In today’s fast-paced and sedentary lifestyle, maintaining a healthy metabolism is crucial for overall well-being. Metabolic flexibility is the ability of the body to efficiently switch between different fuel sources for energy production…It really is the key to boosting immune function, weight loss, and overall energy. It may be a new term to you, or you may have heard it before. Either way, let’s cover exactly what it means to be metabolically flexible and how you can achieve it.
Understanding Metabolic Flexibility
Metabolic flexibility refers to the ability of the body to adapt and utilize various fuel sources, such as glucose, fatty acids, and ketones, based on the availability and demands of the body. The human body has evolved to efficiently switch between these fuel sources to ensure energy production and maintain metabolic balance. However, modern lifestyle factors like poor diet, chronic stress, lack of physical activity, and inadequate sleep can disrupt this metabolic flexibility, leading to various health issues.
How to know if you are metabolically in-flexible:
One of the top ways to gauge how well your body is handling blood sugar changes is how you feel after eating carbohydrates. If you are sleepy after a meal high in carbohydrates, you are metabolically inflexible. Another sign? The inability to go more than 5 hours without crashing. If you feel like you have to eat every few hours, you are also metabolically in-flexible. Some can also experience mid-day crashes and low energy, which also points to the same issue.
Dependence On Stimulants, Another Sign:
Do you also feel like you are dependent on coffee and maybe even an afternoon pick-me-up energy drink? You guessed it, metabolic in-flexibility is also to blame. Your body is not supplying the energy you need to get you through the day, leaving you feeling sluggish, tired, and even a bit foggy.
The bottom line is this: If you are not able to fast without a significant hit to your energy levels, or dependent on snacks and stimulants to get you through your day, you are definitely not as metabolically flexible as you need to be.
5 Things To Start Today:
- Balance Blood Sugar: I know you hear this all the time from me, but it is seriously the number one way to become more flexible. 85-110 all day is the target. By monitoring what you are eating, you can achieve stability, a reduction in overall inflammation, and even weight loss.
And, when it comes to overall energy, vitality, and brain function, balancing blood sugar is key. A diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods supports metabolic flexibility and balanced blood sugar by providing a variety of essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is important to emphasize the consumption of unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. These foods provide the body with a diverse array of nutrients, promoting optimal metabolic function. More on that later.
- Decrease Carbohydrates
– Intake Goal: 60-80 Grams Per Day
If you are not currently under our care and working one-on-one with a dietitian or nutritionist, this is a good general place to start. There are some great apps that will help you track your carb intake on a daily basis. Or, you can also keep a food journal to help you track. Most of our patients are surprised to find out that one large apple can contain almost 40 grams of carbs! When you know the contents of the foods you are eating, you can make better choices.
Increase Healthy Fat Intake
The type of fat you are eating matters. In fact, there are some fats that are very inflammatory and should be avoided. Contrary to popular belief, unsaturated fats are actually not what we are looking for. Some examples of unsaturated fats: corn oil, soy oil, vegetable oils, canola, sunflower, and soy or soybean oils.
Healthy fat options: Avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, eggs, grass-fed butter, beef, and even ghee.
Increase your intake of non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower.
- Work To Extend Time Between Meals
If you are only going an hour between meals, or feel the need to snack continuously (also called grazing), try to increase that span a little at a time. You should be able to go 4-5 hours without eating, without energy crashes, grogginess, or other symptoms.
- Increase The Intensity Of Exercise
Regular physical activity and exercise play a vital role in improving metabolic flexibility. Engaging in both cardiovascular exercises and resistance training promotes insulin sensitivity, enhances mitochondrial function, and increases the capacity to burn fat as fuel. HIIT is actually an excellent way to achieve this. These adaptations enhance the body’s ability to switch between fuel sources, improving metabolic flexibility.
- Time Restricted Eating:
Intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating can also enhance metabolic flexibility. These approaches involve periods of fasting which allow the body to deplete glycogen stores and utilize stored fats for energy. This practice helps the body adapt to using different fuel sources efficiently, promoting metabolic flexibility. The most effective way to achieve intermittent fasting is to stop eating around 5-6 pm nightly and not eat breakfast until at least 7-8 am the next morning. As time progresses, you can continue to spread that time out more, working up from 12 to 14 hours. This span of time helps the receptors recharge too, increasing insulin sensitivity
If you start these five things today, I guarantee in 30 days you will start to notice more energy, less brain fog, and maybe even shed a few extra pounds. As an added bonus, your immune system will start to function more optimally as metabolic flexibility plays a crucial role in longevity and disease prevention.