The big fat deal: the life-changing power of metabolic flexibility
Metabolic flexibility is a bit of a buzzword in health and wellness circles. With reason. It’s one of those key concepts that can change your life. It changed mine, freeing me from cravings and that “I need to eat now!” imperative that distracted me from things I wanted to do. It also allowed me to indulged a long-standing love of fat, a fabulous ingredient key to enjoying what you eat.
3 steps to get started
Eliminate sugar. It's inflammatory. It's addictive. It has no long-term positive effects. It is responsible for metabolic imbalances that cause diabetes, obesity, and even some of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Be forewarned: to eliminate sugar, you need to read the labels on everything you buy. You can replace it with stevia or xylitol, neither of which cause an insulin spike. Agave syrup is sugar. A little honey is ok.
Replace those calories with fat. Not just any fat—choose healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, almonds, coconut oil, butter, organic meat, wild salmon. Avoid processed and heated oils at all costs. And don’t eat them with carbs.
Eat fewer carbohydrates in general, and eat them at dinner.
Above all, listen to your body. Test. Feel the difference.
French cooking is what brought me to France. At the time, I trained as a French chef in Paris and started catering and offering my services as a private chef. During that whole chapter of my life, I explored the depths of flavors and the fleeting experiences gourmet cuisine offers. I was especially fond of fat as an ingredient, the ideal vector for flavor and texture. However, I didn’t use it in a way that was useful for my body.
As a result, I gained a lot of weight. When that pissed me off enough, I changed my approach to eating overnight, opting for:
A varied, seasonal diet
Mad of high-quality foods (as few toxins as possible)
As close as possible to their original form (unprocessed)
With lots of vegetables — almost everyone agrees with this one
Of many different colors
I never worried about calories, knowing that the same number of calories of broccoli would not have the same effect as calories coming from sugar.
Thanks to this simple approach, I never felt deprived of eating pleasure, and I regained my ideal weight—the one that never changed again, except when I was pregnant.
Later, as I got older, I removed gluten to decrease joint inflammation, and then reduced dairy to nothing but occasional raw milk cheese and sheep's goat's milk yogurt for the same reasons.
These adjustments gave me a glimpse of the power food has over our general well-being. Without ever forgetting that pleasure is key to eating well, I wanted to shift from "living to eat" to "eating to live" (thank you, Molière).
The hack: 2 fuels
The real change came when I realized that the body has two different fuel sources at its disposal: fat and sugar. It sounds basic, but I needed Dave Asprey and his Bulletproof approach to understand the full power of this simple reality.
When you reduce sugar and carbohydrate intake, you deprive the body of a source of energy, and the liver turns fatty acids into ketone bodies that allow the body to use that fat as a source of energy.
This system that has many advantages. First, you have no insulin spikes. Second, the ketone bodies decrease the amounts of a hormone called ghrelin, which is the one that makes you feel hunger. Moreover, they also increase cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone related to the feeling of satiety.
The goal is not to live without carbohydrates (not possible). It's about regaining metabolic flexibility—the ability to use both fuel sources efficiently. Because when you do, you are free from the dictatorship of carbohydrates, which make you hungry all the time.