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Are you a fat burner or a fat storer?

For years we have been taught that weight is a question of calories in vs. calories out. But if it were so simple, then why do so many women (and men) suddenly start gaining weight around the midsection in their late 30s despite seemingly eating less and exercising?

The answer lies in the complex hormonal and biochemical pathways involved in our body’s energy management system, i.e. your metabolism. A healthy, functioning metabolism can efficiently use both glucose and fat as a fuel system and can switch between the two flexibly. Many people, however, can no longer do this switch effectively. Some even suffer from a nasty twist of double jeopardy: they no longer efficiently burn glucose, and on top of that, have permanently turned on their fat storage mechanism.

Food is information

It makes sense that 100kcal of Coke does not have the same effect on the body as 100kcal of fresh berries. That is because the food we eat is biochemical information for our cells.

Our cells receive input from the foods we eat. Whether it's from healthy anti-oxidant phytochemicals, minerals, fibre-filled carbohydrates, or from toxic additives, or artificial sweeteners. This determines a different chain of hormonal responses in our body. Even different types of foods eaten at different times of the day and in different combinations can lead to unique hormonal responses in the body.

It is these hormones – in particular insulin – that determine what happens to food once broken down by the digestive system, as well as how effectively and how efficiently they are processed, regardless of calorie content.

These hormones signal to our cells whether we need to go into fat storage mode or whether things are running sufficiently smoothly that energy can be burned at will.

The link to fat-burning vs. fat-storing

Simply put, when our cells are clogged or assaulted by too many and too high blood sugar swings, they go into fat storage mode. They cannot keep up with the processing of the incoming energy so they move some of it “out” - into fat. In another cruel twist of nature, fat – especially fat stored around the midsection – produces its own fat-storing hormones and so the downward spiral begins.

How do I know if I am a fat burner or storer?

Today we can measure our cells' ability to metabolize glucose effectively and efficiently via an insulin resistance blood test or, by using the latest technology, a continuous glucose monitor that is worn for a short period of time. Everyone’s metabolism is individual and affected differently by our gut microbes, health history and more. A continuous glucose monitor is the most accurate and most efficient way to learn about your personal metabolic health and how you can improve it.

Read on for 5 simple things you can do today to help turn your body into a fat burner:

1) Fill ½ your plate with vegetables, the more colourful the better. They are packed with polyphenols and fibre, essential tools to keep your metabolism running efficiently.

2) Eat your veggies first, then the protein and fat, and THEN the carbs. Needless to say that not all carbs are created equal so try to choose whole food, “slow” carbs: complex starches such as found in legumes or whole grains vs. refined carbohydrates.

3) Make sleep your priority! The single biggest impact on your metabolic health is your sleep, both hours and quality, so pack in those zzzs!

4) Add fibre whenever you can: sprinkle on the flaxseeds to your breakfast, add white beans to your soup, try a lentil bolognese (or, if that’s too radical for you, make it half/half, you will be surprised how much you ll like the texture!). The possibilities are endless!

5) No liquid sugar: no fruit juices, no liquid “pseudo healthy” syrups such as agave, coconut or brown rice: your liver will thank you and so will your waistline!

If you’re interested to decode YOUR metabolic health, please contact us at to set up a personal consultation with our nutrition specialist.


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