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  • Writer's pictureFunctional Lifestyles

How Metabolic Flexibility is Your Key to Fat Loss

In, the U.S…

  • Over 70% of adults aged 20 and over are overweight.

  • Obesity rates have increased from 30.5% to 42.4% from 1999 to 2018.

  • 16 states had adult obesity rates at or above 35% in 2020 (up from 12 states in 2019)

  • U.S. adults reported gaining an average of 29 pounds in a poll in February 2021.

So, what are we doing wrong people? I mean, we all know there are no shortage of diets out there. There’s paleo, keto, vegan, vegetarian, carnivore, south beach, raw food, blood type, low carb and the list goes on and on and on…. I’m not going to say that any diet is inherently bad or good. But what I am going to say is that how we approach our nutrition could use some deep analysis. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon of some weight loss diet fad you heard worked for your neighbor’s best friend’s kid’s school teacher, here are a few questions to ask yourself… How do I find a diet that works for my lifestyle and is sustainable? How do I find a diet that not only provides fat loss but also sustains fat loss? How do I find a diet that contributes to the longevity of my family and myself and improves my recovery, mood, sleep and overall energy and sense of self? Today in our Pursuit of Balance podcast/email, I want to cover:

  • The idea of metabolic flexibility

  • The process of fat loss from a hormonal standpoint

  • How snacks may be the thing killing your progress

Metabolic flexibility is the ability to respond or adapt to conditional changes in metabolic demand. To simplify, it is the concept that the human body can switch from burning glucose to fatty acids. When trying to find ways to burn fat and lose weight, we all know we’re supposed to be in a caloric deficit - but fat loss involves much more than a caloric deficit. Most of us have heard that we need to eat small meals frequently for fat loss. I personally grew up thinking that our metabolism is like a furnace, “I gotta feed it more and all the time to keep the fire goin”. The issue with this approach is that we’re not giving our body time to become “fat-adapted”. In other words, our body can’t switch to burning stored fat for fuel. In order to burn stored fat for fuel we have to give our bodies a break from eating. Periods of fasting between meals (taking out the snacks) enables the body to take a break from digesting and work on turning fat reserves into fuel. Constantly, grazing throughout the day causes your blood sugar levels to spike which keeps your insulin levels high. And insulin is a storage hormone that is very anabolic (Growth). So, if your goal is fat loss you need to keep that blood sugar and insulin regulated. Some foods spike our blood sugar levels more than others. When we eat foods that spike our blood sugar, body releases insulin to take sugar out of the blood and shoves it back into the muscles, liver and or storage if you are not burning enough energy. Out of the macronutrients, carbohydrates (the dreaded “c” word to many weight loss activists) affect blood sugar the most significantly! But remember, not all carbs are created equal. Complex, refined/processed carbs have the most dramatic effect while fibrous carbs have a minimal effect. When we eat foods that are rich in carbs, sugar, refined/processed our blood sugar spikes dramatically. Remember, all foods have different effects on blood sugar. After carbs, protein affects blood sugar the most and then comes fats with the most minimal effect. SO, the big question is… “How do I keep blood sugar and insulin regulated?” The answer: Periods of no eating AKA FASTING! So many people have built fear around fasting. We get so stuck on the word and the idea of “restriction” that we don’t take time to truly understand the concept. Yes, you are technicaly restricting the times in which you eat but you are providing your body with limitless potential to function properly and effectively for your goals. And don't forget - most all of us fast to a certain extent. If you eat dinner at 8pm and then have your next meal/food at 8am – guess what?! You've just fasted. It’s called “break-fast” for a reason. But without diving further into intermittent fasting, let’s just look at snacking. When you snack, you don't allow your body the breaks between meals to come back down. What ends up happening is that you keep stacking on the blood sugar and insulin throughout the day. So, here are a few tips to get you to metabolic flexibility:

  • Focus on 2 to 3 “quality” meals a day emphasizing whole foods and minimizing sugar and refined carbs.

  • Avoid grazing throughout the day.

  • Don't be afraid to wait a little longer in the morning to have your breakfast

  • Aim for an early dinner.

I'm not asking you to change your intake. I’m just asking you to focus on the timing and how you spread out your food throughout the day. In doing so, you give your body time to regulate blood sugar, which keeps insulin down throughout the periods of fasting and will over time help your body become metabolically flexible and become a fat-burning machine. We're dedicating this whole month to nutrition optimization so keep reading our emails and follow us on IG and FB (social media handles are below) to stay on track during the hardest time of the year - the HOLIDAYS!!! - Functional Lifestyles

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