On Fast Versus Flexible Metabolism – Ep. 165

In this episode of Next Level Human Podcast, you will learn all about the differences between fast and flexible metabolism. While it’s more beneficial for you to have a flexible metabolism when it comes to body recomposition, you might influence a specific type A or type B metabolism by following specific tips. The best way to follow along with what your body is prone to do is to know what works for you.

Dr. Jade talks about several factors such as exercise, diet, cardio, mood, stress levels, and energy that can – and will – influence how your metabolism operates. Some actions like having a diet filled with nutritious macronutrients (especially protein), having an optimized strength training program (rather than doing cardio every day), and managing stress levels (paying attention to sleep quality, for example) are examples to turn your metabolism into a flexible and strong one. Tune in! 

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Podcast Intro: [00:14] welcome to the Next Level Human Podcast. As a human, you have a job to do. In fact, you have four jobs; to earn and manage money, to attain and maintain health and fitness, to build and sustain personal relationships, to find meaning and make a difference. None of these jobs are taught in school and that is what this podcast is designed to do. To educate us all on living our most fulfilled lives through the mastery of these four jobs. I'm your host, Dr. Jade Teta and I believe we are here living this life for three reasons and three reasons only; to learn, to teach and to love. In this podcast, I will be learning, teaching, and loving right along with you. I'm grateful to have your company; here is to our next level.

Episode Intro: [01:18] All right, welcome to the show everyone. Today's topic is going to be on the fast versus flexible metabolism. Many of you who listen to this podcast has heard me say over and over again, you don't want a fast metabolism, you want a flexible metabolism but the truth is, it would be nice to have both. But the flexible metabolism is more important. And I want to share a little bit about this in a quick little podcast today. This one will be fairly quick. But it's a really important one. And I'm doing it because it's come up a lot as of late when you look at marketing around metabolism, even when my company's you know, market metabolism. One of the things that we do is we go out in the world and we kind of see what the language that people use to talk about metabolism and metabolism is still dominated by this fast versus slow mindset. People who think they have trouble losing weight, oftentimes describe it as I have a slow metabolism and they'll describe people who are relatively easily Lean is having a fast metabolism. The truth of the matter is though, this is really not the best way to think about metabolism, you really want to be thinking about having a metabolism that is flexible. And when we talk about a flexible metabolism, what we are essentially talking about is the ability for the metabolism to handle stress and strain challenges and to adapt quickly to different macronutrient ratios to fasting etc. Think about it. If your metabolism is just running fast one of the things that you will find is that whenever we try to speed up metabolism, and there are many things that do speed up metabolism, for example, thyroid hormone replacement speeds up metabolism, hormone replacement therapies like testosterone replacement therapy, or progesterone or estrogen replacement therapy, these things speed up metabolism. If you put go into a cold plunge and expose yourself too cold that will speed up metabolism, exercise speeds up metabolism. These things all speed up metabolic rate. They also have not a great track record in the research in terms of helping people lose weight. And this is oftentimes shocking, not to those of you who are regular listeners of this podcast or students of metabolism or have read my book next level metabolism, you'll understand these dynamics. But the vast majority of people do not realize that speeding up metabolism almost always leads to also speeding up hunger and cravings, amplifying hunger and cravings. This is the reason why and I oftentimes for those of you who are new, discuss a paper on postmenopausal women, the alpha and beta trials really big study that looked at exposing women around the perimenopause to menopause or age range, these are going to be women in the ages of 40 to 60 years old, and basically told them, don't change your diet, do nothing consciously to change your diet. But we're going to give you one group basically essentially did five days per week of 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise essentially jogging on a treadmill, another group did 45 minutes, five days per week, and another group did 60 minutes, five days per week. Now many people have heard of this study, I mentioned it over and over and over again, because it illustrates the research that we do know that essentially says exercise is not good at helping weight loss. And I'll get to that in just a minute. But in this trial, what they found is that only about 25% of those women lost weight and actually about 10% lost more weight than would be predicted. So there are people who lose weight with exercise, about 10% of them did lose even more weight than would have been predicted. So they did very well with this cardiovascular regime. 25% did well, they lost weight but you know, didn't necessarily lose as much as they thought. So what is that? That's basically 15% lost weight not as much as predicted 10% lost weight more than predicted. But where does that leave the other 75%? Well, 50% lost no weight at all. 50% of those women lost no weight at all after doing 30 45 or 60 minutes of jogging on a treadmill five days per week without consciously changing their diet. And the shocking part about these studies looked at the fact that 26% roughly 25% ended up gaining weight as a result of that exercise and we say why that's impossible if they didn't consciously change their diet. Well, they didn't consciously change their diet. They unconsciously changed their diet. In other words, in those 75% of women who did not get results who are or who actually gained weight. They ended up gaining weight as a result of eating more as compensation to that exercise in other words and 75%. Those women trying to speed up metabolism through exercise caused him to speed up hunger and cravings enough to completely wipe out the calorie deficit created through exercise or, and 25% actually overcompensate and eat more as a result of that exercise. And they actually ended up gaining weight. This is why research shows us time and time and time again, that exercise does not do a very good job at helping people lose weight. But diet is the dominant thing that helps people lose weight. What exercise does is help diet make sure that you're burning more fat than muscle your lose, you lose less lean body tissue, when you use exercise, along with dieting, especially, and most importantly, resistance training. Now, if you understand that line of thought, and the research around exercise and how it is not great at helping people lose weight and can actually insusceptible people make them actually gain weight, then you also understand why research shows conclusively that cold exposure, getting in cold tubs exposed sleeping and cold. All of that kind of stuff does ramp up fat burning, it also has never been shown to be a weight loss aid. Why? Because like exercise, which ramps up fat burning and speeds up metabolism. Cold exposure also makes you hungrier and the same goes for fat burning pills to speed up metabolism. The same goes for hormone replacement therapies, testosterone therapy, thyroid, this is the rule of metabolism. We know this without a doubt. And so speeding up metabolism is not really what you want.

