Archive | metabolic flexibility

Met Flex Tip 4: “Shape Shifting Nutrition”

Lisa Cartwright

We recently introduced Private Forums to go along with our webinars we do four times a week.  Both of which give you the opportunity to walk through your changes using the info you get when you buy Met Flex for Fat Loss.

I may be dating myself here, but one of the coolest movie bad guys was the shape-shifting cyborg sent back in time to kill John Connor in Terminator 2.   He was so scary due to his ability to change and take on almost any form, and he almost beat Arnold!

This concept can be applied to your body too, but with a slight tweak for more fat loss and performance.

When we eat food, our body breaks it down into fuel.  The main fuels are  carbs and fats (protein is generally not used directly for fuel).

We can measure this in the lab with fancy equipment called a metabolic cart that will tell us what “fuel mixture” your body is using at that time via the respiratory exchange ratio (RER).

Both fuels are needed for optimal body composition and performance.   When you are doing high intensity exercise, carbs are the best fuel.    The rest of the day you want to be a fat burning machine, thus your overall RER is low (pushed towards using fats).

Metabolic flexibility is the process of turning your body into a fuel shape-shifter.   Carbs can be used or stored as glycogen for later use during exercise, while fat (both dietary fat and body fat) can be burned at a higher rate the rest of the time.   This way you get the performance you want in the gym, but the body composition you want at the beach.

Mike T Nelson

8 reasons why your low carb trump card is no longer working

Ace Of Spades


This is some of the information you get when you buy Met Flex for Fat Loss.  I made this post and subsequent video as a response to Science Lab members explaining how you can use a mostly fed approach to get your best fat loss gains over time.  (Sorry the volume is so high)

1.  The value of a low carbohydrate diet is basically that it pulls water/inflammation from your cells, and if you eat at a caloric deficit related to your energy output you CAN lose fat in the process.

2.   The value of a high carbohydrate diet (at a caloric deficit) is that you maintain hydration levels within your body.  The downside is that countering excess inflammation from a high carb diet requires you to drop your calories.  In the end, people with high activity levels won’t have adequate energy.

3.  Whichever approach you take is not going to favorable as it relates to energy levels, so you are always compromising something else (in this case, performance) to reach a body fat percentage (or weight) goal.

4.  When you diet down to get an extreme result, you are basically using up your “diet” trump card.  You have two options at this point:  you can attempt to maintain your current body fat percentage by upping your level of activity (possibly ending up hurt and sick), or you lower your calories further which will be equally harmful.  Most people do some combination of the two.

5.  If you eat adequate calories for a prolonged period of time it is favorable as it relates to muscle maintenance and muscle retention.  This is the basis for what we teach at Eat To Perform.

6.  If you are coming from a low carbohydrate or low calorie way of eating you will often gain weight as your muscles re-hydrate and become more functional.  This doesn’t typically correlate with an increase in body fat, but the your jeans might fit a bit tighter.  A full muscle is a bigger muscle!

7.  Losing fat the right way requires you to throw out your misconceptions related to what you think you should weigh.   Body fat tests (BOD POD, DXA) can help but often just signal people to make bad decisions trying to aim for a goal when they should aim for performance.  A gradual approach to body recomposition through increased performance (form following function) is your best bet.

8.  Here’s a strategy that CAN work: go for a period of time (let’s use three months as an example) with a goal of maintaining or slightly increasing you weight.  A slight increase looks like 5 pounds or so.  10 pounds is probably too aggressive.  After this period, your work capacity will have increased.  Your muscles will be full, and you have now earned the right to eat less for a short period of time.  Every person is different, but after you’ve taken the time to rehydrate your muscles and get your metabolic function in order, you can start to under eat in short bursts.  For every month from that point forward you can take one week to get a little aggressive with calories and carbs to speed up the process of dropping body fat.

Getting Leaner with Metabolic Flexibility: A Tip from Mike T Nelson


Mike T Nelson is the author of Metabolic Flexibility for High Intensity Athletes.  When you buy our “manual”, you get to attend seminars and join the support group where there is a ton of helpful information.  Buy Met Flex for Fat Loss and get the Support Group and Seminars free.

Note from Paul:  I wanted to talk a bit about this tip because it could be (and often is) misinterpreted.  Certainly, Mike isn’t saying you shouldn’t eat fibrous carbs throughout the day.  So there is that.  The carbs you want “around your workouts” are starchy carbs like sweet potatoes, rice or Vitargo.  Lastly, this doesn’t need to be the time you load ALL of your carbs; I like to have some carbs before bed as well.  When you add up the starchy carbs, incidental carbs from other foods, and dessert before bed, that provides a great balance that sets you up well for your workouts.

While it seems hard to believe, a vast majority of your calories are spent just running your body.  The geeky term is “resting metabolic rate” (RMR).  RMR is the amount of calories it takes to fuel your body while you lay there and do nothing but breathe.

