Do you like to listen to podcasts about health and fitness? If you’re like me, you hear the terms “metabolic flexibility” and “fat-adapted” tossed around a lot. We are supposed to know what that means, but just in case you’re not 100% clear I did some research for my own sake, as much as yours. Metabolic flexibility means that your body burns BOTH fat and sugar for fuel.
We are born with the ability as infants to use both fat and sugar as fuel, but we start to lose this over time. An estimated 80% of us are suffering from some form of metabolic inflexibility. Why does that matter and how do we tell if we are metabolically flexible or not?
If you HAVE metabolic flexibility that means your body is more resilient, or better able to recover from stress. When you have metabolic flexibility your blood sugar is more stable and you have less inflammation.
What are the Signs of Metabolic Inflexibility?
These are signs that your metabolism is NOT flexible:
- You can NOT go more than 5 hours without eating
- You feel hangry when you don’t eat often
- You have lots of food cravings
- Hypoglycemia, this is not to say you aren’t hypoglycemic, but these two things often go hand in hand.
- You have insulin resistance or are a Type 2 diabetic
Beyond these signs, there are more definitive tools to tell when your body is burning carbohydrates or fat. One of those tools is the Lumen. The Lumen is a tool that uses your breath to tell you what your body is using for energy. I wrote a post about how the Lumen works here.
Read more about Metabolic Flexibility here.
What Are The Benefits of Metabolic Flexibility?
The benefits to having metabolic flexibility include:
- Fewer sugar highs and lows that leave you feeling famished
- Easier weight loss
- More consistent blood sugar levels (which are better for long term health)
- More energy and better sleep
Three Ways to Increase Metabolic Flexibility
First, it takes time to do this. It doesn’t happen in a week or two. Becoming more flexible is something that takes consistently good habits. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect all the time, but the more consistent you are the better your flexibility will become.
Here are the three ways to improve your metabolic flexility:
- Time restricted eating – When I first heard about intermittent fasting (time restricted eating) I thought it was a TERRIBLE idea and I was literally afraid to skip breakfast. I started small but putting off breakfast for 1 hour. Over months I worked up to skipping breakfast and getting to a six hour eating window most days.
- Low carb eating – This doesn’t mean no carbs, it means most of the time get your carbs from vegetables instead of flour and sugar. No Doctor on the planet is going to suggest that you need MORE flour ad sugar.
- Exercise – Working out in a fasted state increases the odds that your body will burn through the sugar and start burning fat. This just means that if you can, it helps if you exercise before you eat your first meal of the day.
Metabolic flexibility is a complicated thing to measure, but it’s a concept worth investigating if you want a long and healthy life.