One energy crisis that is not being given sufficient attention but one we have control over is our own metabolic energy crisis.
How do you know if you have a problem with your metabolism and what exactly is a metabolic energy crisis – read on to find out.
A metabolic energy crisis is where you cannot produce energy (ATP) from food and your own stored sources of carbohydrates, fat or protein. We should all be able to use these different fuel types to provide energy to different extents. The ease with which we can switch between the three is known as metabolic flexibility.
Metabolic flexibility is important for all of us and a sign of a healthy metabolism. As an aside it is even more useful for endurance athletes and women approaching menopause (due to decline of oestrogen and accompanying decline in insulin sensitivity and thus ability to uptake glucose as efficiently). It is also crucial to reduce your risk of modern chronic health conditions such as type-2-diabetes.
How do you know if you have a metabolic energy crisis or basically a problem using carbs, fats or protein for energy?
- Inability to lose weight – you’ve tried everything and nothing works.
- FATIGUE – beyond that early evening post a busy day when you should be winding down for bed. Fatigue that lasts throughout much of the day on a regular basis.
- A foggy head or poor/declining cognitive function.
- You may have already got a diagnosis such as Type II Diabetes – this is an inability to process carbohydrates/glucose properly.
- Increased thirst, frequent urine infections, skin tags, blurred vision, headaches which are all signs of insulin resistance (a pre-cursor to T2D)
- Not being able to go long without eating without feeling dizzy/ill/weak.
- Feeling sleepy after eating.
- Poor skin (there are many reasons for this but frequently some form of metabolic dysfunction is usually involved).
- Unexplained or unexpected muscle weakness/soreness/DOMS or joint pain be it after exercise or just generally.
Why should you care?
- If you are metabolically flexible losing or gaining weight as you eat less or more should be easy! NOTE – losing weight is NOT just about eating less but it can be a factor.
- If you have a family history of Alzheimers , there is growing evidence of the link with metabolic dysfunction and an increased risk of Alzheimers and dementia (1) with some studies showing up to a 30 % increase in risk of dementia (2).
- A greater risk of cancer (breast 28-60%, colon 25-30%, prostate 10-30%) (3)(4). It has been shown in studies that a significantly increased risk of breast cancer arises in individuals with elevated fasting blood sugar (8)
- A 2-3x increase in risk of cardiovascular disease (5)
- Metabolic function is closely tied with immune function (so think ability to recover from/avoid colds/winter flu/covid along with other viral or bacterial infections). Winter is approaching – there is more you can do than get a flu jab to protect yourself!
- Metabolic dysfunction such as prolonged elevated blood glucose and lipids drives inflammation and oxidative stress and are major contributors to and conditions such as Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (6).
- Disruption in the gut microbiome leading to not only gut-issues directly such as bloating and bloating and reflux but also mental health issues (7).
However, the thing is there is so much you can do about it if you are prepared to take control of your own health/life and make some (possibly initially hard but very doable) changes. Often testing is required as it is not one solution for everyone and what has given rise to the dysfunction in one person is not necessarily the same for another.
- Fasted blood sugar panels to include at least HBA1C and insulin.
- A full lipid panel to include fasted triglycerides along with more in depth panels to assess lipid particles such as Alipoprotein A1 and B, more accurate markers for risk of CVD than standard LDL and HDL.
- Liver markers such as AST, ALT, GGT, ALP and direct and indirect bilirubin.
- Other markers such as uric acid, a full thyroid panel that includes T3.
- A full iron panel.
- Other nutrient status – such as vitamin D, RBC magnesium, B vitamins esp serum folate and active B12 (sometimes to be tested in urine too along with B6), zinc and glutathione status. Nutrients are needed as co-factors to enzymes to drive metabolic pathways.
What can you do if you have an issue with metabolic dysfunction or suspect you have ?
- Firstly decide if you are ready to take action and invest in your health. Using food and lifestyle to return to good health is not a quick fix and takes time and commitment. However, investing in your health now for the future will pay dividends, likely immeasruably more than the cash in the bank!
- Get some comprehensive blood tests run to understand actually what is going on inside your body so diet and lifestyle recommendations can be tailored for you. Your GP may be a good starting point but ideally you will want something much more comprehensive.
- Take a look at your diet – sometimes some simple changes are all that is needed eg removing processed foods, removing or significantly reducing alcohol, increasing above-ground vegetables, increasing ‘healthy’ fats such as those from oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, ensuring adequate high-quality protein (animal sourced should be as high quality as you can afford). However, it can be hard to do this on your own sometimes which is where it can be good to work with someone to support you and provide accountability.
- Assess movement/exercise – too much and too little can be detrimental to metabolic health. There is an inverted U shaped curve to many benefits of exercise.
- Look at your lifestyle. Stress is a huge driver of metabolic dysfunction via the impact of the hormone cortisol as is inappropriate fasting. It is not all just about what you eat. It’s also about what you dont eat. Working with Katherine here can help you assess these factors on your body through the use of devices such as Firstbeat HRV monitor which she uses now with many of her package clients.
Final words. Take action. It is always best to be preventative than just waiting and hoping for the best or until you finally get a diagnosis. The environment around us nowadays makes it hard, messages are confusing but there is a lot you can do if you decide to either go it alone or invest in your health and have someone support you. The rewards can be immense.
If you would like to know more about how Katherine and her team could help you please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.