Metabolism is the process of turning food into energy within the human body. A slow metabolism means that food is converted slowly and can therefore often result in food being stored as fat rather than being used as a source of energy. A fast metabolism on the other hand is more rare and results in food being turned into energy very quickly and therefore a difficulty in gaining weight.
Although each person has a different metabolic rate, there are two key ways in which metabolism can be changed – diet and exercise. Exercise burns more calories (the measure of energy in the body) resulting in an increased metabolism whereas a change in diet can also improve metabolism.
A metabolic diet like this one is targeted at increasing metabolism in order to prevent fat storage and even burn stored fat for energy. This is normally achieved by reducing the intake of high energy foods or foods that contain high levels of carbohydrates. The diets are therefore also often referred to as low carb diets and can also be high protein diets.
It works on the principle that the less energy the body consumes, the more it will tap into fat reserves in order to provide the necessary fuel for the body to function. This process is called ketosis where the body sources it’s energy from fatty acids or ketones in the blood rather than food sources.
It is important to note that the body can convert other food sources (like protein and nutrients) into energy. However they do not provide the same amount or type of energy. A low or no carb diet can there for result in a process of catolysis where the body starts feeding on the muscles or even organs for fuel. This is dangerous and can result in malnutrition as well as starvation.
Another type of metabolic diet is fasting. Fasting basically means refraining from eating any food whatsoever. Fasting for continous or extended periods of time is not recommended as this will also result in catolysis. However, intermittent fasting diets are very effective at achieving weight loss and increasing metabolism rather quickly.
Intermittent fasting consists of eating for a period of time during the day and then fasting for a period. The ideal ratio is to have an eating window of between 8-10 hours and then fast for 14-16 hours. It takes between 6 and 8 hours for the body to metabolize food and then start burning fat. The 14-16 hour fasting period is when this occurs. Normally, 3 low calorie or low carbohydrate meals are recommended within the eating window to acheive the quickest results.
It should also be noted that with both the low carb/high protein diets and intermittent fasting, it can take 2-3 days before the diet actually starts working. This is how long it can take for the body to eat through it’s glycogen stores before it starts burning fat.
It is not recommended to stay on either type of metabolic diet for an extended period of time but rather to resume eating healthy, balanced meals once metabolism has improved.