Categories: Article

Fat Loss Workouts #1 – Glycogen Depletion – Men vs Women



One of the keys to a fast, efficient and what’s the most important – healthy fat loss is taking a glycogen depletion into consideration (both diet and workout wise). This article describes the training side of managing glycogen level in men’s and women’s body.

This Article is a part of The Universal Diet eBook – if you want to know more about nutrition – check out an offer page.


  • Depleting liver glycogen stores depends heavily on a diet, while muscle stores – on an exercise routine. To be sure that you do everything in the most optimal way, check out a Nutrition Consultation service I provide.
  • Ingested carbohydrates will fill liver glycogen stores and if muscle glycogen stores are full – fat cells – which is a beginning of a mechanism of gaining fat. The glycogen stored in fat cells converts to fatty acids. This process also increases the efficiency of fat cells to store even more glycogen.
  • Men’s and Women’s bodies manage glycogen stores differently.
  • Power output is an important thing to describe considering accessing glycogen stores in muscles.
  • Women have to put more work to deplete their muscle glycogen stores.
  • Running is NOT the optimal way (to say the least) of exercising to lose body fat. Especially for women. In general, unless your goal is to improve performance in a long-distance running contest (i.e. marathon) – you generally shouldn’t be doing it frequently. It also “compacts” muscles which decrease their capacity regarding glycogen. You shouldn’t base your workout program upon this activity for fat loss, muscle building and changing your body composition. Sprints and walking though, are an entirely different matter.
  • Women will almost certainly break their metabolism (gain body fat, possibly even get a thyroid disease and hormonal imbalances) while regularly doing steady state activities (cardio) such as running.


Glycogen is stored in a body as a form of energy supply (in a muscle tissue (the biggest amount), liver, brain and also fat cells). There is a certain limit of it that can be retained in the first three organs mentioned above. It is highly dependent on liver size and skeletal muscle tissue mass.

Ingested carbohydrates (or protein under certain circumstances) are first oxidized (used right away) and then processed for the body to store. If the organs that can retain them are already full (which they almost surely are considering most diets recommendations, even those considered as the most healthy or optimal for body composition), the excess of it is sent to fat cells. In those cells, glycogen is converted to fatty acids. The noteworthy fact is that it is an energy producing process and it makes those fatty acids more efficient for the body to store in the form of body fat.

When there is a place for a glycogen in your muscles – it will go there. This will prevent fat cells expansion and improve the ability for your body to an efficient fat loss.


The amount of glycogen in the liver and a brain rely heavily on a diet (the absence of carbohydrates). The thing worthwhile mentioning is that only a liver can supply it for the rest of a body to use.

Glycogen content in muscles though relies on activity level and while it is in the muscle tissue – it can’t move anywhere else.


Males and females access muscle glycogen stores differently. Women generally have to work harder in order to deplete it. The determinant of efficiency in “burning” glycogen from a skeletal muscle tissue can be described as an intensity or a power output (amount of work in a period of time, let’s use a VO2max as a unit of measuring it). The graphs below can help understand it easily.

In males, the amount of glycogen burned with any activity is linear – the higher the intensity (power output), the more glycogen is used. That’s why men can use running as a form of fat burning workout (but still it’s not as efficient, fast and healthy as it could be).

The situation with females is much different. For them, the intensity needs to be much higher even to start accessing considerable amounts of glycogen stores.

That’s one of the reasons why women (also some men) usually don’t succeed doing steady state cardio (i.e., running or indoor cycling). At least concerning losing body fat (NOT weight) and changing their body composition for the better (the real goal). It also can ruin their health. You can read more regarding this topic here – WOMEN SHOULDN’T RUN TO IMPROVE THEIR BODIES AND HEALTH.

In general, if you don’t have plans to perform in a sport of long distance running – you shouldn’t be doing it frequently. It is OK to do it recreationally if you like it. What’s certain is that you shouldn’t base your workout program upon this activity for fat loss, muscle building and changing your body composition. Sprints, fast cycling outdoor and walking are an entirely different matter.


You usually get the highest power output while performing resistance training.


Sprinting is a very high power output exercise and is great for fat loss both for men and women.


Walking is not a high power output exercise but works relatively good for accessing glycogen levels. It even has an influence on a hypertrophic (muscle building) processes.

Increasing or at least preserving muscle mass is important for both men and women. You can read about it in the Universal Diet documentation.


While cycling outdoor, you have much more power output than doing it indoors. The reason for this is a wind resistance. The faster you ride, the more wind resistance you get and higher your power output is.


Training with the need for muscles to overcome some resistance (weights, resistance bands, bodyweight).


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