Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What is metabolic flexibility?

I came across the term "metabolic flexibility."

I immediately became intrigued with the term. After reading about it, I became aware of the immense flexibility that a living organism has to reorganize its biochemical processes and thus do a better job at what they do.

We take our food to get energy that will spend in all the processes needed to sustain life, as we know it. There are 2 ways in which cell can get energy from food. The preferred way is to use glucose in a process known as glycolysis. The other way is to use fats in a process known as beta-oxidation-. So, glycolysis convert glucose to energy an beta-oxidation fat to energy.

After ingesting anything containing carbohydrates (glucose, sucrose, fructose, or starch), insulin (a hormone) ensures that the glucose is immediately taken into the cell and used for energy, stored as glycogen (a polymer of glucose) or converted into palmitic acid—a saturated fatty acid!

Almost all cells will always burn glucose when if available. But eventually cells run out of glucose, and that's when they switch over to anther process to get the energy they need ---the beta-oxidation—or "fat burning for energy" process. The ability of a cell to switch between these two "energy producing" processes is called "metabolic flexibility" in the scientific literature.

Metabolic flexibility varies from individual to individual. Some people may have an impaired metabolic flexibility so switching back and forth between the two processes may be very difficult. So, in these individuals diets may not work. Because even a strict calories deficit will not make the cells to utilize the fat storages as they  are supposed to do. This study  shows that people with a family history of type II diabetes, but who don't yet have it themselves, have an impaired metabolic flexibility.

In a following post I will discuss how you can regain your metabolic flexibility. Now is your turn, what do you think about this post. Please leave a comment….

1 comment:

  1. What can I say? This is an extremely interesting topic and it has already help me better understand previously half digested notions. I hope you elaborate on the matter at length in the future. Thank you for taking the time to share.