Carb Burning vs. Fat Metabolism: Are You Burning Carbs or Fats? Thomas DeLauer

Carb Burning vs. Fat Metabolism: Are You Burning Carbs or Fats? Thomas DeLauer

Carb Burning vs. Fat Metabolism: Are You Burning Carbs or Fats? Thomas DeLauer

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a lot of people have been asking about the difference between carbohydrate metabolism and fat metabolism what’s really happening your body when we’re looking at the aerobic system versus the anaerobic system and in order to understand that we have to understand the biology and the physiology of a dog no we don’t okay anyway what we do have to understand is what is called adenosine triphosphate we have to understand ATP we have to understand how energy is created in the body then I can give you a solid explanation of how you are burning energy whether you’re burning fat or whether you’re burning carbohydrates on a low-carb diet or not okay so first and foremost adenosine triphosphate is essentially a phosphate bond that has been broken up and that releases energy within the body now it’s a very abbreviated version now I’ve done other videos that go into a lot more detail on that but for the sake of this video this is all you really need to know okay so when we look at ATP it is the ultimate energy source within the body everything that we do boils down to using ATP but there are a couple different means to get there you see the first one is going to be called aerobic metabolism and the second one is being called anaerobic metabolism and they have two very unique systems within the body that ultimately boiled down to creating ATP it’s just two different means of getting there the first one is going to be aerobic metabolism and that occurs when the body has enough oxygen available to ultimately create energy so when we look at how glucose is used carbohydrates carbohydrates are consumed and broken down into glucose then that glucose is converted into something called pyruvate you might remember this from sophomore biology class now that pyruvate is created through something known as the Krebs cycle which I’m not going to explain in this video because it’s boring but pyruvate ultimately enters what is called the mitochondria and then combines with oxygen to essentially create energy and the byproducts end up being carbon dioxide and water that’s why when you breathe through aerobic metabolism you end up expelling that carbon dioxide along with moisture okay it’s simply a byproduct of carbohydrate metabolism or fat metabolism going through the simple aerobic system now the cool thing is this is a very efficient system the bad thing is it’s slow so when we need energy fast like when we’re grunting or lifting weights we have to rely on a different energy source see sometimes the amount of oxygen can’t keep up with how fast the body needs to create energy so that’s why we have the other system called the lactic acid system and that’s where glucose is used a little bit differently this is called an aerobic activity and this anaerobic activity takes glucose and it breaks it down again into pyruvate except instead of that pyruvate going into the mitochondria the pyruvate now goes into the cytoplasm which is the fluid area of a cell and then from there it combines and goes through a different chemical reaction and creates lactate this is essentially what is creating energy through the anaerobic system and that by-product is lactic acid that’s why when you’re sprinting or whenever you’re doing any kind of workout you don’t generally fatigue through respiration you fatigue through muscle failure by way of lactic acid burn so that’s the difference there now the interesting thing is is that people would think that the anaerobic activity is more powerful but if you want to get technical it’s not nearly as powerful using carbohydrates in an anaerobic sense is very inefficient we just have processes within the body that allow it to happen a little bit easier but before I go into detail and how that works it’s very very important that you know that aerobic metabolism can use proteins it can use fats and it can use carbohydrates anaerobic activity can only use carbohydrates I’m not saying one is better than the other I lift a lot of weights I clearly like anaerobic activity but aerobic activity is a lot more Universal and a lot more efficient when it comes down to just sustaining life in general so here’s what ends up happening when you’re in an anaerobic state so you consume carbohydrates your body converts them into pyruvate and then that pyruvate goes into the cell and creates instant energy but what you don’t realize is that that process is much less efficient when it comes down to how much ATP is created you see aerobic activity energy is created with oxygen creates ten times more ATP per gram of glucose than the anaerobic system does let me give you a reference here okay one gram of glucose through the anaerobic system creates approximately three ATP one gram of glucose through the aerobic system with oxygen ends up yielding 39 ATP so gram for Ram your glucose goes further with aerobic metabolism so then why is it that people say carbohydrates are good for energy if they’re so inefficient well we have additional enzymes within our body that expedite the process so just because the conversion of glucose into energy is a little bit less when it comes down to using the lactic threshold system it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad we have other enzymes that play that enhanced the effect so basically it’s moving it along a little bit faster the problem with the anaerobic system is that we end up limited by that lactic acid again like I said if you’re ever lifting weights you feel that lactic acid buildup which causes you to quit so we can only go so far now there are some activities that allow you to utilize both a good example would be if you were out going for a bike ride you’re predominantly using the aerobic system you’re just cruising along you’re huffing and puffing a little bit but you’re not super exhausted and then all of a sudden you have to climb up a hill well when you start climbing up the hill your body has no choice but to tap in to the anaerobic system you go into what is called oxygen and debt because your body has been able to sustain energy by utilizing fats proteins and carbs and having the time to combine them with oxygen but then the second that you start climbing up a hill your oxygen demand increases and eventually you go into oxygen debt where you don’t have enough so your body starts to recruit excess carbohydrates to be able to convert them into ATP because the end of all of this we still need the ATP so you may be wondering okay well when is my body using fats well it just comes back down to the aerobic system we cannot use fats when we are doing high-intensity activity you see so when we’re lifting weights or when we’re sprinting no matter how hard you try your body is not going to use fats so you might be wondering well why is this good if I’m on a low-carb diet or in ketosis well here’s where it’s important any excess carbs that you do consume carbohydrates that are coming from just spare amounts of carbs that you get through your diet or maybe you’re just going into a ketogenic diet today and you had carbs yesterday those high-intensity activities are gonna allow you to utilize those carbs and drain those stores so you get into ketosis faster so the general rule of thumb if people ask what kind of workout should you be doing when you’re in ketosis well you’re still going to want to do your way training in your high intensity activity because it’s gonna drain those carbs stores a little bit more but you also want to be doing your aerobic activity because a ketones burn really well when it comes down to energy but B fat is going to be burned when you’re doing aerobic activity so now you have a general understanding of what happens aerobic versus anaerobic I know this was very basic for some and it may be a little entry-level for those that are really interested in the sophisticated science of my channel but I felt like this video needed to be done so that people have a solid understanding of aerobic versus anaerobic and how it relates to carbs fats and proteins if you like this video and you have ideas for future videos on this topic make sure you get them in the comment section below so my team and I can do the research and bring the content to you as always keep it locked in here in my channel and I will see you in the next video

