We’ve discussed in a previous post the difference between getting your energy from sugar and getting it from fat. So know it’s time to look at how to get to that fat adapted state.
The first step in becoming fat adapted is to, like anything yoou want to succeed in, create a plan. It’s quite likely that both your diet and your fitness routine will need to be changed. And change is difficult without a plan. There are resources to help you. For example, if you decide that the Zone Diet and CrossFit fit your interests and goals, then those two have a solid structure to help you plan. However, you can also create a plan on your own.
Your plan should include:
- How you’re going to shift from a diet that is likely high in starchy carbs and sugar to a diet that is balanced with a good amount of healthy fat.
- How often you’re going to exercise and what exercises you’re going to do to burn fat.
If you’re creating your own plan, then consider planning and scheduling your meals as well as your fitness. Create a calendar and a structure so that your fat adapted plan is easy for you to stick to.
Once you have a plan in place, create accountability. Use a system to track your success. Announce your goals to friends and family. Or consider finding a partner, or two, to make the change with you. You will likely have bad days and days where you “mess up.” Forgive yourself and start right back up. Hold yourself accountable to your goals.
While the results will be motivation to maintain your lifestyle change, it can be difficult to stay motivated while you’re making the changes. And changing your habits can be hard. If you’re a fierce sugar burner you may experience some withdrawal as you remove it from your lifestyle. Find motivation. Reward yourself with little luxuries, or big ones. Learn what motivates you and add it to your plan. And remember that food should be delicious and exercise should be fun.
If you’re new to exercising, then it may be a good idea to start slowly. Heading out to do high intensity workouts every single day of the week may be too much. Try starting with two or three days in a row and then a rest day, or two. Aim for five workouts a week with rest days built in.
Remember that for your body to become fat adapted and to burn fat instead of sugar, you have to work out intensely, but you don’t have to work out for a long time. While it’s good to vary your workouts and occasionally get a longer workout in, consider keeping your daily intense workouts to about 20 minutes or less.
Add in Strength
If strength isn’t part of your workout plan and you’re focusing on intensity, try to squeeze in a strength training workout at least once a week.
What to expect
Fat adaptation generally requires a significant reduction in starchy carbohydrates with a complementary increase in fat consumption. Keep the 30/40/30 ratio in mind. This approach helps your body make the physiological shift to burning fat as fuel. While simultaneously changing your diet, you also need to change how you approach fitness. This means specific training at a high intensity level to push your fat burning and metabolic response.
It’s a lot of change to make at once. And it can be both challenging and overwhelming. However, the benefits are worth the effort. So let’s talk about what to expect and offer some tips to help you get through the occasional difficulties.
When you’re fat adapted, you will lose weight. You’ll burn the fat stores that you have. The adaptation is a process. So don’t expect changes overnight. This is not a fad diet, it’s a lifestyle change. You’re getting your body back to the way it was designed. We’re designed to be fat burners, not sugar burners, but chances are you’ve lived your life as a sugar burner. Give it time and be patient. With a consistent approach and commitment, you’ll transition to a fat burner and the weight will fall away.
Less Urgent Hunger and Cravings
When you train your body to burn fat, and you fuel it to support this, you will be able to skip meals without starving. You won’t have those intense cravings for sugar. You won’t be hungry every two to three hours. This is a sign that you are a sugar burner. You’ll be able to eat a meal, feel satisfied and full, and eat again several hours later without cravings, jitteriness, or feeling “hangry.”
People who are fat burners find that they have more energy through the entire day. The need for the afternoon coffee and/or nap goes away. Your body is able to turn quite comfortably to your fat stores for energy, and thus you don’t have that blood sugar plummet mid-day. You can, of course, take a nap if you want to. You just won’t have to take a nap to get through the day.
Sugar shifts your metabolism and causes all sorts of systemic issues. These issues impact your hormones, which subsequently impact your sleep. You will find as you shift to a fat adapted system that your sleep, and your health, dramatically improve. You’ll wake feeling more rested, and that energy will stay with you throughout the day.
Improved Mood and Mental Function
Like sleep, those hormones that are impacted by sugar, and a sugar burning system also affects your mental function and your mood. You’ll find that once you become fat adapted, and even as your body starts to make the shift, you have better memory, improved focus and clarity, and your moods even out. You may find that you feel as if you’ve climbed off of an emotional roller coaster and feel stable, calm, and happy.
Along with improved health comes improved skin. You skin is your body’s biggest organ, and when your health is suffering, it always shows on your skin. Your color, texture, and the tone of your skin will improve as you become fat adapted. So you’ll not only feel better, you’ll look better too.
There are so many benefits to a fat adapted lifestyle – and it’s not as hard to start as you might think once you change that mind set that fat does not make you fat.
Stay tuned for our next “fatty” post – our favourite fats to include in our diet!