Metabolic Efficiency Training: Teaching the Body to Burn More Fat
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Metabolic Efficiency Training: Teaching the Body to Burn More Fat Guest post for MyNetDiary Blog by Bob Seebohar , MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS, a Board Certified Specialist in Sport Dietetics and former Sport Dietitian for the US Olympic Committee. Ready for a change?
Ready for a change? Tired of not attaining your nutrition goals? Do you gain weight when you start exercising or training for an endurance event? Well keep reading then because I have some valuable information to share with you. I would like to change your paradigm of thinking about nutrition so you can teach your body to use the right nutrients at the right times to improve your health and exercise better.
I am not proposing a complete nutrition makeover. I believe that the more complex you make something, especially nutrition, the less likely you will follow it. If it's simple, it's sustainable.
Enter the topic of metabolic efficiency. From a nutrition perspective, being metabolically efficient means being able to burn more fat, period. At any given time, you have about 1,200-1,800 calories stored in your body as carbohydrate but upwards of 80,000 calories stored as fat. There is a huge opportunity to teach your body to use more of its internal fat stores and preserve carbohydrates!
Why Be More Metabolically Efficient?
I've been working with recreational and competitive athletes for many years and whenever I ask them about their short and long-term goals, I typically receive the same two responses: lose weight and decrease body fat. Of course you know that manipulating your body weight and composition in a favorable direction can have a positive impact on your health and exercise program. The first step in
doing this is changing your nutrition paradigm and how you approach food, not about how much you exercise. Controlling blood sugar is your first step.
Carbohydrates are a staple in our eating plan and for good reason. They provide the energy that is needed to fuel the body during exercise. But sometimes, eating a higher carbohydrate diet can lead to weight and body fat gain. This happens quite frequently to new exercisers when they first begin a program and quite often, these people tend to gain weight in the early phases of exercise. Often times, this is simply a mismatch of the calories that you eat with the calories you are burning. It is important to understand that in the beginning weeks of an exercise or training program, you do not need to significantly increase your daily food intake because your energy expenditure is not extremely high.
In this scenario, a person usually overeats carbohydrate rich foods and forgets about the other two macronutrients-protein and fat. Eating too much of any one macronutrient can lead to metabolic inefficiencies. Focus too heavy on one macronutrient and a state of imbalance occurs. Eat a combination of foods and you will remain in balance.
Controlling blood sugar becomes your first order of business. When your blood sugar is high, so is the hormone insulin. When insulin levels are high, this decreases your body's ability to use its internal fat stores as energy. Controlling your blood sugar will keep you fuller longer and reduce your food cravings.
As you approach your food selection and preparation, prioritize your meals and snacks. First on your plate should be a source of lean protein and healthy, omega-3 rich fat. Second up is a healthy portion of fruits and/or vegetables. Then, if you have room on the plate (no more than 1/4 of the plate), add a few whole grains. Following this approach ensures that you obtain balance without overdoing it on the carbohydrates. Focus on color. Your plate should be oozing with vibrant colors such as green, red, purple, orange and yellow. Limit the browns, light yellows and tans.
This should not be too difficult. It will take preparation and commitment on your part but remember, this is a behavior change and can take a few weeks to adopt. Start now and remember to allow yourself some times where you will take a few steps backwards. It's all part of the process of improving your nutrition plan!