Rich Kahle
ISSA Certified Personal Trainer

Hack Your Metabolism

The Science Behind Lumen

What is Metabolism?

Metabolism is life. It’s the process by which your body converts the food you consume into energy for immediate use, or to be stored to be used later.

Key Focuses of Metabolism:

  • Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) - The amount of energy the body uses to sustain itself and its basic functions. Everybody has a different RMR because each person’s physiological needs are different.
  • Respiratory Quotient (RQ) - This represents the type of fuel the body is using to sustain itself.
  • RQ is the ratio of CO2 production to Oxygen consumption. The body’s RQ range is from .67 (Fat Burn) to 1.3 (Carb Burn). Any number above 1 represents the body converting carbohydrates into fat, which is a process known as lipogenesis. This is one of the reasons that people gain fat.
  • Lumen measures RQ through the device, yet instead of representing it in the range above, we’ve translated it to a Level 1 to Level 5.

What are our Primary Fuel Sources?

  1. Protein - Necessary to build and repair muscle cells, though it is not a preferred fuel source.
  2. Fats - Another preferred fuel source, they provide our body with long and sustainable energy. The amount of fat we can store is significantly larger than our carb stores. Additionally, the process of converting fat to energy is harder for our body to perform than it is for our body to convert carbs to energy. Our bodies will turn to fats when carb stores are low or depleted.
  3. Carbohydrates - Our bodies preferred fuel source, as they are the easiest for our bodies to convert to instant energy. They are required for our body’s fight or flight response, and are needed for any intense workout efforts.

Why not just eat carbs?

  • Carbs are broken down into sugar (glucose) and are either immediately converted into energy if the demand exists, or are stored to be used later.Excess carbs get stored as glycogen in the liver, or as fatty acids with the help of insulin.
  • Our bodies have a capacity for approximately 400g of glycogen in our muscles and liver. After we reach our limit, we begin converting carbs into fat.

TAKEAWAY - If we eat carbs when our carb stores are already full, we will convert these excess carbs into fat.

Factors That Influence our Body’s Fuel Preference

So what happens when we eat carbs?

For someone who is more metabolically flexible, the carbs we eat will be used for immediate energy. The extra carbs that are not used immediately will be stored as glycogen. If carb stores are full (> Approx. 400g stored), the excess will be stored as fat.

TAKEAWAY: Carb balance, or how many carbs we eat, is the key factor in which fuel source our body will use.

TAKEAWAY: If you are in a carb depleted state for too long (low carb diet for a long period of time), our body loses its ability to use carbs as fuel for immediate energy. Without this ability, carbs that you eat will be converted to fat, as that has become the body’s preferred fuel source.

TAKEAWAY: If Carb stores are always full (creating a state of constant carb burn for fuel), the body will continue to convert new carbs into fat, and never learn to effectively use fat as fuel.

Metabolic Flexibility

This term describes how well our metabolism is functioning. It is the main factor behind health, weight loss, energy, and longevity.

Simply put, Metabolic Flexibility is our body’s ability to switch back and forth between fat (lipids) and carbs (glucose) as fuel.

It also represents how well an individual uses stored energy (such as fat) as fuel when in a caloric deficit.

The Physiology Behind Metabolic Flexibility

The body produces energy in the form of ATP through organelles known as mitochondria.

People with good metabolic flexibility have:

  • Higher functioning mitochondrial density, which allows them to burn more fat for energy.
  • Higher insulin sensitivity, which helps partition carbs into muscle glycogen rather than storing them as fat.

People with poor metabolic flexibility have:

  • Fewer and dysfunctional mitochondria.
  • A difficult time switching between fuel sources (Stuck in carb burn longer, even when they stick to the plan)

The continuous over-exposure to carbs will lead to insulin resistance.

Benefits of Higher Metabolic Flexibility

  • Improved insulin sensitivity - Lower risk of developing obesity and diabetes
  • They use energy intake for immediate energy and anabolic processes (building muscle). This leaves much less to be stored as glycogen, and limits the potential for excess carbs to be stored as fat.
  • Greater ability to lose weight (burn fat) when combined with a caloric deficit.
  • Less cravings and feelings of hunger, which lead to less snacking.
  • Ability to skip meals without a drop in blood sugar, and can eat carbs without a significant spike in blood sugar.
  • Better workout performance
  • Less of a need to manage calories and macronutrients
  • More energy, better mood, and better health!

So How Do We Improve Our Clients Metabolic Flexibility?

  • Macronutrient Manipulation--By changing carb and fat intake, the body learns to use both for fuel. During a zero carb diet, our mitochondria is forced to use fat for energy, and we become more flexible towards fats as a result.
  • Workouts--By training with low muscle glycogen, we force an individuals mitochondria to use more fats as fuel. This low carb training method improves mitochondrial health and function.
  • Time Restricted Eating (Intermittent Fasting)--By extending fasting time, we force the individual to burn through their available glucose and glycogen stores. Their body will then shift to burn fat, and also activate their mitochondria.

What does Lumen Actually Measure?

Lumen measures the amount of CO2 present in a user’s exhale. Cells using carbs as fuel produce more CO2 than cells using fat as fuel.

By using our specific breathing technique, we allow the CO2 in the blood to move to the air in our lungs, and we measure the result in the exhale.

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