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Do you know what metabolic flexibility is and how to achieve it? These 6 habits are the key

Surely you’ve heard about metabolic flexibility at some point, but maybe you don’t really know. the importance it has in the body. The truth is that it is a concept that, although it often goes unnoticed when talking about physical fitness and nutrition, is especially important for the benefits it provides.

In our society increasingly, we see how the number of metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes or obesity have become increasingly common, but specifically In Spain the data already exceeds the worst omens as has been evidenced in the organ of expression of the European Diabetes Society (Diabetology).

This study has also revealed other worrying data such as that nearly 11 million Spaniards suffer from obesity (28.2% of the population). Problems of health caused largely by poor diet or a poor lifestyle, but also by a deficiency in the body’s ability to adapt metabolically.

Below we explain everything about the importance of metabolic flexibility to guarantee our health.

What is metabolic flexibility?

Metabolic flexibility is that which refers to the capacity of our organism to transform fuel into energy through diet and according to the needs we haves (burning fat on the one hand and glucose on the other).

Through this mechanism our body guarantees that we have energy even when we are not eating and without the need for us to be eating every little bit to have that dose of energy.

Being metabolically flexible means that our body can shift efficiently and run with the fuel it has most available. Something that we could buy, for example, with the operation of a hybrid vehicle, which can use both a gasoline engine and an electric engine to operate depending on the type of energy it receives.

In the case of our body, it needs to obtain energy to perform all its functions and it can extract it through three different sources: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Is after eating when our body will decide if use these macronutrients or store them (in muscles, liver or adipose tissue).

Therefore, metabolic flexibility becomes the ability we have to use the right fuel efficiently to obtain energy and this will depend on the type and amount of nutrients we have.

How to achieve metabolic flexibility?

When it comes to understanding how to improve metabolic flexibility, both mitochondrial function and insulin sensitivity come into play. And it is that, a healthy person can effectively switch between fats and carbohydrates as a fuel sourcebut someone who is insulin resistant cannot do it as effectively.

In fact, insulin acts as an energy regulator and controls what fuel source the body uses. If this increases, it promotes glycolysis (one of the methods that cells use to produce energy). On the contrary, if insulin decreases, it causes fatty acids to be oxidized through lipolysis and cells can burn fat reserves in the body.

In the case of mitochondria (those responsible for producing energy in the form of ATP that is used by cells), if they are healthy and transform into energy efficiently, the body can efficiently combine different energy sources guaranteeing optimization of the use of nutrients and increasing the ability to maintain stable blood glucose.

On the contrary, when mitochondrial function is poor, metabolic flexibility decreases and the body may have more difficulty maintaining that proper balance between energy and blood sugar levels.

Taking this into account, there are a series of keys and tips to improve mitochondrial function and insulin sensitivity and therefore also metabolic flexibility.

Take note:

Perform physical exercise– Daily physical exercise and maintaining an active lifestyle is one of the best ways to reverse insulin resistance. You can vary the type of training by exercising more strength, aerobic activity, resistance… Or simply combine all of them.

Either way, you’ll be helping your body tap into its fat stores, although different types of exercise use different combinations of that fuel.

intermittent fasting: Intermittent fasting produces absolute or partial caloric restriction over a certain period of time and this can help use fat more effectively.

It is important to work by progressively increasing these meal intervals but always with the help of an expert nutritionist. As for its effect, it will be more effective if we reduce the intake of carbohydrates (especially simple sugars), as published in Aging Research Reviews.

Avoid continued caloric excess: When our body receives excess calories continuously over time, the mitochondria are collapsed by an excess of substrates derived from fatty acids, glucose and amino acids. And it is precisely this excess that leads to ineffective substrate utilization and the dreaded oxidative stress.

Controlling stress: In the case of chronic stress, this can have a negative impact on insulin sensitivity. This is one of the main reasons why it is important to find ways to manage stress and anxiety.

Ensure a balanced diet: Ensuring a healthy, varied and balanced diet and at the same time avoiding ultra-processed, energy-dense and nutrient-poor foods will also help ensure the effectiveness of metabolic flexibility.

Respect circadian rhythms: Although more research is still needed in this regard, it is known that circadian rhythms have a direct relationship with metabolism. And it reacts differently to the consumption of nutrients depending on the moment in which it occurs and having a good sleeping habit is essential for this metabolic flexibility to be adequate.

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