Improving Metabolic Efficiency

It makes me very happy the more I see coaches and sport dietitians blogging and discussing the concept of Metabolic Efficiency. I have had so many people tell me that I am on the cutting edge of something with this concept but that many people do not believe that Metabolic Efficiency is really valid. That's really okay with me because I enjoy swimming upstream and challenging conventional science and application of nutrition with athletes. In fact, it was about 7 years ago now when many people told me the same thing when I developed the concept of Nutrition Periodization. Many did not understand what it was and how it could help an athlete achieve their goals. As we all know, Nutrition Periodization is now the centerpiece for any sport dietitian or performance nutritionists work with athletes and it has even started being presented in undergraduate sports nutrition textbooks.

Am I a bit different? Of course! Do I enjoy it? You bet! Thus, the concept of Metabolic Efficiency, still in its infancy, is getting more and more press and gaining more discussion among health professionals. Why? BECAUSE IT WORKS. Enough said.

Now to the real point of this blog: improving metabolic efficiency. There is not a day that passes when an athlete approaches me desperate to change their metabolic efficiency. And one such athlete recently had me interpret a metabolic efficiency test that he had done and let's just say that his results were not pretty. Thus, I wanted to share with you all a few things as it relates to this particular situation.

This athlete is a marathoner, and a pretty good one. A 7:00-8:00 pace is comfortable but his metabolic efficiency was suboptimal, in fact, he did not have a metabolic efficiency point (MEP), even at a ridiculously slow pace of a 12:45 minute/mile.

So, he approached me and asked what could be done about this. The GI distress monster bit him often and he wasn't about to "run" at a 12:45 minute/mile in training. That did not support his performance goals.

Lesson #1 in improving metabolic efficiency: change daily nutrition habits.

Honestly, so many people out their believe that just training at lower intensities will develop their body's ability to burn fat more because that is what data (old) has shown. I firmly believe that training is only about 25-30% of the puzzle. How can I be so bold in this statement? Because I have case studies (they are not university research studies) where I have manipulated the nutrition of an athlete but kept their training as stable as possible and guess what? They improve their metabolic efficiency.

So, the point of this week's Fuel4mance blog is simply this: to have a bigger impact on teaching your body to burn more fat, pay more attention to your daily nutrition plan. Eat a good source of lean protein and fruits and vegetables and be careful with the whole grains depending on what training cycle you are in. Don't worry about your training program as much for the first 4 weeks of your metabolic efficiency journey.

Remember, changing nutrition is much more difficult than changing your training because there is more behavior modification involved. Be patient and take small steps to improving your nutrient balance to control your blood sugar and insulin levels and you will be on the road to metabolic efficiency in no time!

For more information about this topic, visit www.fuel4mance.com and refer to my Metabolic Efficiency Training article under the "newsletter/articles" tab or look into purchasing my Metabolic Efficiency Training: Teaching the Body to Burn More Fat book available at www.fuel4mance.com, www.kompetitiveedge.com, www.trisports.com or on Kindle.

Here's to a great start of 2011!

Coach Bob