MITOCHONDRIAL MAKEOVER: DIET ADJUSTMENTS
FAT BURNING FOR OPTIMAL ENERGY PRODUCTION
What diet adjustments should we make to ramp up our fat-burning metabolism?
STEP 1: DECREASE PROCESSED CARBOHYDRATE CONSUMPTION:
If we consume too many refined carbohydrates and sugar, we can’t become efficient fat burners. In contrast, if we keep the refined carbohydrate and sugar intake down we become more efficient fat burners, produce more cell energy (ATP), feel much better, and lose body fat. Remember, when we are on a high-carbohydrate diet our mitochondria are perpetually burning glucose instead of burning fat for energy. This locks us into the incessant sugar-burning mode. When our mitochondria are constantly burning sugar, not only are we simultaneously storing fat, but our mitochondria are producing higher amounts of oxidants that damage mitochondria and lead to mitochondrial dysfunction throughout our bodies. High carbohydrate diets increase levels of oxidation and inflammation contributing to cell damage and rapid aging. So nix the bread, pasta, cookies, cake, candy, etc. and focus on non-starchy vegetables and small amounts of fruit as your ideal carbohydrate sources.
STEP 2: ADD HEALTHY FATS TO YOUR DIET
As you dial down on your carbs, progressively add beneficial fats into your diet. Think of it as replacing the processed carbohydrates you are avoiding with healthy fats. Healthy fats such as avocados, macadamia nuts, walnuts, olives, grass-fed butter, coconut products such as coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut cream. Fish oil, MCT oil, olive oil as well as the fats present in healthy protein choices such as wild Alaskan salmon, free-range poultry, eggs, and grass-fed beef, are other examples. This combination of low carbohydrate/high-fat diet not only leads to mitochondrial biogenesis, amplified fat-burning and enhanced ATP production, but since fat is a cleaner-burning fuel our levels of oxidation and inflammation go way down which helps slowdown the aging process.
STEP 3: CONSUME MODERATE AMOUNTS OF PROTEIN
Our nutritional tweaks are leading us toward a low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet (LCHF), because it promotes mitochondrial biogenesis. Less carbs, more youth!
Since a main goal required to promote fat-burning is balanced blood glucose levels, we need to be reminded that excessive protein consumption can actually lead to higher blood glucose levels, since protein can be converted into glucose. When we eat fatty foods, as discussed above, we feel satiated and tend not to overeat protein since appetite is controlled. We will talk more about protein consumption moving forward, but for now just aim for typical serving sizes of meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, and fish and let your appetite be your guide. Like grandma told you, eat when hungry and stop when full.
With LCHF eating you will become an efficient fat-burner and notice gradual elimination of cravings and much less hunger. As you adjust to this way of eating, plan several meals and fat-based snacks as needed per day to avoid hunger, cravings and temptation.
Use hunger as your guide and eat when hungry and don’t worry about eating if not hungry. Our cells have access to a multitude of stored energy in our body fat just waiting to be burned.