The Six Facts You Must Know about Metabolism

To understand how my Fat-Burning Metabolic Fitness Plan works, youmust first understand what is meant by the word metabolism. Metabolismis the sum total of all the chemical and physiological changes that takeplace within the body. This includes the transformation of food intoenergy, the growth and repair of muscle and bone tissue, and the creationof enzymes and hormones. The basal metabolic rate (BMR) accounts forabout 70 percent of daily energy expenditure. The amount of energyrequired to digest and utilize food makes up 5 to 10 percent of daily energyoutput, and the energy expended in physical activity uses an additional 20to 30 percent.North Americans spend a total of $30 billion on commercial weightlossprograms and $6 billion on weight-loss products per year. At anygiven time, 25 percent of all men and 40 percent of all women are on somekind of diet. Yet we are still an overweight and obese society because wehave many misconceptions about the metabolic processes that causepeople to gain and lose body fat.While it’s true that almost any weight-loss regimen will cause you tolose pounds in the short run, the real issue is if you will be able to keep themoff in the long run. Unfortunately, most diets fail the test of time. Accordingto the American College of Sports Medicine, people gain back 67 percent oftheir lost weight within one year and the rest within five years.

Understanding Your Metabolism
To really understand how your metabolism works and how to make it work
for you, there are six important facts you must keep in mind.
Fact #1: Fat Storage Is a Natural Survival Mechanism
The body’s ability to efficiently store fat began as a survival mechanism
when our human ancestors were hunter-gatherers. Up until the development
of agriculture ten thousand years ago, human beings lived in an environment
that had no quick and easy sources of food. Early humans needed
some kind of physical means to store energy so that they could do the
exhausting work of hunting down large animals, sometimes over great distances,
running down smaller swift animals, and walking many miles daily
to gather nuts, vegetables, grains, and fruits. This energy took the form of
extra body fat.
While each person has a different ideal percentage of body fat depending
on gender and frame size, generally an average healthy body fat is
18–22 percent for women and 15–17 percent for men.
Fact #2: Eating Too Little Can Slow Down
Your Metabolism
Eating too few calories for the efficient functioning of your metabolism
ultimately results in more stored fat. This might sound like a contradiction,
but eating a calorically deprived diet over a long period of time actually
causes the body to begin to hang on to the fat supplies it has and even add
to them. Because a steady supply of food was not guaranteed to our
hunter-gatherer forebears, the body developed the added ability to slow
down the metabolism and store extra fat during periods of famine. If we
did not have this ability, we would not have survived the lean times.
This is the primary reason that very low-calorie or starvation diets do not
work in the long run. Almost everyone who has ever been on a calorically
deprived diet knows that at first the pounds just melt off. But eventually you
reach a plateau where you stop losing weight, no matter how hard you try.
That is your body’s natural fat-storing survival mechanism kicking in.
Recent studies have even shown an unexpected link between chronic
caloric deprivation and obesity. Research conducted by Cornell University
and the University of California at Davis have shown the connections
between obesity, hunger, and poverty: poor women who periodically go
without food so that their children can eat are often obese. The more often
you starve yourself to try and lose weight, the slower and less efficient
your metabolism will become.
In 1993 I had a client who was a former heavyweight boxing champion
who would always be 25 to 45 pounds overweight going into our training
camps. Each time we prepared him for a fight, he would be losing the same
weight over and over again. This meant that we would have to prolong the
usual six-week training period to about three months, which often brought
us close to the edge of training burnout. It was a tremendous waste of time
and resources to train a quarter of a year because of a simple weight issue.
On one occasion we had been training hard for two weeks and my
client had not lost a single pound. This was a serious problem because the
fight was only six weeks away. Thinking that low thyroid function might
be the cause of his inability to lose weight, my doctor ordered a thyroid
test, but the test came back normal.
At this time in my career, I had begun reading studies on metabolism. I
consulted with the doctor we were using for this program, and he and I
decided to run a simple metabolic activity test on our client. The test
results showed that his metabolic rate had been slowed by 30 percent. We
discovered the reason was that he wasn’t following the food plan we had
given him to help him lose weight and support the intense physical activity
of his training program. Thinking it would help him to lose weight faster,
he wasn’t eating breakfast and was skimping on lunch. The opposite had
occurred. He was tired in training and his body was hanging on to its fat
supplies because it thought there was a famine going on. In other words
it was slowing down his metabolic rate. At first it was difficult for us to
convince him that he had to eat more to lose weight because it went against
what he perceived as logic. But as soon as he began eating the proper number
of calories and nutrients, he saw the pounds begin to come off.
In his book Turn Up the Heat: Unlock the Fat-Burning Power of Your
Metabolism, nutritionist and champion bodybuilder Philip Goglia points
out that we are a consistently underfed society: “I have found that most of
the people who come to me with weight and health problems are usually
already ingesting far fewer calories than they should in order to efficiently
fuel their bodies. Therefore, their metabolism, the body’s calorie-burning
furnace, is already running 25 percent to 60 percent below its ideal metabolicefficiency
level. In turn, the body is storing much of the limited amounts of
food these individuals eat as fat and wasting muscle tissue as an adaptive
mechanism to create an alternative energy source.”