Since your RMR contributes the largest portion of your daily “caloric drain” it makes sense to fuel most of it with your own body fat!

Note – If you are interested in an estimate of how many calories you need, make sure to check out Paul’s TDEE calculator.

The downside is that if you chose to use ONLY fat, your ability to perform high intensity exercise would suck.  Not good.

Therefore, you still want to be able to up-shift and use carbs to fuel your exercise sessions.

As soon as you are done, shift back to using fat again.

Metabolic flexibility (Met Flex) is all about shifting from one fuel source to the next and back.


  • The simplest way to describe Met Flex is that it’s a strategy built around shifting your RMR to burn mostly body fat as well as dietary fat.  You still allow your body to up-shift to a carbohydrate metabolism for performance.
  • Improved performance translates into more muscle; more muscle translates into an increased RMR, and an increased RMR means less body fat.  Boom!  You get the best of both worlds without all the hassle.

Metabolic Flexibility for High Intensity Athletes


This is the only document that is written specifically for the sports most of us do.  These chapters are basically bonus chapters to the foundation materials that Science Lab members get monthly (Mike T Nelson will be updating these monthly).  Foundations is a neatly packaged version of the blog posts we do on this site and then we organize them based on your athletic profile so you can read the material that is most specific to your situation.  Both of the options below get you access to the foundations materials, unlimited access to the Science Lab seminars where you can ask questions and the Science Lab private group with materials that will help you on your new performance journey (you can ask both Mike and I questions).

To get the bonus chapters you will need to order the $49.95 year long subscription option

We now have a second option where you can cancel at any time.  Four recurring payments of $19.95 (so $79.80 total) and we will allow you to upgrade to the $49.95 year long subscription if you find you like all of the services listed below within 14 days.  This gets you the exact same services as the year long subscription with the option of basically just buying the book for $19.95 and then canceling if you are mostly interested in the Metabolic Flexibility and you want to figure it out on your own.

Click here for the $19.95 offer (with four recurring monthly payments) with the option to cancel at any point

Metabolic Flexibilty was written by Mike T Nelson, for more info on why he should be your go to guy for metabolism and optimizing your high intensity workouts check out his bio info below.


Elisabeth Akinwale (Crossfit Games Competitor and Science Lab member)

Elisabeth Akinwale“I have been a Science Lab member from the beginning of the private group.  Paul Nobles and I have had various conversations related to nutrition and supplements but what he and his team does is really help you develop your own plan.  I like that a lot.  As someone that came to Eat To Perform with a working knowledge of how my body works it’s helped to add a few things and see how other athletes perform better fueled and what specific foods work best.”

Jeremiah Drobney (Crossfit Level 1 Coach and former Tight End for the University of Kentucky)


Jeremiah Drobney“When I left the University of Kentucky I spent five years (I red shirted my first year) making my body stronger and fighting through various injuries, my body just needed a break.  It was a few years before I realized it was time to make athleticism a priority again.  When I started Crossfit it wasn’t to be a games competitor it was just to get back in shape.  At some point though the competitive fires started burning, I was doing Paleo and Zone but something clicked that if I really wanted to take this to the next level that would involve a smarter approach to food.  Learning how to “Eat To Perform” really made a difference for me, I gained 15 pounds of muscle in 6 months.  I don’t know what the future holds for me competitively with Crossfit but I know I am a better human being stronger and with more muscle.”

Our Team

Mike Nelson wrote the Metabolic Flexibility chapters for High Intensity Athletes, which is an approach to eating specific to our sport that you get with a year long Science Lab subscription. Julia Ladewski is one of the most respected people in our powerlifting and her approach to nutrition and performance is the reason she is the host of our women’s classes. Janelle Deeds has experience working with individuals related to complicated health issues and has an impressive list of accolades. All of them work in the Science Lab to varying degrees and it’s a privilege to be able to work amongst them. For info on how to join the Science Lab and what you get, click here.

Mike NelsonMike T. Nelson MSME, CSCS, has spent more than a decade of his life learning how the human body works, specifically focusing on how to properly condition it to burn fat and become stronger, more flexible, and healthier.

He’s a PhD Candidate in Exercise Physiology at the University of Minnesota. He holds a BA in Natural Science, and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (Biomechanics).

He’s an adjunct professor and a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, International Society of Sports Nutrition, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and others.

He’s been called in to share his techniques with top government military agencies, physicians, and top nutrition /health corporations.

The techniques he’s developed, and the results Mike gets for his clients have been featured in international magazines, in scientific publications, and on websites across the globe.

Speaking with Mike Nelson for just a few minutes can shave years off of your efforts, and help you get results that most people just dream about…
Julia Ladewski, CSCS, is currently the director of Parisi Speed School in northwest Indiana working with youth and adults. Previously, she spent 8 years as a Division I strength coach at the University at Buffalo.
As an sponsored athlete and Q&A staff member, Julia is an Elite level powerlifter once holding the #1 spot in the 132 pound class. After having two kids, she is back on the platform making her way to the top in the 123’s. Her best lifts to date are 462 squat, 255 bench and 424 deadlift.


