The theory of “Calories In, Calories Out” really doesn’t work, primarily because we are not machines with a single fuel source and only one way to store and burn fuel. Our bodies are hormonal and those hormones have a tremendous effect on how we burn and store fuel, both glycogen and fat.
How many times have we heard that a calorie is a calorie? This is beyond an over simplification. It just isn’t true. Our bodies store and burn primarily two different types of fuel- fat and glycogen. We have two different metabolic systems- aerobic, being fat burning and anaerobic which burns glycogen.
Have you ever felt sluggish a couple hours after a starchy meal? Of course you have. And your first instinct, since taking a nap may not be practical at the moment, is to eat again to try to regain some energy. Generally the choice, or craving, will be for another starchy food to get your blood sugar back up.
Insulin sensitivity is important to allow our bodies to store fuel in muscle cells- otherwise all fuel is shuttled to our fat cells to be stored as fat. Resistance training is a great way to improve insulin sensitivity because it drains the glycogen stores in our muscles and creates a demand on our bodies to refuel them, either from the food that we eat or from fat cells.
Intermittent fasting provides a longer fasted period during the day during which your body has to rely more on fat stores. This may take a couple weeks to get used to at first, but your body will get more efficient at releasing and using stored fat for fuel and will supply your energy needs until your first meal, usually around lunch time. Ideally you want to have about a 16 hour window from the last time you ate the day before until your first meal the next day.
We see a lot of farm raised fish in the grocery stores these days but if you are wanting the health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids you won’t find them in these grain fed fish. Grains contain primarily omega 6 fatty acids which are inflammatory, as opposed to anti-inflammatory omega 3’s. Omega 3’s are found in the meat of fish that eat green food like kelp and seaweed, not corn.
We hear a lot about things we can do to boost our metabolism but how much of an impact do those actions really make? The majority of our metabolic rate comes from organ function and supporting our tissues. About 10% comes from the digestion of food (TEF) called the Thermic Effect of Food and 10-20% from our activity, depending on how active we are.
Interval training or high intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way to train your heart muscle and max out your fat burning metabolism. When you cross your anaerobic threshold, usually around 80% of your max heart rate, it is because the energy demand of your activity has maxed out the capacity of your aerobic metabolism and needs more energy to continue at that pace. Your aerobic metabolism doesn’t stop. It continues at full capacity, breaking down fat, using oxygen, to provide as much energy as it can while your anaerobic metabolism ramps up, adding more stored glycogen to the available energy pool.
One of the biggest concerns or “scares” of a low carb, high fat diet is the fear of heart disease from an increased intake of saturated fat and cholesterol. The low fat dogma of 70’s and 80’s is embedded deep, even into the text books of doctors and nutritionists who are advising people about weight loss, diabetes and heart disease, telling them to reduce fat and eat more “whole grains”. Of course this couldn’t be further from the truth since the real culprits for these diseases, and their recent increase, are sugar and the modern, super engineered dwarf wheat.