Could metabolic flexibility be the key to weight loss, optimal health, and longevity?
There’s always gonna be a never ending debate on which diet is the best. It’s almost become a religion. But I want you to forget about labels today.
Because all foods, just like a lot of things, exist in a spectrum. Some are really good for you, some are not so good for you. Others are in between. The poison is in the dose.
For example, some people with certain sensitivities from the anti-nutrients in plants. And they might not even know about it. Whether it’s nightshades, legumes, or a gluten sensitivity. Some foods can be downright damaging to their health.
That’s why an elimination diet, like the Carnivore diet, has gained a lot of popularity.
You’re basically eliminating all the foods that triggers inflammation.
What are anti-nutrients?
Anti-nutrients are chemicals found in plants that keep your body from absorbing essential nutrients from food.
It’s a protective mechanism they’ve developed to defend themselves from predators. They’re not just sitting on the ground waiting to be eaten.
That’s why people with skin problems, autoimmune disorders, and gut issues have had amazing results with it. Those are all triggered by inflammation.
I’m not saying all plants are bad for you. You can consume them based on their level of toxicity and how you personally respond to it.
I have a separate video about the Carnivore Diet if you wanna know more about it.
But in between, is where a lot of people exist. At the end of the day, it’s about eating a variety of foods that make you feel good and solving for your highest quality of life.
Again, that’s the problem with the current state of nutrition. People become so dogmatic about it. It’s very emotional for some people. Especially when it comes to eating animals.
People have the mentality that if you’re not with us, you’re against us. But the more exposure I have learning about human physiology, the more I believe that achieving what’s called metabolic flexibility is the key to everything.
What is metabolic flexibility?
Metabolic flexibility, which by the way is our natural factory setting, is the ability that the human body has to extract energy from the foods that we eat OR stored energy.
The best analogy for this is think of a hybrid car. We can either run on gas or electric.
If you’re metabolically flexible, you can get your energy from your butt, thighs, and belly. Or, from what you just had from your last meal.
You can easily convert carbs into glucose that your body can use for immediate energy.
That’s why one of the best hacks is to go for a 15 minute walk after every major meal. Because it’s been shown to decrease the blood sugar response by up to 40% and decrease the insulin response by half.
Being metabolically flexible also means you can burn glycogen, that the glucose becomes, in your muscles and liver for fuel. That’s the stored energy that we tap into when we sleep so we don’t die.
When that runs out, and you can only carry around 2000 calories of stored glycogen. You have the ability to switch fuel sources, and make ketones in your liver by breaking down body fat and use that for fuel.
If you’re metabolically flexible, you can get energy from those different sources, and it’s a seamless transition.* You’re an efficient hybrid car.
For example, there’s no difference whether you get the fat from an avocado or your stored body fat.
There’s no discernible difference whether the glucose came from sushi rice or the stored glycogen in your muscles.
THIS is how we were designed as human beings. Again, it’s our original factory setting.
The problem is, we’ve kind of forgotten about it. And it all kinda started back in the 80’s when the USDA released the first dietary guidelines for Americans.
You know, that classic food pyramid, telling everyone to eat 6-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta.
Which roughly translates to a mind bending 300-500 grams of highly processed, insulinogenic, fat promoting carbs daily.
The rest of the western hemisphere followed suit and now we have an obesity epidemic.
So our food choices, and this starts very early. Typically dictated by our parents because they just didn’t know any better. Have led us down the path of carb dependency. Which is the literal definition of metabolic inflexibility.
Human Physiology 101
For this to really make sense, you need to know a little bit about basic human physiology. Don’t worry, we’re just gonna focus on the essentials.
When we eat a lot of carbs, again the standard American diet (SAD) promotes eating 300-500 grams of carbs daily.
Carbs gets turned into glucose once it enters our body. Too much glucose in the bloodstream is toxic.
For context, the human body contains around 5 litres of blood. But it only has 4 grams of sugar, which is less than a teaspoon.
How does the body deal with all that extra glucose? It’s a two-step process.
First, it gets converted into glycogen that gets stored in the muscles and liver. But again, you can only store around 2000 calories. Think of it like a suitcase.
If you overpack it, if the muscles are full of glycogen and this is the second step, all that extra glucose gets turned into fat.
And, we’re very efficient at burning glucose. Especially if you have a lot of lean muscle tissue. Because it’s the largest site for glucose disposal.
That’s why muscle is our metabolic currency. It’s the key driver of our metabolism. I have a separate video where I dive into that topic in further detail so make sure to check it out.
The problem of metabolic inflexibility starts with the types of food we eat and meal frequency.
When you have 3 meals a day and you eat a lot of carbs with every meal. Especially if it’s made up of refined carbs and sugar.
And then you follow that up with a snack in between those meals. Again, more refined carbs and sugar.
And that’s typically because you’re hungry, you didn’t eat enough protein to trigger satiety, or you’re going through a blood sugar crash. And that’s the norm for a lot of people.
I read a very alarming stat recently that nearly 3/4 of American male adults and 60% of women are overweight. While the obesity rate is 40%.
A mind bending 88% of American adults have some form of metabolic dysfunction. Meaning only 12% are metabolically healthy.
