How to Use Your Natural Metabolic Cycle for Weight Loss (Part 1)
By William Lovett, M.D.
When it comes to weight loss, weight gain, or maintaining a healthy weight, the conversation often starts and ends with your metabolism. Unfortunately, metabolism is a complex biological and physiological condition with many misconceptions swirling around it. To help dispel these misconceptions and ensure you are on the right foot to start your healthy weight journey, I’m going to take a deeper look at metabolism.
What is metabolism?
Put simply, it’s how your body processes food into energy. It’s what allows you to optimize nutrition, play your favorite sport, or simply go about your daily activities.
What affects metabolism?
The quality and quantity of food you consume, how much is absorbed by the digestive tract, and where your body is in the metabolic cycle all affect how well your body converts food to energy, as well as what gets stored as fat.
Additionally, our age impacts how well our metabolism functions. As we age, our metabolism starts dropping due to a decrease in our Basal Metabolic Rate (the number of calories required to keep your body functioning while “at rest”). Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is driven by how much you weigh, how much muscle mass you have, and how much you exercise, and it accounts for about 80-85% of your calorie deficit each day. Therefore, if you want to lose weight, diet is more important than exercise. Most people will add 2 pounds per year if they don’t change their eating habits slightly every year. While your DNA decides where you will store fat, it’s up to you how much fat you wish to store.
How does the metabolic cycle work?
A lot of people don’t realize that there are three metabolic states. These states not only affect your metabolism, but they actually determine what happens to the food you ingest.
1. Absorptive (fed) state – As soon as you put a piece of food in your mouth, this state begins to digest the nutrients and increase absorption for immediate use of fuel. Any excess glucose, fats, and proteins are stored for later fasting stages.
- If you eat primarily proteins, your body will depend on your stored fat to supply much of the calories your body needs.
- If you eat foods with a lot of fat in them, your body will try to add to your fat stores.
- If you eat a lot of carbohydrates, your body will eventually store them as fat. This is especially true if you have been on a low-carb diet because your body will read it as a starvation situation.
2. Post-absorptive (fasting) state – This metabolic state sets in when you haven’t eaten anything for a few hours, such as when you’re sleeping at night or if you skip a meal during the day. Your body will initially pull energy from sugar (glucose and glycogen) stored in your blood, but when this is depleted, your body begins converting fat to fuel. This helps maintain your energy until your next meal, where your immediate fuel levels and future nutrient stores will be replaced in preparation for the next post-absorptive state.
3. Starvation state – Unlike the first two states which happen throughout your day, most well-nourished people will not enter starvation states regularly. This state happens if the fasting state is not broken. With little-to-no glucose left stored in your body, you will produce ketones as energy for the heart and main organs, reserving any remaining glucose for your brain. While mild ketosis is not harmful – and can sometimes even be helpful – severe ketosis is usually harmful.
How do I get started with weight loss?
To reach or maintain a healthy weight, it’s important that you not only watch what you eat, but the portions and quality of the food as well. If you are interested in a custom-tailored plan for your unique weight loss goals, please fill out our online consultation form to get started. We are here to help you feel better, live better, and look better!
Ready for Part 2? Click HERE to read about Ketogenic Diets!
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