Are You In Metabolic Limbo?

Metabolic Limbo: Why Your Diet Isn’t Working and You are Eating Less and Gaining Weight as Your Energy Goes Down the Drain.

I define limbo as being stuck in the grey area of two distinct worlds. In this case I am referring to the metabolic mess of being caught up in the physiologic space between fat burning and sugar burning.

Believe it or not your body needs no dietary carbs or sugar to survive. Here is the catch, you do need some carb metabolism to survive. Yes, you read that right. You do need glucose (carb) metabolism for health and healing but you do not need to eat any carbs to get what you need.

Before I go into that, let me give my two cents on calories. They are a terrible measure for food intake. The calorie concept in biological energy expenditure for metabolism, weight loss or gain, is completely inaccurate and even the inaccuracy of that model changes throughout the day, day in and day out. That being said, I will use calories as a reference for food intake when studies have used them in their research, but please understand the limitations of the caloric model and don’t take it as a hard and fast rule.

Here’s how it works: when your body is an efficient, effective, fat burner, your metabolism will will become more efficient and appear to lower it’s caloric needs and be able to handle higher caloric intakes much easier. Making calories almost irrelevant. Interesting huh?

So, as a true fat burner your metabolic rate will stabilize at around 1,800 calories per day. About 320-360 of those calories will come from glucose (carbs). This is how it breaks down:

35-40 g of glucose from recycled lactate and pyruvate (exercise)
20 g from glycerol (breakdown of triglycerides)
15-20 g from protein derived amino acids (mainly alanine from exercise)
10-11 g from ketone bodies (formed from fat burning)
(Annu. Rev. Nutr. 2006 Cahill Jr, G. F)

Basically, even with a 100% dietary fat diet, or as seen through different fasting protocols, 20% of your caloric use of energy for running your body will still come from glucose, or AKA, carbs.

Now, if you eat carbs, like sugar, grains and starches, then that glucose becomes priority one for use. Why? Glucose can be toxic if it floats around for too long. Sugars in your system from dietary sources can bind to damaged proteins and produce Advanced Glycation End products, (AGEs), the literal molecules that age us.

When we consume processed carbs our body will take up that sugar, even at the risk of advanced aging and the free radical damage that is seen with burning glucose, to get it out of your system. When this happens insulin stops fat metabolism and rushes ANY extra glucose into our body fat for storage. The glucose that would have been liberated from burning your body fat stays where it is, and so does that extra fat.

As I outlined here is doesn’t take a lot of processed carbs to satisfy the body’s needs and then shut down fat burning and start storing fat thanks to the only direct fat storing hormone we have, insulin. Even with normal blood sugar levels, by eating poor quality (processed) foods and eating every couple hours (healthy or not) you will keep your insulin exposure high causing insulin resistance and accelerated aging.

If during this time you are lowering your food intake, but not improving the quality or decreasing your meal frequency you will lock your body right into metabolic limbo where you are not burning fat, not burning carbs efficiently, and continuing to store fat, lower your energy and raising your blood sugar.

Now in that state you try and do all the right things, eat small frequent meals, graze, and start to exercise to burn fat which at this point will essentially drive your suffering metabolism deeper and deeper into that limbo. Over time your sleep, mood, sex drive, and motivation all start to falter. Your other hormones get thrown off due to the insulin resistance and now the cortisol from all the stress you are feeling and the cascade of chronic health problems like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, and dementia all keep progressing.

Look, I am not saying here that you should stop eating carbs. 360 calories is a good amount of green veggies. I am just illustrating how the body can run just fine with little to no dietary carbs and if you want to heal your damaged metabolism you will have to do what is necessary to not only stop being a chronic sugar burner but to get yourself out of limbo and become an efficient fat burner. When you effectively do this, become a flexible consistent fat burner then things will change, and change dramatically.

It doesn’t end there. Once you are a true adaptive fat burner then the need for advanced efforts to heal the damage done to your liver, pancreas, viscera and other organs to truly reverse this disease promoting physiology will arise. More on this later.

What can be done NOW?

  1. Balance Nervous System Tone (paced breathing, chiropractic, meditation)
  2. Reduce Hormonal Resistance (cut sugar, up fat, natural foods)
  3. Promote Cellular Healing (quality fat, supplements, detox)
  4. Enhance Physical Fitness (physical activity, exercise, intensity training)
  5. Sleep (prioritize sleep and create an evening routine drink lots of water)

Now before you ask me what detox to do, remember step one to an effective detox is to stop RE-toxing! Then when things are moving in your favor and progressing stop eating so frequently. Yes, I am referring to fasting. There are many types of fasting and multiple fasting methods can be used together and in rotation for ease of implementation, avoiding hunger, and optimal health impact. Let’s save that for future articles.

Remember my friends, doing nothing will get you just that, nothing! Start with something, anything, make a plan, get an accountability partner, give it some effort and give it some TIME.

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Be well my friends,

Dr. Don

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