What is Fat Adaptation?

This is a question I get asked a lot, and, of course, there are a lot of online “gurus” claiming to understand Fat Adaptation who have magically appeared in the past 3 years to add to the confusion. 

In my 18+ years of developing with Fat Adaptation for performance I’ve worked with a lot of athletes and, together, we have gotten results. I have also seen a lot of “well-intended” but  “out of context” advice that can actually hinder your athletic performance. This is way too common with the explosion of the ketogenic diet. 

For most of us here is what Performance Fat Adaptation is NOT:

  • Super high fat macros, negligible carb macros and ‘moderate’ protein macros. In fact, it’s not about macros at all but eating REAL food in the proportion, timing and balance to mimic nature

  • Consuming a bunch of MCT oil, coconut oil, nut butters, fat bombs or exogenous ketones

  • Chasing your data; chasing ketones, Blood Sugar or insulin levels, etc. 

  • Constantly ‘hacking’ yourself. OFM allows YOU to BE yourself!

All of these things are commonly put out there because they are quantifiable.  Fat Adaptation does not work that way. 

“OFM uses data to confirm your experience and how you are feeling to become the intuitive athlete!”

For example, the fact that you are not constantly hungry or bonking during exercise are key markers. The fact you can perform at a high level fasted only using VESPA for hours is another.  It is about taking the individual approach.

Chasing Ketones is not the key:

Fat Adaptation is not about mega ketone levels in your blood.  It’s not what is in your blood it is what your body can metabolize as energy. This is why the trend we see in OFM athletes is well adapted athletes will run sub-clinical ketone levels because their bodies prefer to metabolize ketones for energy over glucose and reserve glucose for the high intensity work. 

OFM athletes are able to perform multiple hour training sessions on negligible amounts of exogenous calories, because they are burning fat through beta-oxidation, ketosis and even gluco-neogenesis (the hepatic synthesis of glucose) whle conserving their glycogen.

Understanding Your Glucose Levels:

This is another aspect of a Fat Adapted Athlete particularly when doing the kind of sports that require surges and explosive bursts of energy.  These athletes will tend to run high fasting glucose and sub-clinical serum ketones. Glucose is the energy needed to bridge the gap to go from a sedentary state to an active one until the fat burning ‘Switch’ turns on.

Understanding Carbohydrates Tolerance and Fat Adaptation

The greater your carbohydrate tolerance, the more you can use them in your performance.  These are like a turbo booster, and when used correctly they will not affect your fat adapted state. When properly adapted we view concentrated forms of carbohydrates as a “Legal PED”

Finding the balance between High Carb and Keto

So it is not about science and using one approach. It is about utilizing what we learn and understand from science, data and real world experience to harness your onboard fat storage for performance INSTEAD of loading up on energy before a performance. 

Fat adaptation is about training your body to metabolize fat as your primary energy utilizing all the physiological pathways for the mix of carbs and fats to attain your health & performance potential.

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