You are always burning fat – Fat Adaptation vs Keto vs Carbs

It is natural that we look for the right or wrong, black & white, left or right, truth or lie -it is all a part of the BINARY thinking Humans tend toward because it is convenient, simple and easy to understand. This sort of simplicity is intellectually lazy and that laziness makes us vulnerable to manipulation.

However, when it comes to your health, YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE than a simple High Carb/Low Fat or, conversely, Keto as evidenced by the binary back & forth between the High Carb Camp and the Keto Camp.  Throw in the Paleo, Carnivore and Plant based camps (Vegan & Vegetarian) and you have a big, loud and mostly incomprehensible mess!

Here is a truth - You are always metabolizing fat.  Even if a large part of your energy comes from carbohydrates you cannot live without it! 

Fats not only are our prime aerobic energy source but are crucial to every part and function of our body; cholesterols and Lipoproteins, the carriers of energy and substrates for every cell, enzyme and hormone of your body are composed of fats. Every cell, enzyme and hormone are composed of fatty acids….and your large brain; once again fat plays both a major and critical role (oddly the brain is not that good at burning fat though!). And these fundamental truths of biology are why you want to optimize your fat metabolism, if you want your body to be optimal regardless of your chosen fuel. 

How Glucose affects your Fat Metabolism and Cholesterol

Glucose is the ‘Metabolic Bully’ (a term coined by Drs. Stephen Phinney MD/PhD and Jeff Volek RD/PhD) that cuts to the front of the line for energy. It has to because the effects of chronically elevated glucose are toxic. Just ask any Type 1 Diabetic what happens when they do not bolus with insulin to get their blood sugar down after consuming significant amounts of carbohydrates….they can go into a Diabetic Coma die!

Your body deals with this by secreting insulin to drive the blood glucose into the cells and converted to energy and/or to your liver cells to actually be converted to fat to store all that energy! 

However, in doing so, fat metabolism is impaired. This has critical implications all around for both performance and health. I could go down dozens of Rabbit Holes here to tell you WHY but I would lose you in the process. 

Keto is not an optimal state

Full Keto is not an optimal state for most athletes. Keto really is a conservation state which is why when you are full Ketosis, most athletes feel like they have a governor on and they cannot find that extra gear they had when on a high carbohydrate diet.  

And here is the caveat on ‘The Science’ of Keto for athletes: Almost all of the studies on Ketogenic Diets have been done on sedentary and metabolically compromised subjects (T2 diabetics, obese, Epilectic & Gran Mal Seizures, Metabolic Syndrome, MS, etc). Please note that I am NOT slamming a ketogenic diet here. I am a huge believer in using Keto as a tool for optimal performance and health but there are both differences and limitations in applying keto for the athlete.

So what is Optimal for an athlete

Optimized Fat Metabolism blends Ketosis with strategic carbs, so you can enjoy optimal performance and health….in fact, when your fat metabolism is optimized you actually have optimal carbohydrate metabolism…...how is this possible? It’s complicated, but an optimized fat metabolism in the context of our evolutionary heritage means we can convert carbohydrates to both energy and fat for stored energy in an efficient way which maintains hormonal balance so you don’t fall into the cycle of constantly needing to consume carbs.

You are an individual

Your unique, complex and dynamic situation is why you cannot apply binary thinking to your health and performance.  Optimizing YOUR health and YOUR performance depends upon approaching YOU as an individual not as a commodity. This means there are no shortcuts, no simple plans or programs except the one designed, developed and constantly tweaked for you. 

Sure, there are tools of physiology, metabolism, diet, training and lifestyle common to all individuals but it is the way they are applied in the context of the individual’s situation, goals and sport that make all the difference. This is why OFM adapts to YOU rather than forcing you to adapt to a cookie-cutter program.

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