[06:50] now, if you could speed up metabolism, without the compensatory changes in hunger, energy and cravings, then perhaps that would be beneficial. And so what we really want is we want a flexible, adaptable metabolism a metabolism that does not have increased hunger, energy and cravings in response to adaptations, stresses, like exercise, cold exposure, fat burners, hormone replacement, therapy, et cetera. So you don't want a fast metabolism, you would rather have a flexible metabolism. But it would be great to have both, wouldn't it? And so what does it mean to have a flexible metabolism? Well, what that means is it means that you are no longer looking at metabolism as simply a calorie counting mechanism, but rather an adaptive reactive stress thermostat. The metabolism is best described in my mind as a stress barometer, and a stress thermostat. In other words, what the metabolism is doing at its basic nature is sensing and responding to stress. What people don't understand is that yes, eating too much and exercising or moving too little is a stress. But so is the other extreme, eating too little. And exercising too much or moving too much can also be a stress. And so what we want to get a flexible metabolism. This is not genetic, when we talk about, you know, metabolism, we don't necessarily mean you know, when we say fast and slow, a lot of people say well, she's just genetically got a fast metabolism, he's genetically got a fast metabolism. And sure, there's going to be some genetic component here with the flexible, flexible component of metabolism. But it is very easy to do things in your lifestyle to give you a more flexible metabolism. Now a couple episodes ago, we talked about the idea of building muscle in this multitasking aspect of trying to build muscle while burning fat or burning fat while building muscle trying to do both at the same time. This discussion on fast versus flexible metabolism goes back to that discussion, to basically say that we can use certain things to make the metabolism more flexible. So how do you how do you make exercise not cause compensations in stress? Well, if you think about stress, the way the body handles stress, we know that stress that is short lived is better than stress that is very long, right? So if you're going to do something stressful, you want it to be shorter, the body does really well with extreme stress only if it is short in nature. Right? It will have less compensatory stress reactions. If the stress that you're subjecting the body to is short and extreme. It also does really well with very low intensity, longer duration stuff like walking. So when you're thinking about exercise, you want to probably be thinking about short intense workouts or long At low intensity movement, this is why walking and resistance training and high intensity interval training and shorter duration workouts might be better than doing this traditional way of thinking about things where we go out and run for 60 to 90 minutes on a jog. Now, again, certain amount of people 25% do well on that 10% do really well on that, but the rest of us 75% do not. And so what we want to be thinking about is we want to be thinking about making our metabolism more flexible through choosing the right types of exercise. So rule number one with exercise, then if you know you're someone who compensates like this, and ends up over eating in response to exercise is to do shorter, more intense exercise. Also to realize that resistance training is probably going to be better than cardio. Because of the mechanisms by which it works, it helps to increase liver, insulin sensitivity, as well as muscle insulin sensitivity. And this is slightly different than cardio based on several lines of research, something happens with the muscle molecules that are released with resistance training. One recent study actually shows that when you do intense resistance training, you release, basically these little messenger RNA molecule vesicles, from the muscle that go to the liver that tell the liver to process sugar better. This is different than cardiovascular exercise. And maybe one of the reasons why we can see with resistance training, you get this sort of insulin resistance benefit in the liver and the muscle, whereas cardio, you may not. Also with resistance training, you're releasing more human growth hormone and testosterone along with cortisol. Whereas with cardio, you're probably releasing a little bit more cortisol and less human growth hormone and testosterone in most cases. Likewise, there is some research that hands resistance training has less of an effect on hunger and cravings compared to cardio. So this tells us that we can make a general rule of trying. Of course, we're all different of going to short, intense resistance training based workouts to make exercise a less stressful thing on the metabolism. So there's less compensation and to give the metabolism more flexibility.

