Lately the term “Metabolic Flexibility” has been thrown around a lot lately. To keep things simple, “metabolic flexibility" refers to the body’s ability to efficiently switch from one fuel source to another. To me, metabolic flexibility simply means the body’s ability to burn fat when the appropriate conditions are made. To kick things off, I’ll immediately say that the ketogenic diet is one of the more straightforward ways to improve metabolic flexibility because of its ability provide the body with the machinery needed to utilize fat more efficiently.
A study from the American Physiological society defines “Metabolic Inflexibility” as “The inability to modify fuel oxidation in response to changes in nutrient availability”. The study also states that metabolic inflexibility “has been implicated in the accumulation of intramyocellular lipid and insulin resistance”.
While I’m not fully committed to a full ketogenic or fasted lifestyle, I still use some of the principles in my everyday diet. This allows me to take advantage of some of the benefits of going keto and fasted while enabling myself to enjoy the occasional high carb meal throughout the week. #commitmentissues
Here are some of the ways I utilize IF and Keto principles in my everyday routine…
1. Exercise-Induced Insulin Sensitivity. Of course, I had to put exercise as the first step to increasing metabolic flexibility. Taking part in high-intensity workouts like sprints, metcons and lifting weights can increase insulin sensitivity as it’s the easiest way to utilize and lower circulating blood sugar in the short and long term.
2. Modified Protein Sparring Fast. This is essentially meant to bring your calories as low as possible while continuing to keep protein intake high in order to limit the amount of muscle breakdown and nutrient deficiencies. This can also be seen as a “low carb” diet as well, except the focus is on keeping calories low rather than focusing on carb intake alone.
3. Fasted training. Whether it’s a heavy meal from the night before or a calorically dense meal that goes over your normal intake, the easiest way to reset is by training fasted. I was recently listening to a Robb Wolf podcast where he mentioned something so simple and direct that I had to repost it on Instagram. This isn’t a direct quote but he mentioned that far too often, we complicate fat loss. He mentions that a little fasted training, with some coffee, and a post-workout sauna session (which increases circulation triggers heat shock proteins) can go a long way.
The common theme here is keeping insulin low by eliminating high sugar foods, exercise and including a variety of healthy fats and fiber which will adapt the body to efficiently utilize fat as a fuel source when appropriate. For these reasons, a keto style diet may be something to consider if metabolic flexibility is your goal and if not, include the 3 tips mentioned above into your everyday routine to keep insulin low and increase the body’s ability to utilize fat as a substrate for energy production.