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Bulletin #75 – Controlling Body Fat Metabolism, Part II

Last month we began our discussion about fat metabolism. We noted that the reason most people fail in their weight loss efforts is that they think dieting is a temporary change and eventually re-sume their old eating habits. They then gain back the lost bodyweight when they resume old diet patterns. In addition, many people will try to lose bodyweight by caloric restriction without exercising.

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This doesn’t work very well for a variety of reasons. In Part I of Control of Fat Metabolism, we discussed some simple concepts related to the construction and design of effective diets that maximize muscle mass while minimizing fat stores. Let’s summarize some of the key fea-tures: The first step in designing an effective diet is to determine your current caloric intake. The easiest and best way to do this is to weigh all the food you consume for a week. Pick a week when your body weight is stable and calculate how many calories you consume in an average day by weighing everything you eat. This dai-ly sum, derived from methodically weigh-ing your food, is called the maintenance energy requirement and is the number of calories required to maintain current body weight and activity level. To gain qual-ity bodyweight, increase this amount by around 250-300 calories per day . To lose weight without losing muscle, decrease your caloric intake by 250 calories (per day) below your maintenance require-ment and then perform 250 calories worth of additional aerobics. Since a pound of fat contains 3500 calories, we generate a net energy (calorie) deficit of 500 calories a day, or 3500 per week. This will result in the loss of one pound of fat per week.

We at Parrillo find this approach works very well. Now that you have determined how many calories to eat, the next question is what is the best way to supply these calories to the body? This issue gets a bit complicated. In general, anyone who is working out and lifting weights (and wants to be lean and muscular) should consume at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight each day. Some people do better with two grams per pound per day, but one gram should be the minimum for a high intensity weight trainer. When you are gaining weight you will have a surplus of calories. These ex-tra calories help “spare” protein, meaning excessive calories prevent protein from being burned as fuel. When you are losing weight you are calorie deficient and don’t have extra nutrients lying around. You are prone to lose muscle and utilize protein as a fuel source when you are losing weight. When this occurs, you lose muscle as well as fat.

Therefore you need more protein when dieting than when gaining weight. It sounds paradoxical at first but there is great logic to it. A good rule of thumb would be to take in one to grams of protein per pound of body weight each day during weight gain or weight main-tenance. For fat loss (not muscle loss) ingest one-and-a-half to two grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. After you have determined the caloric value of your protein requirement, allot another 5-10% of daily calories to fat. After you have determined the number of calories contributed by protein and fat, derive the rest from carbohydrates. We will explain later how to incorporate CapTri® into your diet. The Parrillo Nutrition Manual contains detailed instructions on how to do these calculations and comes with a food scale so you can control everything precisely . Good protein sources include egg whites, fish, chicken breasts and turkey breasts with the skin removed. You will derive tremendous benefit from using our Optimized Whey™ protein powder. It has an ‘optimal’ amino acid profile, one that supports muscular growth and speeds recovery. We divide carbohydrates into two categories: starches and fibrous vegetables.

Good starches include corn, peas, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, oatmeal, and the like. Avoid refined or processed carbohydrates such as bread and pasta. And stay away from simple sugars. Good vegetables include salad greens, green beans, broccoli, spinach, carrots, and so on. Essentially, any veg-etable is OK, except avocados and nuts, which are high in fat. The Parrillo Nutri-tion Manual contains a food composition guide that lists the best foods for our pur-poses: foods optimal for gaining muscle and losing fat. Respective nutrient values are included . Our final issue concerns meal structure and pattern . We recommend each meal contain a balance of nutrients: a portion of protein, some starchy carbohydrates and a fibrous vegetable of some sort. The pro-tein and fiber will slow down the release of glucose into the blood, thereby helping to control insulin levels. We ask that you divide your daily allotment of calories as evenly as possible into six (or more) meals, spaced evenly throughout the day. Try to eat a small, balanced meal every two to three hours. We find that six small meals will result in a leaner physique then the traditional three square meals.