You have to eat a certain amount of calories per day to lose body fat
and preserve and build lean muscle mass. Eating too few calories can even
cause your body to cannibalize its own lean muscle to get the nutrients
needed for survival.
Fact #3: What You Eat Is as Important as
How Much You Eat
Longevity studies have shown the importance of not only eating the right
number of calories to support your metabolism but eating low-glycemic
nutrient-dense calories to prolong the length, health, and quality of your
life. For some this might indeed mean having to cut back on calories. But
for most this won’t be the case.
Our ancestors evolved by eating a diet of complex carbohydrates (highfiber
grains that took a long time to digest), lean protein, and fresh fruits
and vegetables. In our current culture of processed foods, low-nutrition
junk foods, and supersized meals, a person can go for weeks without eating
a single piece of fresh produce. Because of large-scale, single-crop agribusiness,
which picks most produce before it has even ripened so that it
can be shipped to supermarkets hundreds or even thousands of miles away,
we end up eating almost no fresh, ripe fruits and vegetables. In addition,
our food is grown in soil so depleted in minerals that we get little nutritional
value from it.
It does not help that we live in a culture that fears fats and carbohydrates.
Most of the popular diet plans restrict one of these food groups.
Fear of Carbohydrates
People avoid carbohydrates because they think they are fattening. Some of
the most popular, longstanding programs on the market such as the Atkins
diet are based on the premise that you must severely restrict carbohydrates
to lose weight. This is not true. Because you need a basic amount of carbohydrates
just to keep brain function and other metabolic processes efficient,
low-carbohydrate diets can make you feel exhausted and irritable.
No one can stay on a diet for long that leaves them depleted of energy and
unable to concentrate.
A very low-carbohydrate diet (or fasting) can induce ketosis. This
condition occurs when the body is unable to completely burn fat for
energy. Ketones are by-products of the incompletely burned fat. If there is
no glucose (carbohydrates) available, then the body (including the brain)
can use ketones for energy. The World Health Organization recommends
at least 50 grams of carbohydrates daily to avoid ketosis.
In the Fat-Burning Metabolic Fitness Nutritional Plan presented in
this book, I ask readers to eat a diet that includes 40 percent low-glycemic
carbohydrates. Choosing the correct kind of carbohydrates is an important
part of losing weight, maintaining weight, and staying healthy. Sugary and
overprocessed foods such as candy, cake, and soft drinks are simple carbohydrates.
Bran muffins, brown rice, and whole-grain breads are complex
carbohydrates. Also, each fruit, vegetable, and grain has a different rate of
digestion based on the glycemic index. Carbohydrates that digest slowly
and release their energy into the bloodstream gradually result in less stored
fat than those that digest quickly, releasing their energy in amounts greater
than the body can use.
Fear of Fats
Many people are afraid of eating fats because they associate them with
instant weight gain. When my nutritionist, Molly Kimball, evaluates clients
for my health and performance enhancement program (PEP), she
often finds that people who are trying to lose weight frequently avoid fats.
They believe that everything they eat must be low-fat or fat-free. This
makes for a boring and tasteless diet. Their typical breakfast might be dry
toast or a bagel or cereal with low-fat milk. Lunch might be a sandwich
with very little meat and no mayonnaise or cheese. Dinner might be pasta,
brown rice, or a potato and with a little protein. Eating all of these carbohydrates
by themselves without a sufficient amount of lean meat (30 percent
of the total diet) and acceptable fats (30 percent of the total diet) can
trigger an insulin release, causing blood sugar to dip.
No one can avoid fats and stay healthy. Because fat is an energy source,
your body needs a certain amount to function efficiently. Most fats are commonly
found in animal foods or can be synthesized in your body from carbohydrates.
However, your body cannot make these essential fatty acids, which
are omega-6 and omega-3. A deficiency of essential fatty acids will produce
symptoms such as dry and scaly skin, dermatitis, and hair loss.
Clients are often shocked to find out how the pounds begin to drop when
they begin eating the right amount of fats. Again, the type of fats that you
eat—mono- and polyunsaturated fats versus saturated fats—is the most
important factor in weight loss, weight maintenance, and good health.
Studies have shown that a healthy nutritional program consists of 40
percent low-glycemic carbohydrates, 30 percent lean protein, and 30 percent
acceptable fats.
10 The Fat-Burning Bible
Fact #4: Controlling Your Insulin Response Is Key
for Fat Loss
The most effective way to reduce body fat and promote metabolic efficiency
is to normalize your body’s ability to manage insulin. Effectively
managing insulin is based on four factors: (1) the glycemic index of the
foods you eat (their complexity and the amount of time it takes to digest
them), (2) the efficiency of your metabolism, (3) your fat–to–lean muscle
ratio, and (4) the amount and type of physical activity and exercise you
engage in.
Since muscle tissue is metabolically active and fat just basically sits
there, the fatter you are, the less metabolically active your body will be.
There are two main scenarios in which a person develops a high
fat–to–lean muscle ratio. The first can occur at any age and is lifestyle
related—high levels of stress, poor eating habits, low levels of exercise or
no exercise. The second is a natural but reversible process called sarcopenia
that develops with age. Sarcopenia is basically the wasting of lean
muscle and the gain in body fat that results from lack of exercise, especially
resistive exercise. Whatever the reason, having an unhealthy amount
of body fat can lead to a lower metabolic rate and insulin resistance.
Insulin is the hormone involved in storing energy from the foods that
we eat. When there is an overabundance of energy-giving foods in a meal,
especially carbohydrates but to a lesser degree proteins and to a much
lesser degree fats, the body will secrete insulin in great quantities. Any
nutrients that cannot be used at that time will be stored. Insulin affects
excess proteins by promoting amino acid uptake by cells. Insulin causes
excess carbohydrates to be stored as glycogen in the liver, muscles, and
circulatory system until they are needed between meals when glucose levels
drop. All of the excess carbohydrates that cannot be stored as glycogen
are converted into fat and stored in the adipose (fatty) tissues.
The book Endocrinology and Reproduction by P. C. K. Leung and others
gives further insights into this process in the chapter where it discusses
insulin and diabetes: “When insulin is secreted into the blood, it circulates
almost entirely in an unbound form: it has a plasma half-life that averages
only about 6 minutes, so that it is mainly cleared from the circulation
within 10 to 15 minutes. . . . This rapid removal from the plasma is important
because at times it is equally as important to turn off rapidly as to turn
on the control functions of insulin.”
When a person becomes overfat, especially in the abdominal area, he
or she can become insulin resistant. Muscle cells, which make up 30 to 50

