How to Know if You’re Fat-Adapted?
How do you feel if you skip a meal? Cranky, weak, lethargic, full-on ‘hangry?’
Perhaps your typical day is a roller-coaster ride of peaks and troughs as your energy levels rise and wane; relative to when you last ate. Worse still: as soon as you’ve finished one meal or snack, you’re already counting down to the next one.
Sound familiar? If so then you are most likely one of a majority of people who can be classified as a ‘Sugar-Burner’. In other words: dependent upon glucose from carbohydrates as a primary energy source.
Surely all this is normal? Well, from an evolutionary perspective, not really.
Feast or Famine:
In a modern context, we will rarely find ourselves in a situation where we can’t access some kind of food.
Not so for our earlier ancestors who would gorge themselves in times of plenty; storing excess calories as fat to be used later when winter arrived, or hunting was less bountiful.
Their metabolism was geared towards using whatever fuel was available for energy. They could digest fruit and berries when in season, and certainly wouldn’t trim the fat from their meat.
Our ancestors had the metabolic flexibility to handle periods of fluctuation in their food supply. They could burn carbs, and they could just as easily switch in order to access their fat-stores. Of-course, all this happened naturally.
By contrast, modern society typically revolves around the steady drip-feeding of highly processed, carb-laden fare. We never experience hunger in the true sense, and as a result have largely incapacitated our bodies’ ability to run on fat.
Choose Your Fuel:
Understand, we all have a natural capacity to burn fat for energy. In fact, do so to some extent throughout the day.
It’s just that the ratio tends to be dramatically skewed in favour of burning sugar/glucose. Worse still, so many carbs are eaten throughout the day, so regularly, that the body is too busy trying to deal with them (cue elevated insulin levels) that it doesn’t get a chance to access its fat-stores.
All this cycle of eating does is train the body to be very efficient at storing excess calories as fat.
But what if you could flip that switch, and opt to run more efficiently? What if you gave your body back it’s ability to run on fat; able to effortlessly switch between burning glucose to fuel high-intensity effort, and fat for less physically demanding activity.
The great news is that you can!
What would this mean for you?
- No more energy crashes in-between meals
- An ability to skip a meal and still function at max-capacity
- Constant energy levels throughout the day
- Increased mental alertness
- An ability to burn through your fat stores at will.
I’m pretty sure that last one will have grabbed your attention, for sure.
Rethink How You View ‘Energy’:
Firstly, how much energy do you think you need?
Regardless of how active you are in your job, or how hard you train at the gym, there is a limit to how much ‘energy’ you can either use or store.
The body breaks carbohydrates down into glucose, with the ability to store a limited amount in the muscles and liver as glycogen. The average person may only be able to store around 400 grams at any one time.
In this context it’s easy to see how these stores can easily get filled, with the body needing to somehow deal with an excess. If you’re not burning off at least as much as you’re ingesting, it’s got to go somewhere, right?
Now let me ask you this:
How much energy would you have available if your body was more effective at using fat for fuel?
Even a very lean individual at around 160lbs and 12% bodyfat is still likely to be carrying around 19.2 pounds of bodyfat around with them.
Can you imagine what you’d feel like if you could utilise that amount of stored energy?
Well, you CAN! Providing you upregulate your body’s ability to access it.
Flipping That Switch:
When your body is working optimally, it can switch very effectively between using glycogen for high-intensity bursts and fuelling less demanding activities via its fat stores.
Thinking only about carbs as an energy source, locks you in a paradigm that sabotages metabolic flexibility.
- You were never again a slave to uncontrollable cravings
- Able to go long periods between meals with no loss of energy
- You never needed late-night snacks to kill hunger before bedtime
- Your strength and stamina were unaffected even if forced to skip a meal
- Your mood wasn’t directly linked to the last time you ate; hangry anyone?
That my friends, is the reality when you are fat-adapted. And it’s so very simple to achieve:
Just eat less carbohydrates! Boom, that’s it!
Now the reality is that this is going to feel like a big step to many, and as much of a psychological shift as a metabolic one.
Therefore, I always suggest a gradual reduction in carb consumption. Slowly dialling back the intake will allow the body to gradually adjust; making the transition practically effortless.
As for numbers: this can vary, depending upon a person’s starting point and the intensity and frequency of the activity they perform.
Typically, the majority of people will notice a significant shift in metabolic flexibility once they get down to around 150 grams of carbs a day. Beyond this point it’ll be a matter of fine-tuning; reliable indicators being energy, strength levels, hunger and cravings.
And before you ask: we’re not even getting into a keto-range yet!
How Will You Know When You’re Fat-Adapted?:
Beyond having an effortless relationship with food where you are comfortable answering hunger with a meal. You will enjoy:
- Boundless energy
- Strength on tap whenever you need it
- No stress associated with food
- Direct control over your fat-levels
- Greater flexibility over your eating patterns
- The ability to drop fat and build muscle
- During exercise, fat stores are increasingly relied upon for energy, with glycogen stores saved for when the intensity is ramped-up
- Less systemic stress
- Hormonal balance.
Given a choice: wouldn’t you choose to be a fat-burning beast?