Understanding Metabolic Flexibility + Exactly How To Achieve It

Metabolic

Most of us want to be healthy in more ways than one. We want to look good on the outside and feel good on the inside. But in order for this to happen, our metabolism needs to be performing at top speed. 

We spoke to metabolic health experts at Lumen, the creator’s of the world’s first metabolism measurement device to get their insight into why we should focus on improving our metabolism , how their product works and what’s behind the buzzword metabolic flexibility.

The purpose of our metabolism is to convert the food we eat into usable energy for our bodies, and it starts with the food we eat on a daily basis. However, contrary to what you may have been taught, your body’s metabolism is not static and it can be affected in ways that make it more efficient at taking the food we eat and using it for energy.

Rather than focusing on the conventional idea of eating less to lose weight or boost our metabolism, we should be turning our attention to enhancing how we respond to food. We need to be focusing on achieving metabolic flexibility.

As a functional medicine expert and author of the NYT best-selling book Intuitive Fasting, I have seen firsthand the extreme power that comes from being metabolically flexible. So let’s take a look at what it really means to achieve metabolic flexibility and what it can do for your health.

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What is metabolic flexibility?

Metabolic flexibility is your metabolism’s ability to effectively switch between using carbs or fats as a source of energy. Most of us solely rely on sugar as fuel - too much of it, in fact. Burning sugar as your primary energy source is like using dirty fuel. It puts you on a blood sugar rollercoaster having to refuel often, otherwise you will get “hangry”. This consistent fuel burning also leaves behind pollution in the form of inflammation and eventually additional metabolic health problems like weight loss resistance, fatigue, diabetes, and more.

On the other hand, fat-burning is a more efficient fuel source for your metabolism. A byproduct of fat-burning metabolism is ketones, which your body and brain can use as an alternate slow-burning, efficient source of fuel. This allows you to consume less carbohydrates while also increasing your energy.

Metabolic flexibility gives you the opportunity to intuitively trust your body to function at optimal capacity. Whether you’ve eaten six minutes or six hours ago, eaten a higher carb meal or a higher fat meal, you can be confident in the fact that your body is taking care of itself and is able to respond in a healthy way from either fuel source.

How do you achieve metabolic flexibility?

Thankfully, many of the factors that impact your metabolism are within your control and can be changed to improve your body’s metabolic flexibility. As I talk about in detail in my book Intuitive Fasting, the food you eat and how often you eat, holds a lot of power over your metabolism. 

While everyone is different and your exact diet is going to look different than someone else's, in general practicing intermittent fasting and focusing on clean, whole food sources, eating fewer sugar and carbs, and eating more healthy fats, are going to do wonders for achieving metabolic flexibility.

How do you know if you are metabolically flexible?

As you start on your journey, you’ll start to experience some amazing health benefits of an optimized metabolism including:

  • You no longer get “hangry”
  • You have more energy
  • You don’t get tired immediately after a meal
  • You no longer experience “brain fog”

While these are some great benefits that you might experience, they don’t definitively tell you whether or not you’ve truly achieved metabolic flexibility or not.

That’s why I always recommend Lumen to my patients, and anyone else looking to understand their metabolism. Lumen is the world’s first hand-held, portable device to accurately measure metabolism. By using a special CO2 sensor and flow meter, Lumen is able to determine exactly what fuel your body is using to produce energy by measuring the CO2 concentration in your breath - the higher your CO2, the more carbs you are burning and the lower your CO2 the more fat you are burning. Founded by Ironman competitors and PHD’s in nutrition Michal and Merav Mor, it’s the first metabolism measurement device of its kind.

“A beautiful body is a well-functioning body. If you’re able to use the right fuel at the right time, you’ve achieved what’s called metabolic flexibility. Things you had a harder time processing before like a piece of pie, now become easier to metabolize. It’s a funny example but basically, it’s training your body to process carbs and fats more efficiently,” says the founder of Lumen, PHD in physiology and nutrition Michal Mor.

Since it is so easy to measure your progress at home or on the go, you are able to optimize every aspect of your metabolism. Here are some of my favorite ways that Lumen makes optimizing your metabolism easier than ever.

  • Nutrition

Between counting macros, intermittent fasting, and the various diets and different ways of eating, there’s no doubt that nutrition can become a very confusing and overwhelming part of your life. Lumen aims to streamline that aspect of your life by providing daily, personalized meal plans based on your body’s real-time needs. Depending on your results, Lumen will be able to tell you exactly what to eat and when, so that you can continue on your way to metabolic flexibility.

  • Sleep

Adequate sleep is essential for optimal health, including a thriving metabolism. Lumen is able to see your sleep patterns and its effect on your metabolism and provide insight on how to optimize your sleep for enhanced metabolic flexibility.

  • Exercise

Lumen helps you optimize your workouts by showing you where you stand before and after a workout. By using Lumen, you’ll be able to see if you have enough energy or need to fuel up before exercising and how each workout affects your body and if you need to make any adjustments to future workouts.

Before Lumen, the only true way to measure metabolism was in a clinical setting through an expensive breath test known as RER. But now, Lumen has put the power in the consumers hands with their scientifically-backed device that is proven to be as accurate as these gold-standard RER tests.

Lumen makes achieving metabolic flexibility as easy as one simple breath every morning. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s one of the easiest ways anyone can start reclaiming their health!

So if you’d like to learn more about metabolic flexibility, check out my book Intuitive Fasting and for a limited time, take advantage of this life-changing technology by getting $50 off your Lumen product today using code DRCOLE50. 

As one of the first functional medicine telehealth clinics in the world, we provide webcam health consultations for people around the globe. 

Photo: unsplash.com

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BY DR. WILL COLE

Evidence-based reviewed article

Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC, leading functional medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He received his doctorate from Southern California University of Health Sciences and post doctorate education and training in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. He specializes in clinically researching underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the best selling author of Ketotarian and The Inflammation Spectrum.