What is Metabolic Flexibility??? I want to go Keto. No, I want to go Paleo. No, I want to go carb free!!! If all this diet talk is making your head explode, already, well you are not alone! The road to nutritional success, gaining muscle, burning fat, having freedom of choice and many more positive health effects, all lead through metabolic flexibility… so what does it mean?
Metabolic Flexibility is a cool buzz word that is often misunderstood because of how we look at the crazy term “diet.” People go extreme and dive all in to one form of eating, while claiming it to be a miracle worker! However, the best form of eating, in my opinion, is one that allows you to eat in a variety of different ways while your body efficiently switches between carbs & fat, for energy, while maintaining an optimal body fat percentage.
Metabolic Flexibility… your body’s ability to use food sources as energy when needed. More specifically, when the body is denied glucose, your body’s internal mechanism will begin to use fat as fuel. When you are metabolically inflexible your body cannot use fat as fuel (1). Obese and overweight people are not able to lose weight as easily when compared to leaner people. Lean people can burn fat through food, whereas obese people struggle. But don’t worry, there is hope for everyone because the cellular change that happens through fat adaptation can be improved by diet fluctuation! We can increase metabolic flexibility by varying your diet to improve glucose energy utilization and fat oxidation as well. What you need to do and what you need to know:
1. Don’t just dump a ton of fat in to your diet all at once… Obese people may not be using fat efficiently so you can’t just dump a bunch of extra fat into their diet and expect magic to happen. Excess fat that is not being utilized will be stored in a muscle cell, temporarily, and actually impair glucose metabolism (carbs will not be used)! This means insulin resistance, gaining weight and more!
2. Eliminate carbs entirely, at times… You need to have a carbohydrate fast in order to create metabolic flexibility.
3. Do not eat high carbs with high fat… the Mitochondria functions best when you are eating either carbs or fats during the meal, but not both. You can try this through ways of fasting, removing carbs all together with high-fat and high-protein meals.
4. Keep your Protein consistent… the macro adjustments in your diet need to come with carbs and fats, but not protein. Eating an adequate amount of protein each day is essential in order to build muscle, use fat as fuel (think Carnitine) and more…
So let’s break it down in more simplistic terms for everyone. First, Metabolic Flexibility is your body’s ability to burn fat or carbs as fuel, depending on what you are feeding it. Second, there is not one single “diet” that leads to it. Third, as with all forms of eating, to have metabolic flexibility you MUST eat healthy fats while avoiding vegetable, bean, and industrial oils! If you follow the four steps that I listed, you will be on the right path towards health, wellness and youthfulness!