Many people struggle when it comes to losing weight and finding the right foods to either include or exclude from their diet. To make it even harder, there’s seemingly endless sources claiming to have the foolproof diet, workout, or supplement to get anyone their desired results. In reality there are so many factors that influence one’s suggested intake, that there is no universal diet.
Don’t lose hope! Losing weight is not impossible. The answer may very well be in your metabolic flexibility.
Your metabolism is the process in which cells convert whatever you eat into energy for your body. When you eat, your food is either burned for energy or stored if what you ate was in excess of your energy needs. Any excess carbohydrates are stored as glycogen(which serves as quick energy reserves) or fat tissue if glycogen stores are full. Any extra fat is also put away for later use, as fat tissue.
Metabolic flexibility refers to how easily your body can switch from using carbs or fats for fuel. Those with flexible metabolisms can easily convert fatty, sugary, and high caloric foods into energy. People with low flexibility will used the stored glycogen for energy, leaving behind the fat.
In other words, if you find it impossible to burn fat, chances are that you are metabolically inflexible. However, there are ways to train your body and improve you metabolic flexibility:
- Exercise – The first (and most obvious) tip is to exercise regularly. If you have that part down, try adding some variety to your workouts. Different types of exercise use different mixes of fuel and eventually may train your body to use different fuel sources during day-to-day activities. Try “fasted cardio.” Intense cardio with little glycogen stored is a great way to train your metabolism
- Intermittent Fasting – Try taking longer breaks in between meals. If you usually feel hungry 2-3 hours after a meal, your body is used to incoming energy (food) and keeping fat stored instead of burning it. This will take some time to get used to as you space out time between meals and train your body to use its stored fat.
- Try Different Macronutrient Ratios – Consuming less carbohydrates will train your body to use fats for fuel. Also, don’t forget that it is important to consume the right kinds of fats. Avoid trans and saturated fats. Look for nutrient dense fats in foods like olive and coconut oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.