And again, this goes back to us being a carb dependent society. When you do that, you never get a chance to burn fat.
When you don’t tap into your fat stores, it kinda becomes this ‘use it or lose it’ feature. For lack of a better term, we kinda forget about our natural factory setting of being metabolically flexible.
It kinda gets shoved in the back burner because we never get a chance to burn fat. There’s always carbs coming in every 2-3 hours. That 2000 calorie glycogen tank always stays full.
Here’s a very important concept you need to understand.
You have to use up most of your glycogen stores before your body taps into your fat stores for energy.
Think about it. This vicious carb cycle starts from the moment we wake up and eat breakfast. “The most important” meal of the day.
Followed by a coffee break mid morning where you’re usually eating a snack. Then comes lunch time. Followed by a mid afternoon pick me up.
Maybe you’re sipping on a pre-workout drink, BCAA, or gatorade during your workout. Then comes dinner. And then maybe you snack on something while watching Netflix.
The only break from eating that a lot of people get is when they sleep. And that is the problem.
Food has become so accessible to us and we use it as a form of entertainment.
There’s food delivery apps. You don’t even have to leave the house anymore to get restaurant food. And they’re all designed to be highly palatable.
Your brain lights up like a Christmas when you eat them. Which kinda ruins your palette. All of a sudden, normal food doesn’t taste as good.
And we’re just stuck in that daily loop of having a 16 to 17 hour eating window. In doing so, we kinda lose our metabolic flexibility and we become metabolically inflexible.
We’re just sugar burners. We’ve become carb dependent. We’re “carbivores.”
How do you become metabolically flexible?
Do the opposite of this conventional stupidity that everyone follows.
Limit your carb intake and eat less frequently.
Not all calories are created equal. Some are more fattening than others. Out of all three macronutrients, carbs, especially refined carbs and sugar are the most insulinogenic. Insulinogenic means it’s fattening.
Insulin is the switch. It’s the hormone that controls your bodyweight.
You have to limit the amount of glucose your body has access to. When you do that, you’re slowly teaching your body to become metabolically flexible again.
How? Well, when insulin stays low, a counter regulatory hormone called glucagon goes up. And more enzymes gets produced to take fat out of storage.
You also trigger the all important mitochondrial biogenesis which is the making of new energy producing mitochondria in your cells, which slows down the aging process.
When you’re metabolically flexible, you have the innate ability to generate energy all day long whether you eat or not.
Because the body can easily access our stored energy that we carry around with us all the time. Think of it as your fat fanny pack.
And because you have a constant supply of energy, you’re not this ravenous, hangry monster, with insatiable cravings anymore. You don’t have this rollercoaster ride of energy and mood swings all day.
You can easily tap into your fat stores for energy that you can use as fuel during your workouts. And, guess what? You have at least 100,000 calories worth of stored energy in your butt, thighs, and belly.
We all have this awesome machinery within us through 2.5 million years of evolution.
You have to remember that our Paleolithic ancestors would sometimes go a full day or days without food. They didn’t consistently eat 3 meals a day with snacks in between.
So we developed this amazing mechanism to store extra energy, because we didn’t have freezers back then. We developed this ability to create stored energy that we carry around with us like a fanny pack.
The way to access it is to limit your daily carb intake and to eat less frequently. That’s step number two.
Remember when I said most people have a 16-17 hour eating window?
Do the opposite of that. Give yourself a 16 hour break from eating and focus on eating nutrient dense foods during your 8 hour eating window. Ideally, you’re just eating two meals.
Make supportive lifestyle choices that promote metabolic flexibility.
The most important one is giving yourself 8 hours of sleep allowance and getting a minimum of 7 hours of quality sleep in a cool, pitch black room every night.
This is non negotiable. Plain and simple, there is no metabolic flexibility without adequate sleep.
If your job for example prevents you from doing this, you should really think about switching careers. Otherwise, there’s just no quality of life. Is your job worth more than your health?
Not getting adequate sleep moves every health metric in the wrong direction. It’s so destructive, the WHO now considers shift work as a probable carcinogen. I’m just saying.
You also wanna avoid prolonged periods where you’re completely sedentary. That promotes metabolic inflexibility. You’re not a tree. You need to move.
That’s why I’m a big proponent of getting 10,000 steps or about an hour of walking spread throughout every day.
You also wanna do strength workouts 2-3 times per week to build and maintain muscle. Again, muscle is our metabolic currency.
And lastly, you also wanna make sure you’re managing stress. A lot of people miss the boat on this and fail to achieve metabolic flexibility.
If I could sum up this very important topic in one sentence, chronic stress is the root cause of all disease.
My entire channel is dedicated towards achieving metabolic flexibility. So if you’re new, make sure to check out all my other videos.
If you just want a proven step-by-step plan on how to achieve metabolic flexibility, then make sure to check out the FLA at the top right hand corner. I’m also gonna put some links in the description below.
Long story short, achieving metabolic flexibility should be your number one goal regardless of whatever diet you’re following. This is the answer.
If you’re metabolically flexible, the weight will come off and everything else falls into place. All you have to do is make your body remember how to do it.
As always, if this was helpful, share it with a friend who could benefit from it as well!
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