The best place to begin is perhaps to explain what Metabolic Efficiency Training™ is NOT. There are many misconceptions about the concept, including the following:
1. "It's a no carb diet and I have to go into nutritional ketosis." No. Actually, there are five identified dietary strategies that can be used to improve the body's metabolic efficiency. Not one of them includes nutritional ketosis. Metabolic Efficiency Training does not promote extremes and while nutritional ketosis may be useful for some, it is not the preferred long-term dietary strategy to improve the body's ability to use carbohydrate and fat at rest and throughout exercise.
2. "I will just train aerobically and burn more fat." While it is true that you can improve the body's ability to burn more fat through aerobic training, it is only about 25% of the Metabolic Efficiency Training equation. The majority of improving metabolic efficiency lies in daily nutrition changes and the ability to control and optimize blood sugar through eating proper amounts of protein, fat, and fiber, while accounting for the proper nutrition periodization to support athletes in different training cycles.
3. "It's just another diet that I will follow and then stop when I don't see results." There are so many things wrong with this statement. The first is that Metabolic Efficiency Training is not a diet. It is a combination of a well planned and executed daily nutrition and exercise plan that will change as your health and fitness changes. Secondly, adopting a metabolically efficient plan is a journey and one that should be adopted as part of a lifestyle change for improved health and fitness/athletic performance. That, in simple terms, is not a diet.
Now, for the Facts
Metabolic Efficiency Training can be defined as a systematic nutrition and exercise approach to improving the body's ability to use its internal stores of nutrients, specifically carbohydrate and fat. The average person has approximately 1,400 - 2,000 calories worth of carbohydrate stored in their body and 50,000 - 80,000 calories stored as fat. The body is a very complex system but surprisingly, it can be taught to oxidize (burn) more carbohydrate or fat in a surprisingly short amount of time. Burning more carbohydrate will allow the body to store more fat. Burning more fat will allow the body to preserve the small amount of carbohydrates it has.
Who cares? You do, or at least should. What many people do not understand is that uncontrolled blood sugar can have a significant negative impact on health. When it comes to discussing health parameters, the one that resonates the most is metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a series of five risk factors that can predispose individuals to chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and stroke. The five risk factors include: 1) a large waistline, 2) high triglycerides, 3) low HDL, 4) high blood pressure, and 5) high fasting blood glucose. Clinically, if you have three of these risk factors, you are classified to have metabolic syndrome and a higher risk of developing chronic diseases. Even though you may not present with three of the risk factors, having even one significantly increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (1), a person having metabolic syndrome is twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes as someone who does not have metabolic syndrome.
The great news is that a good portion of disease risk can be controlled by simply following a metabolically efficient way of eating to control and optimize blood sugar.
Fitness is an interesting term and there are many definitions of it. Overall, being fit is having the ability to do activities of daily living successfully and participating in various exercises to improve the cardiorespiratory system and strengthen the muscular system. It doesn't matter if you participate in athletic competitions or not, adopting the Metabolic Efficiency Training concept will improve your body from the inside out and allow you to move better.
Athletes embrace Metabolic Efficiency Training because the performance improvements can be fairly significant. It doesn't matter the type of athlete (strength, power, aesthetic, endurance), there are countless benefits when periodized and implemented correctly. Of course, the benefits will be different depending on the athlete but in general, athletes usually experience one or more of the following when they become metabolically efficient: 1) decreased body weight, 2) decreased body fat, 3) improved and sustained energy levels and mental alertness throughout the day, 4) improved recovery, 5) improved cognitive function, 6) improved power to weight ratio, 7) improved running velocity, and 8) better sleep. This is a short list as each athlete will have different interactions and improvements based on their starting point and level of progression. Remember, nutrition periodization is the cornerstone of any nutrition program and the nutrition and exercise strategies that accompany the Metabolic Efficiency Training concept are tools that are used throughout the year to help individuals improve health and athletic performance.
1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What is Metabolic Syndrome. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ms. Accessed September, 2015.