Why should your diet be like a Christmas candle?

It seems an odd combination doesn’t it; what could a candle and eating to lose weight possibly have in common. Well the answer is that to work effectively they both need the same three things.

For a candle to burn it needs:

1) Wax

2) A wick

3) A flame

The wax is the source of energy for the candle. It is the wax that when heated up begins to melt, but it can’t work on its own. The wick is essential too; as the wax of the candle melts, the liquid wax is drawn up the wick. As it does so it becomes increasingly hotter until it turns into a gas. It is this gas that is ignited by the flame and keeps it burning brightly, in turn generating more heat and melting more wax from the candle beneath.

The wick plays a vital role in keeping the melted wax in the flame long enough to turn into a gas and allow it to burn. Without the wick, heated wax would simply melt but no flame would be created and as such the wax would not vaporise (become gas). As such at the end you’d juts be left with the same amount of wax but it wouldn’t look as pretty any more.

The final piece of the jigsaw of course was the initial spark, the flame that set the wick alight and began the process. Without this the candle obviously can’t burn.

All well and good you say, but what’s this got to do with my diet? Well, in recent years there’s been a trend towards low carbohydrate diets. Why is this? Well, according to some, carbs cause diabetes, they make you fat and you don’t need them to burn fat.

However, if you take the analogy of our little Christmas Candle, you’ll see that this isn’t right at all. To burn body fat you need three things:

1) Some body fat to burn (the wax)

2) Some carbohydrates (the wick)

3) Movement (the flame)

Much like the candle, your body’s biggest energy source is its fat. In fact, even the leanest individuals store plenty of energy as fat. If we take an average, fairly ‘elfy’ individual as an example:

Buddy weighs 80 kilo’s and his body fat percentage is 20 per cent. This means that 16 kilo’s of buddy are fat, or 35 pounds. 

Knowing that a pound of fat is equivalent to around 3,500 calories, that means Buddy has around 123,200 calories of energy to draw on when needed from fat. That’s enough in theory to run around 50 marathons!

So we’ve established that we’ve got energy to burn. Now let’s see how carbohydrate is involved, time for a little trip to the chemistry lab.

When glucose is broken down, a substance known as pyruvate is produced. This in turn creates  oxaloacetate, which is a vital substance in the process of fat breakdown. If carbohydrate levels are low, less pyruvate is produced, so less oxaloacetate is produced, and therefore less fat is broken down, or rather fat is broken down inefficiently. In simple terms, remove the carbohydrates and you remove the wick that allows the fat to burn.

Finally of course, you need a spark to create the flame, ignite the wick and begin the process. This is exercise or movement. The more you move the higher your metabolism, meaning your flame burns brighter. 

So if you want to burn your wax, sorry body fat, effectively, be sure to keep some healthy carbohydrates in your diet. Examples might be whole grain rice, pasta or bread, quinoa, couscous, bulgar wheat and fruit and vegetables. And of course remember to move, aim for 30 minutes exercise every day and your flame will burn brightly.

Merry Christmas everyone,