[12:16] Now when it comes to diet protein serves the same role. So you can see the theme we talked about several episodes ago, comes back here again, why does protein help the metabolism be more flexible, because protein is a flex fuel plus it is an infrastructure building block in the body. So the body basically can use protein to make glucose it can use protein to make ketones and it uses protein preferentially to repair the body and make collagen and make tendons ligaments, make muscle tissue, build all the cofactors and enzymes needed for biochemistry machinery that goes on every single day. And so once again, now we can essentially say okay, if we want a flexible metabolism, what exactly does that mean? If we're doing resistance training, and getting plenty of protein, and we're making the metabolism more flexible through this, and also doing tons and tons of walking, which also makes the metabolism more flexible. Why? Because again, it's sensitizes the body to insulin, it lowers cortisol, and it has less of an impact on hunger and cravings. And so ultimately, we know that we don't have a flexible metabolism when we are always hungry, always craving always compensating anytime we try to speed up metabolism. If we do these things move to short duration, high intensity resistance training, lots and lots of walking, making sure we're getting our protein on board, preferably especially if you're trying to build muscle or maintain muscle while burning fat. One gram perhaps as much as one gram per pound of body weight is what would be required here. Then when we speed up metabolism, we also will have more flexible elements in place so that we do not compensate by wiping out what we just did. Think about a workout that burns 500 calories, that then causes you to over consume 800 calories or to eat 800 calories is not a great idea. What you want to be doing is you want to be doing workouts that don't cause you to overeat, that don't cause you to lose motivation that don't cause you to have cravings. This is what we mean by a flexible metabolism. Now, if you have a flexible metabolism, then speeding up metabolism can make some sense. So hopefully this is making some really good clues for you or giving you some really good clues as to how to approach this.