percent of the body, get out of shape and lose much of their ability to
respond effectively to insulin. This leaves a surplus of glucose floating
around in the blood—much more than the body actually needs for its
immediate energy needs. In turn, the pancreas is stimulated to release even
more insulin to do its job of transporting the glucose through the cell
Since the fat cells of an overfat individual are more receptive to insulin
than the muscle cells, this is where much of the remaining glucose eventually
gets deposited. A vicious cycle is created, causing even more fat
gain—that is, the more overfat a person becomes, the more excess carbohydrates
will be converted into fat storage.
Most people did not become overfat during the centuries of hunting and
farming, primarily because our ancestors ate more complex foods and
engaged in more physical work, which caused a more stable insulin
response and resulted in leaner, stronger, healthier bodies. These complex
foods, which take longer to digest, included whole grains, legumes, and vegetables,
all of which have a high fiber content and are low in simple sugars.
The glycemic index rates foods according to the speed at which they
are digested and converted to energy or stored. Foods with a low glycemic
index are more complex and require burning more calories to digest them.
Foods with a high glycemic index digest quickly; therefore, if they are not
burned during daily activities, they are usually stored as fat because your
body is genetically programmed to store the food energy that you cannot
use immediately. This goes back to the feast-or-famine idea discussed earlier.
Since our ancestors could not always get regular meals, their bodies
developed the ability to slow their metabolism and store all excess foods as
fat for the lean times.
Fact #5: You Must Be Physically Active to Have an
Efficient Metabolism
Metabolic efficiency is directly related to the amount of activity you
engage in each day. This includes everything from planned exercise to
walking through your local mall to playing with your kids to taking your
spouse out dancing or your family for a walk in the local park. If you aren’t
physically active, you will begin to gain weight. It’s that simple.
According to a recent report by the surgeon general, a shocking 60
percent of Americans do not engage in enough activity to keep them even
minimally healthy, and 25 percent get no exercise at all. Many people