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Carb Burning vs. Fat Metabolism: Are You Burning Carbs or Fats? Thomas DeLauer

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Carb Burning vs. Fat Metabolism: Are You Burning Carbs or Fats? Thomas DeLauer…

Aerobic vs Anaerobic Metabolism: As your body breaks down glucose, a simple sugar molecule, it produces a compound called pyruvate. When this compound enters the mitochondria, aerobic metabolism occurs in which this compound is oxidized and turned into carbon dioxide and water. In the case of anaerobic metabolism, pyruvate enters the fluid, or cytoplasm, of the cell and is turned into lactic acid via a process called glycolysis.

Difference in Efficiency: When one glucose molecule is converted into lactic acid in anaerobic metabolism, three ATP molecules are generated; when a glucose molecule is converted into carbon dioxide and water via aerobic metabolism, it produces 39 molecules of ATP. However, glycolysis requires powerful enzymes that compensate for the lower energy efficiency of anaerobic metabolism – what limits the anaerobic process is the byproduct, or lactic acid.

Aerobic vs Anaerobic Activities:
If you’re performing a low-intensity physical activity over a long period of time, such as running a marathon, you’ll draw the majority of ATP from aerobic metabolism. For these types of activities, fat becomes the chief fuel source. Some activities require the use of both types of metabolism. For example, if you’re cycling in a long distance race, your body will draw on your anaerobic metabolism for a short-term energy boost to climb a hill (1)

When Does Switch Occur:
When your muscles do not have enough oxygen, such as when you’re sprinting or otherwise exerting yourself in an extreme manner, your muscles must rely on anaerobic respiration. Your muscles cannot provide the energy they need to sustain your physical efforts given the amount of oxygen available – so when your body is lacking in oxygen, this is when the switch occurs.

Crossover: The anaerobic threshold, also known as the lactate threshold, is the point where lactate (lactic acid) begins to accumulate in the bloodstream. The AT varies from person to person, and, within a given individual, sport to sport. Untrained individuals have a low AT (approximately 55 % of VO2 max), and elite endurance athletes, a high AT (approx. 80 – 90% of VO2 max) (2)

Aerobic & Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis: Study from researchers at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, published in the Journal of Physiology – Looked at how different types of physical exercise effects adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Found that sustained aerobic exercise had positive effects on brain structure and function, including on a process called adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN), which basically means nerve growth in the hippocampus (3)

Aerobic & BDNF: Study – “Exercise Induces Hippocampal BDNF Through a PGC-1/FNDC5 Pathway,” appeared in the journal Cell Metabolism. Researchers found that a molecule called FNDC5 and its byproduct, irisin, become elevated in the brain through endurance exercise – found that raising levels of irisin in the circulation caused the molecule to cross the blood brain barrier, which then increased the expression of BDNF and activated genes involved in cognition. Mice genetically altered to have low irisin levels in the brain had reduced levels of BDNF. (4)

Additional: Researchers from New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center published a study explaining why sustained aerobic exercise benefits the mammalian brain on a molecular level
Concluded that, “Exercise Promotes the Expression of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) Through the Action of the Ketone Body β-Hydroxybutyrate.” (5)


1) What Is Aerobic & Anaerobic Metabolism? (2017, November 21). Retrieved from
2) Anaerobic Threshold. (n.d.). Retrieved from
3) Physical exercise increases adult hippocampal neurogenesis in male rats provided it is aerobic and sustained. (2016, February 24). Retrieved from
4) Exercise Induces Hippocampal BDNF through a PGC-1α/FNDC5 Pathway – ScienceDirect. (n.d.). Retrieved from
5) Exercise promotes the expression of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) through the action of the ketone body ?-hydroxybutyrate. (2016, June 2). Retrieved from 2

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