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Can Your Body Really Learn to Burn Fat Instead of Carbs?

by Aglaee Jacob

About Aglaee Jacob

Aglaee Jacob is a registered dietitian. She has experience working with people who have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and obesity issues. Jacob obtained a bachelor of science and a master of science, both in nutrition, from Laval University in Quebec City, Canada.

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The type of fuel your body burns largely depends on the type of fuel you give to your body. If your body is currently burning carbs, you can help your body learn to burn fat instead by modifying your diet. Switching from burning carbs to burning fats can help you lose weight, have more stable energy levels and decrease your hunger.

Burning Carbs

If you eat bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, breakfast cereals, muffins, desserts and drink sugary beverages every day, your body will burn the carbs found in these foods first. Carbs found in sugary and starchy foods are broken down into glucose, a single molecule of sugar, that all of your body cells can use for energy. When your body receives new glucose from the carbs you eat, your pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that tells your body to burn the sugar first and to stop burning fat. The carbohydrates found in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains are not broken down into glucose as quickly as those in refined starches, so you don't have to remove them from your diet in order to burn fat.

Burning Fats

The only way to make your body learn to burn fat instead of carbs is to control and reduce your insulin levels. As long as your insulin levels are high, your body will prioritize burning sugar and will not burn fat. You can lower your insulin levels by decreasing your carb intake. Cut down on the amount of starchy and sugary foods you eat. To prevent being hungry, replace the refined carbs you eliminate from your diet with healthy fats and the kinds of carbs that are processed more slowly, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Adapt Your Meals

To decrease your carbs and increase your intake of healthy fats and fiber, replace your low-fat chicken sandwich with a big chicken salad with plenty of almonds, olive oil and avocado. Even though both meals contain the same amount of calories, the proportion of carbs and fat is very different and will help your body switch from burning carbs to burning fat. Instead of breakfast cereals, orange juice, toasts, jams and sugary coffee for breakfast, have a spinach and mushroom omelet with goat cheese and a couple of sausages. Snack on nuts, hard-boiled eggs, smoked salmon, canned tuna, low-fat cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables instead of granola bars, rice cakes, pretzels, candies and potato chips.

The Transition

Consult your doctor before switching to a lower carb and higher fat diet. The transition between burning carbs and burning fat can take a few days to a few weeks. If you always consumed a high-carb diet, your body may not be used to burning fat. Be patient during the transition period to allow your body to learn about the new metabolic pathway to produce energy from burning fat. Some people can feel tired, sluggish, irritable or have headaches during this period. Persevere until your body learns to burn fat. Alleviate your symptoms by drinking plenty of water and low-carb fluids and eating plenty of healthy fats and low-glycemic vegetables and whole grains at each of your meals.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.