Three meals present twice as large a digestive task as six smaller meals despite equal nutritional makeup and caloric intake. Be sure and divide your protein requirements into near equal portions at each meal. You are free to choose different food items for each meal, but meals need to have ap-proximately the same number of calories and protein. One exception to this rule of caloric balance is during pre-contest dieting when you may find it helpful to eliminate starch from your last meal of the day . CapTri® is a very interesting compound. CapTri®, a special fat, has a different chemical structure than conventional fat. This unique structure causes CapTri® to follow a different metabolic pathway than fat and as a result, CapTri® is digested differently by the body. CapTri® is a con-centrated source of calories: 8.3 calories per gram. But in contrast to regular fat, CapTri® has virtually no tendency to be stored as body fat. Instead, it is rapidly converted to ketones in the liver. These ketones are used immediately as fuel.

This source of immediate energy thereby spares protein and carbohydrate and helps improve protein and glycogen retention. CapTri® can be used in two ways: to gain weight, simply add a tablespoon or two to your regular food. This will increase the caloric content of your diet, promoting weight gain. Since CapTri® has less of a tendency to be stored as body fat, these extra calories will not show up as fat. To promote fat loss we advise that you remove some starch from your diet and replace it with calorically equal amounts of CapTri®. CapTri® generates a higher thermogenic effect than carbohydrates. This means that some of the calories from CapTri® get converted to body heat, the more heat your body produces the higher the metabolic rate and energy expendi-ture. If more of the calories you eat are expended as energy, fewer are available to be retained as body fat, so you’ll lose more fat. By decreasing the carbohydrate content of a diet we reduce insulin levels, further promoting fat loss. The 40-30-30 diet (protein/carb/fat) is very popular right now. This approach reduces insulin levels and promotes fat loss and is actually not a bad idea although deriving 30% of your calories from conventional fat is in itself problematic. We at Parrillo Performance find that much better results are achieved if CapTri® is used as a fat source.

This allows us to reduce carbohydrates (and therefore insulin levels) without restrict-ing calories too severely. The Parrillo Nutrition Manual contains detailed in-structions on this issue and is the single most useful muscle building and weight loss tool available. You will get far better results from your supplements if they are used in conjunction with a proper diet. Diet is the foundation to proper nutrition. Last month I promised some discussion on the biochemistry of fat metabolism. Rather than making this a purely techni-cal exercise, I decided to emphasize the practical aspects and how we can use this information to attain our physique goals. Let’s start with a discussion of how dietary fat is metabolized then some ex-planation on how body fat is metabolized and finally some discussion on how fatty acids are used by muscle for fuel. Oil and water don’t mix. Your blood, and indeed your whole body, is mostly water. Fats and oils cannot simply float through your blood stream because they don’t dis-solve in water. Fats are carried by special protein particles made in the intestines and the liver.

Most of the fat we eat is in the form of triglycerides. A triglycer-ide is a glycerol molecule (three-carbon alcohol) with three fatty acid molecules attached: one to each carbon atom of the glycerol backbone. In the small intestine the fatty acids are cleaved from the glyc-erol by an enzyme called lipase which is made in the pancreas. The fatty acids are then absorbed by the intestinal cells and re-combined with glycerol to re-form triglycerides . It sounds crazy, but I think the problem is that native triglycerides are too big to make their way inside the cell. Next, triglycerides are combined with carrier proteins, which act like a detergent and help the fat become soluble dissolve in the blood. These particles of triglyc-eride and protein are called chylomicrons and are then released into the lymphatic system . The lymphatic system is a net-work of vessels much like the blood ves-sels except instead of carrying blood it transports fluids between tissues and ulti-mately dumps it into the blood stream via the thoracic duct .

The thoracic duct is the body’s largest lymph channel and empties into the subclavian vein on the right side of the neck. Once chylomicrons enter the blood stream they are transported to adi-pose tissue and stored as body fat. After a meal, carbohydrates are the preferred en-ergy source and fat is stored as body fat. When carbohydrate stores are depleted, the body will burn bodyfat. This is a ma-jor reason why we encourage a low fat diet. Once fat arrives at an adipose (fat) cell, an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL) cleaves off the fatty acids, which is then absorbed by the fat cell. Once inside, they are re-combined with glycerol and the triglyceride is stored for later use. It is interesting to note that while fats are transported by the lymphatic system to the bloodstream and then to fat cells, protein and carbohydrate follow a differ-ent route . They are transported directly to the liver by a special vein that runs from the small intestine to the liver called the portal vein.