think that metabolism slows as you get older. It is not your metabolic
processes that are slowing down, however; it is your lifestyle and level
of activity.
When most baby boomers think back to how they looked in their
childhood, they probably remember a skinny boy or girl who was always
outside running around or playing sports. When they got older and took on
adult responsibilities, they may have sat behind a desk for eight hours a
day. As time passed, children were born, family responsibilities increased,
and they got older, they probably spent more time working and less time
being physically active, resulting in gradual yearly weight gain. With the
advent of television and home computers, even leisure time took on a
sedentary nature, with the average adult watching four hours of TV daily.
The commercials for junk food, sugary treats, soft drinks, chips, and
highly processed foods also encourage poor eating habits. When was the
last time you saw a TV ad for fresh fruits and vegetables?
A certain amount of inactivity is directly related to the fact that more
than 50 percent of all Americans are now living in urban environments
where being active outdoors is not necessarily a part of daily life. If you
live in a condo or an apartment, you probably don’t mow the lawn or do
yard work; nor are your kids easily able to step outside and play or take a
dip in the pool.
To create metabolic efficiency, you need to engage in at least twenty to
thirty minutes of exercise at least three times per week. How you should
exercise is related to your gender. Studies have shown that women tend to
metabolize more fat at low to moderate intensities of exercise and men at
moderate to high intensities. Also, as individuals get older, the ratio
between aerobic and resistance exercise should change. The older a person
gets, the more he or she will need to conserve bone mass and lean muscle,
both of which decrease with age. The average cardiovascular and resistance
exercise percentages for a person in good health with normal weight
should be as follows:
Age Cardio (%) Resistance (%)
Under 40 70 30
40–49 40 60
50–59 50 50
60–69 40 60
70 and older 30 70

In this book I show you how to maximize the fat loss and metabolic benefits
you derive from exercise.
Fact #6: Your Metabolism Loves Consistency
The one thing that your metabolic processes love the most is consistency.
If you spend one month never exercising, one week overexercising, and
another month exercising only occasionally, your body will not be able to
get the full benefit of a consistent activity level and the benefits of a metabolism
that is more efficient at fat burning. When you are constantly alternating
overeating with undereating, your blood sugar and insulin response
are yo-yoing up and down as your body desperately tries to figure out
whether there is a feast or a famine. Eating three healthy meals per day
plus two or three snacks will create maximum metabolic efficiency.
Fat-Burning Metabolic Fitness Questionnaire
This simple questionnaire should help you to understand how metabolically
fit you are. If you answer no to all of the questions, you most likely
have an efficient metabolism. If you answer yes to three questions, your
metabolism is probably only moderately efficient and you would benefit
from changing your eating and exercise patterns. If you check off more
than three yes answers, your metabolism has probably slowed to the point
where you are overfat. Besides changing your eating and exercise patterns,
you should consider having a resting metabolic test performed by your
physician, especially if you also checked off a significant number of items
in the Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism questionnaire in chapter 6.
Fat-Burning Metabolic Fitness Questionnaire
Yes No
1. Do you go for more than 3H–4 hours
without eating?
2. Do you have an excessive buildup of abdominal fat
(35 inches for a woman and 40 inches for a man)?
3. Have you noticed an increase in your waist
circumference without a significant change
in your weight?
4. Do you feel tired much of the time, especially
midmorning and midafternoon?
14 The Fat-Burning Bible
5. Do you exercise regularly but still find that you are
gaining fat weight?
6. Do you feel cold throughout the year?
7. If you are a woman, do you have excessive facial hair?
8. Do you gain weight easily?
Total # of Yes’s____ Total # of No’s____
It’s never too late to increase your level of metabolic fitness. Since
lean muscle tissue is metabolically more active than fat, which basically
just sits there, the key is to reduce fat and increase lean muscle. Regardless
of your score on the Fat-Burning Metabolic Fitness Questionnaire, the
metabolic prescription presented in this book will help you to bring your
metabolism up to maximum efficiency.

For more information, download this book The Fat-Burning Bible

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