Is your metabolism a gas-guzzling SUV? Or is it a sleek hybrid sedan? The difference between the two can mean either thriving in mid-life or feeling pretty miserable. Your metabolic flexibility can literally either make or break your health and sense of well-being.
Is this you?
- You get sleepy after eating carbs.
- You can’t go five hours between meals
- You get the midday crash every day after lunch.
- You must snack to sustain your energy levels.
- Fasting is difficult, and if you manage to power through the discomfort, you get worse results than you were expecting (muscle loss, very little fat loss).
- You can’t function without a steady stream of stimulants, like coffee, tea, or sugar-filled drinks
If you answered “yes” to those, you may be metabolically inflexible. When it comes to our health, one of the biggest levers we can pull to feel good is optimizing our metabolic flexibility!
So, I am going to break down:
- What it means to be metabolically flexible
- Share 3 reasons why it matters throughout our entire life and especially matters as we get older!
- The 4 biggest levers on how to actually become metabolically flexible
What is metabolic flexibility?
The easiest way to explain metabolic flexibility is to go back to that car analogy.
A standard car has one fuel source, gasoline. This is like someone who is metabolically inflexible. Easy access to processed and high-carbohydrate foods creates carb-dependent, metabolically inflexible people. So relying on carbs as a single fuel source means the body loses its ability to easily use fat as fuel.
And vice versa, if we are in ketosis for too long, our body forgets how to use carbs as a fuel source too.
Now… A hybrid vehicle is flexible, switching between gasoline and electricity for its fuel. Sometimes it gets all its power from the electric motor, sometimes from the gas engine, and sometimes both.
Why is metabolic flexibility important?
Here are 3 powerful reasons to have metabolic flexibility at any age:
#1: Better weight management and metabolic maintenance
The more metabolically flexible we are, the less we have to micromanage our macronutrients and calories. We can just eat and, as long as we stick to whole foods, the satiety signaling we receive will generally be accurate and reliable.
#2: We preserve our mitochondria (the energy powerhouse in our cells) and maintain our energy levels
A 2007 study took muscle biopsies of age-matched metabolically flexible and inflexible subjects. The flexible subjects had far higher mitochondrial density and burned more fat on a high-fat diet.
Having too few mitochondria that don’t even work all that well severely limits the amount of energy you can produce. It makes switching between fuels difficult and snacking almost inevitable.
#3: Reduced risk of chronic metabolic diseases – heart disease, dementia, diabetes, and cancer. Enough said.
So, how to get started with increasing your metabolic flexibility? Here are 4 simple, yet effective steps:
1. Track your glucose
It’s challenging to know what is happening to your glucose levels or if there’s a potential strain on your cells unless you actively track levels.
The only way to track your glucose in real time is to use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). It lets you see which lifestyle influences and foods directly impact your glucose levels. Refer to this podcast for an in-depth review of my experience using one for an entire year.
Armed with this knowledge, you can make simple yet effective changes that improve your metabolic health. It also allows you to experiment with foods to ensure you find a nutrition plan personalized to your individual body reactions.
For my own signature blood-sugar support supplement to help keep blood sugar and energy levels optimal, try Gluco Support.
2. Focus on your diet
Diet always affects your metabolic flexibility. Remember the phrase, “you can’t outrun a bad diet.”
Even with regular exercise, a bad diet puts stress on your body at a cellular level. Eating hormone-loving foods and avoiding processed, refined foods with added sugar is the best place to start.
Consider cyclical ketosis.
A cyclical ketosis diet involves eating a standard keto diet (high fat, low-carb) for most of the week but adding in periods of eating more carbs to bring your body in and out of ketosis and thus allowing your body to use both glucose and fat as fuel- becoming more metabolically flexible.
The perfect cyclical keto diet is very personal. Some people thrive with one higher-carb meal per day in their routine. Others do better by adding in one full higher-carb day per week.
The best way to find your ideal pattern is to use a CGM so that you can assess in real time how your body responds.
3. Get enough exercise
Lack of physical inactivity is one of the leading causes of metabolic inflexibility.
Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day is key in fighting this because it helps control glucose levels. Check out my podcast about how to best exercise for hormonal and overall health.
Any type of exercise is a win! Trying different types of workouts in your exercise routine can also assist your body to become more metabolically flexible.
But, experts believe that incorporating a mix of walking and strength training gives optimal results. Walking improves mitochondrial function while strength training promotes insulin sensitivity and glucose management.
4. Intermittent fasting
Timing when you eat also plays a pivotal role in metabolic health.
If you are looking to improve metabolic flexibility without affecting your lean muscle mass, then intermittent fasting (or not eating for a set period each day of 14-24 hours) is a well-researched place to start.
Fasting helps to reduce insulin levels quickly, prompting your body to switch fuel sources to use ketones. For a deeper dive into intermittent fasting, check out this blog post and podcast.
And if you want to kick your wellness regimen up a notch to achieve an even more heightened sense of well-being, try my Essentially Whole Magnesium Restore supplement. You will have more energy, better sleep, and improved digestion among other benefits at the cellular level. You will love it!
The Bottom Line
Hands down, these are the 4 best ways to boost metabolic flexibility and stay in that zone! And when you are consistent with 2-3 of them, you will see a huge difference. Knowledge is power, and now that you know, step out of that SUV and into that hybrid sedan!
Get My Top 14 Hormone-Balancing Recipes!
Filling your body with the right fuels has an incredible impact on your hormones and energy. Download my free guide to the best hormone-balancing recipes here! Download Dr. Mariza’s Hormone Recipes HereHeck Yeah, Help Me Fix My Metabolism!
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