You Don’t Lose Fat at the Gym!

Man lifting weightsMany of us go to the gym and assume our bellies and the back of our legs will be smoother due to the hours we put in on those elliptical machines or stair climbers.  But, while we may be burning calories, those exercises are not burning away those stubborn fat cells.

According to Wikipedia, the definition of Bodyfat is:    Body fat, or adipose tissue’s main role is to store energy in the form of lipids, although it also cushions and insulates the body. Far from being hormonally inert, adipose tissue has, in recent years, been recognized as a major endocrine organ, as it produces hormones such as leptin, estrogen, resistin, and the cytokine TNFα. 

So, to explain in layman’s terms what that means, we asked Registered Dietician Mike Gorski, RD, CD, ACE and owner of MGfitlife ( and here’s how he breaks it down;

Our fat cells produce hormones, so let’s start by breaking that down;

Leptin – Tells our brain when we are full.  This is good.

Estrogen – The female sex hormone is found in higher levels in more obese people – men and women alike.  Not good for men.

Resistin – Increases the amount of LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol).  This is bad.

Cytokine TNFa (tumor necrosis factor) – A pro-inflammatory that helps prevent tumor growth (good) but does it by increasing fever, inflammation and overall body stress (bad).

The consensus is that the more of these hormones we have in our body, the worse off we are.

In addition to producing hormones, our body fat stores energy in the form of lipids.  Lipids are made up of Carbon, Oxygen and Hydrogen.  So how do they get burned (or oxidized), and how does that occur?

When we draw on that energy, the CO2 and H20 compounds are broken down thus leaving our bodies when we breathe out (C02) and go to the bathroom (H20).  But what causes this to happen?

Weight training and certain workouts when done right, stimulates muscle damage and uses up glycogen (glycogen is a source of energy).  When we finish training, our muscles are damaged and our body begins the repair process.  Cell signaling happens and our body increases responses to repair the muscles, thus increasing metabolism.   The oxidation (of lipids) is an important process of our metabolism and while it is slightly increased after training, it is an especially important process that occurs when we sleep, as this is when our body’s are trying to repair and rebuild the muscles broken down at the gym.  And by increasing your BMR (Basic Metabolic Rate or metabolism) you’ll achieve that fat loss.

So if your goal is to lose weight, make sure to put in less calories than you burn.  Simple.  However, if your goal is to lose fat, stop focusing on the calorie burn and start focusing on the quality of your workouts.  Did they improve?  Did you get faster?  Did you get stronger?  This is what is going to start the process of losing those fat cells.  By breaking down those muscles, so your body can rebuild and recover, there-by increasing your metabolism.