JanelleJanelle Deeds, Nutrition Consultant/Trainer
Janelle emphasizes the value of whole food eating with a realistic application of functional nutrition programs. Optimizing the relationships between body systems and organs and that which support health, fitness and quality of life. Offering a practical approach to nutrition from current health status to optimal capacity using diet, supplement and lifestyle choices as tools to rebalance, revitalize and restore your body’s personal potential.

Natural Health, BSc, Clayton College, emph Nutrition
Nutrition Consultant, Bauman College

Post degree courses:
Nutritional Blood Analysis,
Earth Sciences & Western Herbalism,
Clinical Microscopy & Blood Cell Analysis in Biological Medicine,
Functional Endocrinology,
Autoimmune & Leaky Gut &
Neuroendocrine Immunology

CrossFit L1

Screw the switch, let’s torch some body fat

Fire (1)

This was one of the best articles we did on Metabolic Flexibility for Fat Loss which is the method we teach in the Science Lab (for info on how to receive our chapters specific to High Intensity Athletes, click here for info).

I am going to try and keep this one short because it is essentially an update to the Metabolic Switch article.  I was asked this question “what if I have to lose some weight for a competition?”.  With the open coming up (actually this probably isn’t a good article for the open because it is coming too fast), regionals and then the Crossfit Games for the lucky few amongst us, is there a way to flip the switch a little bit harder in time for a competition? That answer is almost certainly yes and possibly without changing much at all with some smart timing.  First let me say that if you drop a lot of weight too soon that leads to an energy deficit and a performance drop.  Also it is not favorable as it relates to building muscle, muscle tone and adding strength.

The case for carb cycling both intraday (same day) and alternating days around workouts

Secondly you have to remember that these are all strategies but as strategies go it’s going to be hard to find a more flexible plan.  Same day is simple, eat your carbs around your workouts and then fats, proteins and fibrous carbs the rest of the time, potentially saving some carbs before bed.  Total volume should be highish because you don’t won’t to compromise all of the work you did in the gym.

Is it possible to flip the switch harder?

I’m glad you asked because that answer is yes for a person with a high functioning metabolism.  If you don’t have one yet, try both ways and see what feels most right.  If I were to take this approach I would drop 3-5 pounds in a week.  It wouldn’t all be fat but a lot of it would be.  The reason I don’t is because a healthy fat layer is favorable as it relates to my goals as an already lean individual.

High fat days

I need you to hear me when I tell you this.  If you added up the calories for both days and your high fat days were lower than your carb days that’s fine but if they are greatly lower that’s just you getting cute.  That isn’t what I am suggesting.  So on these days we eat 85/15 grass fed ground beef and avocados for energy dense foods that keep our calories high (yes I am talking to you ladies, don’t think this is just for the dudes).  The carb days aren’t low fat but they wouldn’t be as high.

One of the concepts in the book that is often confusing I will make brain dead simple for you guys.  If you are WOD’ing you have the option to carb up the night before but you always fuel around your workouts.  I realize all of the GLUT4 talk related to the anabolic window confuses this issue because it seems to put the emphasis on post workout.  I like pre-workout carbs to fuel workouts and if you are going into a rest day the post workout carbs are OPTIONAL depending on your goals.  If the following day is a rest day you won’t need as many carbs, since you don’t need carbs for that day you want to be able to switch to fat burning since fats are preferentially burned at rest.  What about back to back WOD days, so let’s say you have a rest day then 2 WOD days back to back followed by another rest day.  I am going to just do a one week example.  This is how that looks (this is a 2 on 1 off then a 3 on 1 off example because a week is 7 days long):

Sunday (rest day) you are potentially having carbs in the evening.  The goal isn’t low carb, more like saving reasonable carbs for the evening using most of the day for fat burning (because insulin is low).

Monday (WOD day) we are having carbs both pre-workout and post-workout on this day because we are back to back fueling to perform.

Tuesday (WOD day) this is the high fat day, by high fat day I simply mean similar energy intake to the rest day with a reliance on fats for your energy dense sources (potentially a relatively aggressive calorie deficit, I will use 500 calories as an example).  Just remember if you go too aggressive on the calorie deficit it could affect your workouts for a few days.  You will keep carbs high around your workouts but other than that mostly fats, proteins and fibrous veggies.

Wednesday (rest day) lowish carb saving most of your carbs for the evening.  The goal for this day is low but not uncomfortable.

Thursday (WOD day) carbs around your WOD’s definitely post pre and post.

Friday (WOD day) same as Thursday.

Saturday (WOD day) carbs pre-workout for sure but post workout is optional maybe saving some carbs for a nice glass of wine or two in the evening.

Oh yeah, on high fat days lean meats can bite it.

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