How to Flip on the Metabolic Switch

CalerieHealth™ Nutritionalist

The metabolic switch is the place in the body where there is a negative energy balance. The level of glycogen (stored sugar) in the liver is drained and the switch is flipped and fatty acids move out of the tissues and into the blood stream. This occurs after around 12 hours of fasting (Anton SD et al, 2018).

More and more research is being done that shows a metabolic switch occurs when utilizing fatty acid ketones instead of glucose. This causes a SHIFT from the lipids and cholesterol in storage released to be used for energy. Fat goes through the metabolic pathway called fatty acid oxidation to produce ketones during fasting.

This process causes reduced loss of muscle mass and function (Anton SD et al, 2018). The metabolic shift may be an answer to helping overweight people with their body composition. The researchers are suggesting intermittent fasting to bring about the metabolic switch. They suggest that the ability of this type of dietary measure stimulates activating signaling pathways that heighten physiological functioning and performance and help slow down the aging and health condition process. The hope is that more researchers will investigate the Switch to bring about positive health benefits.

Intermittent fasting cycles include eating and then restricting food. It is beneficial during eating times to incorporate nutritious foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains and low fat meats. Also drinking plenty of water is important.

Flipping the metabolic switch is believed to be the reason for the amazing health benefits below.……………..

Restricting food for periods of time have demonstrated the improvements in:

  1. Cardio and metabolic factors (insulin resistance, blood lipids (fat) and inflammatory chemicals (Rothschild J et al, 2014)
  2. Visceral fat (fat around the abdominal cavity and around surrounding organs like the liver, pancreas, etc.) (Barnosky AR et al, 2014)
  3. Weight management (Varady KA, 2011)
  4. Blood lipid levels Rooth G, Carlstrom S, 1970)
  5. Joint discomfort Lawlor T, Wells DG, 1969)

This shift may be beneficial to the brain and body during periods of fasting and also  extended exercise (Puchalska P, Crawford PA, 2017; Volek JS et al, 2015). Related to weight control, the change in the pathway from fat being stored in tissues shifts to moving the fat into the blood stream for utilization as ketones.

When does the Metabolic Switch happen?

It occurs usually between 12 to 36 hours of fasting. This period of time is considered phase 3 of fasting, when the glycogen (stored sugar) in the liver cells are completely used up and are deficient. The body’s layers of fat quickly begin to cause lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) and releases fatty acids to be used as energy (Cahill GF, 2005).

In summary, the metabolic switch occurs when individuals fast for at least 12 hours. Metabolically the stored liver glycogen is depleted and the switch is flipped moving fats out from storage to the blood stream as ketones to be used for energy. There are multiple rewards in following this regimen including for the heart, weight management and blood lipids among other benefits.

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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