The liver gets “first dibs” on protein and carbohydrate. Why? Because it has an important job to do: make pro-teins needed for the blood. The liver wants these amino acids first, to make sure it can do its work. The proteins that the liver makes have priorities: they are required for life and are more important (to survival) than muscle. This is why amino acids go straight to the liver in-stead of to muscle cells. Also, the liver wants the carbohydrate because it needs to store glycogen, which helps maintain blood glucose levels for the operation of the brain. Between meals, after blood sugar levels start to drop, the liver slowly releases glucose to keep the level rela-tively constant. Without this procedure, you would pass out, go into a coma and eventually die if you went for more than a few hours without a meal. Not good. The fats bypass the liver and end up getting delivered to the fat cells for storage. It is as if the liver is saying: “I don’t need that fat, it’s just for storage.” So you can un-derstand why we at Parrillo Performance are not fond of dietary fat. Less is better. Another interesting thing about Cap-Tri® is that is it transported to the liver just like carbohydrate. Because of its unique molecular structure it does not require incorporation into chylomicrons for transport.

Instead it is taken directly to the liver where it is broken down into small fragments called ketones which are then released into the bloodstream. These ketones are then used as fuel by muscle, helping to spare carbohydrates and amino acids. Once a fatty acid is stored by a fat cell, it just sits there. It doesn’t do any-thing. It waits until your carbs run low and you need some energy. Insulin blocks the release of fatty acids from fat cells. Once blood sugar levels fall and insulin declines, this inhibition is removed. You begin to use fat as energy to a significant degree. The most potent stimulus for release of fatty acids is norepinephrine (NE). This is a neurotransmitter released from the sympathetic nervous system that stimulates fat cells to release fatty acids. NE activates an enzyme called hormone sensitive lipase, which then breaks down the triglyceride and releases the fatty acids. The fatty acids are delivered by the blood to the muscles and then burned for fuel. When a fatty acid arrives at a muscle cell, it is absorbed and has to wait inside the belly of the cell. Fatty acids are con-verted to energy in a sub-cellular organ-elle called the mitochondria .

These mi-tochondria are like little furnaces inside the cells. In the mitochondria is where food molecules are burned to release energy . They contain enzymes that break down food molecules and combine them with oxygen to produce energy, which is then used to make ATP. (We have discussed ATP in detail before. Refer to your old issues of the press). Fatty acids are unable to enter the mitochondria by themselves. They have to be transported across the mem-brane by a special carrier system called the carnitine shuttle. The problem with the carnitine shuttle is it is inhibited by one of the by-products of carbohydrate metabolism. The shuttle is not very ac-tive if carbohydrates are available. This is another reason why fat metabolism pro-ceeds at a low level until carbohydrates are extensively depleted. You should think of body fat as en-ergy insurance. Your body prefers to use carbohydrate as energy (Hey! so why not feed it carbohydrates!) and will do so as long as carbs are available. Once the available carbohydrates are depleted, energy substrate utilization switches over to fat. Your stored body fat keeps things going when you run out of carbs. Lesson two: dietary fat is automatically stored as body fat by and large. So feed your body small frequent meals, give it quality carbs and protein and limit dietary fat. It makes sense and it works. CapTri® is a differ-ent animal from regular fat and behaves completely differently. CapTri® acts like a carbohydrate and does not induce much insulin release . These properties, plus the thermogenic considerations, make CapTri® a very useful tool for anyone wanting to maximize muscle or minimize bodyfat


1. For more information about the physi-ology of fat metabolism, refer to Guyton AC and Hall JE. Textbook of Medical Physiology. W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, 1996.

2. For details about the biochemistry of fat metabolism, consult Devlin TM. Textbook of Biochemistry with Clini-cal Correlations. Wiley-Liss, New York, 1992 .

3. For detailed information about how to construct your diet for optimal body composition, refer to the Parrillo Perfor-mance Nutrition Manual.

2018-03-13T11:10:31-04:00 June 17th, 2009|Technical Supplement Bulletins|

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