This interview was originally posted on KatieCouric.com
Katie Couric: We hear a lot about “metabolism” and its effect on our weight, but can you tell us exactly what it is and why it’s so important for our health and our body weight?
Angelo Poli: The metabolism’s role is largely misunderstood. A fast metabolism isn’t a reward for healthy eating any more than a slow metabolism is a punishment for having dessert.
Think of your metabolism as a mediator trying to strike a compromise between how much you eat and how much your weight fluctuates. Humans can’t survive in a state of perpetual weight change, so the metabolism’s job is to find a compromise.
When you eat more, it speeds up to slow the pace of weight gain. Also, (and more notoriously) when you eat less, it slows down to prevent too much weight loss. That’s why understanding, and tracking your metabolic response is the key to strategic weight management. It’s also why more radical weight loss methods are very hard to sustain.
Katie: I think a lot of us tend to think that we’re either blessed with a “good” metabolism and are able to maintain a desired body weight or we’re cursed with a bad one…but what’s the reality of the situation?
Angelo: The reality is our genetics have an influence on our metabolism, but not the final word. The strongest predictor of how someone will respond on a diet is their current eating habits. The predicted diet curve for a person used to eating a high-fat or high-sugar diet is different from someone already accustomed to eating low calorie foods.
Advancements in Metabolic Profiling and the use of benchmark (control) meal plans expose each person’s threshold for weight change. Since people of similar size can have surprisingly different thresholds, testing and tracking is critical.
Yes, your body type and genetics all factor in, but if you’re already dieting and feel stuck – it’s not hopeless! Understanding your metabolism and how to change the way it responds can make a huge difference in your outcome.
Katie: That’s great to hear! It seems like every day there’s a new trend surrounding losing weight – intermittent fasting, the keto diet, etc. Generally speaking, what are your thoughts on these trends and are they effective?
Angelo: I’ve seen every diet work, but I’ve never seen a single diet work all the time. Every diet has some merit – fasting reduces calorie intake, Keto nudges your body to burn fat in the absence of carbs.
The problem is the corresponding impact on your metabolism. And not just for today – some diets can impact your body for years. That’s why it seems like the same diet never works the same way the second time around. The diet didn’t change, your metabolism did.
The problem we’re trying to solve at MetPro is; what diet strategy is right for you at this point in time? There’s calorie control, carb control, macronutrient ratios, glycemic load, meal timing, and meal frequency. All of these factors influence your outcome, but when explored in a vacuum (or without testing and tracking) the only thing you’re likely to learn is that the diet your neighbor tried didn’t work for you.
Katie: Tell us about “metabolic profiling” and how you’re able to track a person’s individual metabolism…
Angelo: At MetPro we use benchmark testing and tracking to determine how someone’s metabolism is responding and what their “next steps” should be. Not only do we compare your results with each adjustment to your diet, we also compare those results against averages taken from thousands of others with similar body type and goals. This data lets us determine both the timing and the degree of change we need to make to your meal plan.
Katie: You generally categorize two types of people…“strategic” and “metabolic.” What are the tendencies of each?
Angelo: After getting to know someone we’re able to determine if they fall into the “strategic” or “metabolic” category. Both of these categories could describe you at any point, but knowing where you’re starting helps us narrow the focus.
Strategic clients are individuals who generally respond well while in a routine – but struggle when life gets busy. Our coaches focus on clarity, simplicity, and day-to-day execution with these clients. You may have substantial work or family demands that require effective and “fast” preparation to pull off real change successfully.
Metabolic clients are individuals who eat healthy most of the time, and already make exercise a part of their life – yet they’re not seeing the results they would like. Day-to-day execution isn’t lacking, but their metabolism simply isn’t responding. In these cases our coaches focus on specific steps to speed the metabolism. Further food restriction is rarely the answer in these cases. Instead, careful consideration is given to metabolic recovery so that their body is once again in a place where fat loss can occur.
Katie: Why do you say that if people can do “one thing” it would be to prepare a healthy afternoon snack?
Angelo: We’re big on disruptive behaviors here at MetPro. I’ll often ask my clients to prepare an afternoon snack while making breakfast. It’s a simple task that few turn down. Yet this one task checks multiple boxes:
- People who pack an afternoon snack rarely miss breakfast. It cements a morning routine of quick preparation.
- The meal that people usually overeat at is dinner. Most people go 3-5 hours between breakfast and lunch, but it’s not unusual to hear people going 6-8 hours between lunch and dinner. No wonder we’re starving when we get there!
- If you cook breakfast and prepare an afternoon snack, I can build on that. Ninety percent of the hard work is done once you’re in this routine.
Try this pro-tip: Pack an afternoon snack that includes fruit (carbs), and then keep your lunch lower in carbs. It’s a simple way to control the kind of carbs you consume if you find yourself taking a lot of lunches socially.
Katie: What are your top three tips for us all to start better understanding our individual metabolisms and get on track to becoming healthier?
Angelo: Sure, my top three would be:
1.) Remember that your metabolism isn’t the same as anyone else’s. It’s not the same as it was one-year ago. And its primary job isn’t to make you heavier or lighter, but rather it tries to keep you static despite your changing environment. Recognizing this reality will help you better understand why your body may be reacting a specific way.
2.) Track and evaluate how your body responds by looking at your outcomes, not someone else’s. The key to being objective is accurate data – so track, don’t guess. If food and activity logging doesn’t paint a clear picture consider consulting an expert to review your results.
3.) The secret to our client’s success is two pronged: First, clearly understand your personal results (track and evaluate). Second, manage your time. If you only have enough time to do “one” thing, make sure it’s the right thing.
If your goal is weight loss, having a routine is critical. If your diet is random, your results will be too. The hierarchy we use for our weight loss clients is individualized but usually follows this order:
- Food prep breakfasts and snacks
- Schedule exercise
- Focus on macro-based dinners
- Food prep lunches
Katie: Got it! Thanks so much, Angelo!