Metabolic Flexibility

6 December 2022

Metabolic Flexibility

Brain fog & midlife weight gain is so readily attributed to the menopause, but why is this? And what can we do about it? Certainly ramping up your dose HRT to higher and higher doses isn’t the solution - read on!

In our 20’s and 30’s the cells of the brain (neurons) & the energy system that drives our metabolism (mitochondria) are literally bathed in the natural ebb & flow of oestrogen (O) & progesterone (P) across the menstrual cycle. 

The flow of O+P over all these decades plays a key role in an  important process called   metabolic flexibility in the mitochondria of every cell which serves to generate the “fuel”  to fire up our metabolism.

Being metabolically flexible, rewards us with:

  • Energy to fire neurons and provide brain power
  • Energy to stimulate of  anti-inflammatory and longevity genes
  • Facilitates us to be strong, lean fat burning machines.

What is Metabolic Flexibility? Metabolic flexibility is a clever mechanism which has allowed us to efficiently store or use energy and it’s controlled by nutrients, hormones, our genes and cell signalling systems that act just like switches.

Metabolic flexibility occurs  in the powerhouse organelles of the body - the mitochondria - seamlessly switching between using glucose or fats as a needed source of fuel to make ATP, the bodies energy currency.

The energy tokens ATP is the fuel that fires up our metabolism. When the body seamlessly shifts between the fuel sources, it can easily utilize energy instead of inefficiently storing it, resulting in improved weight maintenance, increased energy levels, and decreased risk of metabolic disease.

As we enter perimenopause oestrogen levels become erratic: soaring high & plummeting low while progesterone takes an overall nose dive. The lows in oestrogen leads to an abrupt reduction in metabolic rate as oestrogen helps to regulate metabolic flexibility by controlling many of the enzymes within the fuel switching pathways in the mitochondria.

The lower oestrogen status also causes a down turn in the expression of the antioxidant/ anti inflammatory genes in the mitochondria. The two components combined act like a metabolic brake - slowing the body's ability to burn fat - hello weight gain & an inability to have the flexibility to use ketones (instead of glucose) to fire neurons - hello brain fog & forgetfulness!

There are many other contributing factors that enable us to be metabolically flexible and improve the health of our mitochondria - all of which a diet and lifestyle related- so It’s not a Fait accompli and the body CAN recalibrate if we work on all the risk factors that result in metabolic inflexibility.

  • Insulin Insensitivity
  • High Fat High Sugar Diet
  • Circadian Disruption
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Inflammation
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Gut Dysbiosis & Intestinal Permeability

If you are a practitioner and want to get deep into all the mechanisms and pathways - I teach about this in depth in my practitioner affiliate mentoring programme.
If you are a client - I create a bespoke plan for YOU; assessing each of your individual risk factors, your metabolic nutrigenetic predisposition and relevant blood markers.
Remember The real key to long-term health is not a fast metabolism – it is a flexible one.