[14:42] now some other things that you can begin to do one of the things is cold exposure in and of itself. Think about the same rules because cold exposure rightly so is becoming very, very popular. It should be actually because it has many benefits besides just weight loss, right. And that's the other thing you want to be thinking about here. Things like cold exposure, things like taking thyroid hormone. If you're low in thyroid, things like exercising, this does not mean that they don't have health benefits. It's just that if you also want them to lead to weight loss, you need to be thinking about doing things in a way that are more flexible. So cold exposure, that is, again, shorter lived and not super intense is going to be better than chronic cold exposure. So for example, let's look at some studies. If you're going to do chronic cold exposure, then you probably want it to be gentle cold, over long periods of time. For example, one study in men in a small group of small group of men basically had them go into a sleep clinic had them sleep at 66 degrees Fahrenheit, relatively cold, most people would probably not want to sleep in that environment, but not so cold. In fact, some people may voluntarily want to sleep in colder weather than that. And they were essentially given a sheet and scrubs, and they slept in 66 degree weather. And basically, they looked at these people over several weeks, I'm not remembering exactly how long this was. And they showed that their insulin sensitivity improved just through this sleep, exposure to cold sleeping in colder weather, and their sleep, many factors of their sleep. In other studies that we have actually been shown that sleeping and cold leads to deeper sleep. So this is something that can happen you and I did these people lose weight? No, they did not. But it had health benefits. And they certainly didn't gain weight. And so think about that kind of cold exposure, which is, you know, sort of the equivalent to long slow cardio like walking, sleeping in cold but not so cold that you're shivering. Now, on the other end of the of the extreme, spending three to five minutes max in a in a cold tub that is in the you know, somewhere between freezing and the low 50s is going to be pretty extreme for most people, and is not going to be able to be done for long and then you want to look and see how did these things impact me. So obviously doing one or two or three extreme cold exposures per week rather than every day, and sleeping in cold and exposing yourself to cold at night, maybe gentler ways. Now how would you know if that's making your metabolism more flexible or not? This is what's really easy about if you're trying to push too much fast metabolism versus flexible. If you are flexible in your metabolism, your sleep, your hunger, your mood, your energy, your cravings will stay in check, especially hunger and cravings, hunger, energy and cravings. So that acronym HEC; hunger, energy and cravings HEC will stay in check in a flexible metabolism. As soon as the metabolism starts to have too much hunger, too much cravings unpredictable energy, it means it's becoming less flexible. And by the way, chronic stress that's what it does. It makes the metabolism more rigid and less flexible. This is how you want to be thinking about this with all the things you do so that fat burner you're taking. You can go is it working? Well you can tell is it throwing HEC out of check the thyroid hormone you're taking is it working? Is it throwing HEC out of check or keeping it in check? The testosterone replacement therapy you're taking is it throwing hunger, energy and cravings out of check or keeping it in check the progesterone or estrogen or any other supplement you're taking or any other thing you are doing to the metabolism? Is it causing hunger, energy and cravings to stay in check or go out to check. If it's causing them to stay in check, then that is a flexible metabolism. And it's fine to try to speed up a flexible metabolism. However, if it is not, and you then you have a more rigid metabolism, it is not fine to try to speed up a rigid metabolism, you will actually end up overcompensating and having issues and by the way, there's three ways the metabolism typically compensates when it's not flexible enough or not able to handle stress. Number one, it's going to have increases in hunger, energy and cravings. So HEC goes out of check. Number two metabolic rate will fall in something called adaptive thermogenesis. We don't know all the elements of that but one of them is certainly thyroid function and leptin and some other hormones that down regulate the metabolic thermostat. And then finally constrained other constrained aspects of metabolism like immune function, androgen function, non exercise associated thermogenesis are activities of daily living, all these things become downregulated with body budgeting, so that it does not give up its fuel reserves. Now, a flexible metabolism won't compensate like that as much. So this is why you want to be thinking about flexibility, not just speed. Never try to speed up a metabolism that is rigid. Only try to speed up a metabolism that is flexible, and if you had to choose between the two speed versus flexibility should come first speed second this way exercise will start working for you. Cold exposure will start working for you, sauna will start working for you, supplements to speed up metabolism will start working for you better, hormone replacement therapies will start working for you better. So you want to be thinking of a flexible metabolism not a fast metabolism. And if you're going to try to speed up metabolism always try to get sleep hunger, mood, energy and cravings, especially hunger, energy and cravings in check first, get your HEC in check so that you have a flexible strong metabolism and then begin doing the things like cutting calories, exercising cold exposure, fat burners, hormone replacement therapy, et cetera. This is important to understand, and it's something that's come up very simple concept, very short discussion today, but this is what you want to be thinking about. Alright everybody thanks so much and I will see you at the next podcast.




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