Wednesday, October 19, 2016

OFM – MET – LCHF: What’s It All Mean

I am not going to try and cover a full explanation of all the acronyms in the title but do
hope to shed some light on them as best I can and spur your interest to look into the subject more in depth on your own.

First what are they:
  • OFM – Optimized Fat Metabolism
  • MET – Metabolic Efficiency Training
  • LCHF – Low Carb High Fat 

And one added one that I already wrote on here – What is MAF?
  • MAF – Maximum Aerobic Function

First let me say that these all work together and need to be seen as such.  It is also important to see how working towards, say OFM, may look different for each person as while there may be some universal principles one can apply in general as we are all different in various ways how the above apply to an individual may differ.

I will start by trying to show how these work together.  To begin with it is important to know where you want to go and then you can set a path to get there.  That is where OFM comes into play, as it is an outcome to achieve.  This outcome can actually be part of a bigger goal, and it should be, such as being having a goal of longevity in running and good health or maybe being able to run longer and even faster.  With all of these top end goals OFM is a way to get there.

As an aside - OFM is not new, the acronym and name be, as the idea that one's running can benefit from burning fat has been known for some time.  When I began to run marathons back in the late 70's I read about how to help burn fat early in a race you could take caffeine pills.  Caffeine was supposed to help with the fat burning so we took No-Doze to try and minimize the affects of the other ingredients in the coffee on our system.  Looking back the problem with this was that this was also when "Carboloading" was the rage and thus we probably negated much of what the caffeine was to accomplish by stuffing our faces with carbohydrates as many of us did for the days before a race.  The point though is that the use of fat a fuel is not a new idea but maybe is now being seen more as a main source rather than being used simply to delay the onset of crashing due to low carbohydrate supplies.

Next, would come MET as a way to achieve OFM via a training plan that helps one best use fat and thus have an efficient metabolism.  I hope you see how we in truth need to separate out these terms to see how they work together holistically.  Thus, we have gotten to where, as part of the bigger picture, we want to best OFM and to do so we need to employ MET.

Then we get to the methods used to train, the tools we use.  One tool I use is MAF and as I have written on this before I will not spend much of time here.  Basically one of the benefits of MAF, aside from building a great aerobic base and minimizing the damage of running too hard is that it also helps one train their body to burn fat.  So in this case MAF is a great tool to use in ones MET to reach the goal of OFM.

Lastly, well lastly in the case of this short article, is LCHF which is yet another tool to reach OFM.  Is it the only tool, no, but it is in my opinion an important place to look into.  Let me add here that for me LCHF actually is probably better seen as being – Lower Carb – Higher Fat.  I use the terms “lower” and “higher” since if you do much reading you will find that LCHF can range from being in Ketosis to simply being much lower than the average person, or in this case, athlete.  Even within the LCHF realm there is a lot of conversation about what is the right amount of carbs for a person and if Ketosis is a place to be long term or if it is best achieved periodically.  One thing I would like to add here just to be clear;  I am convinced if you have an insulin resistance problem or other health issue related to sugar LCHF is very likely the answer.  For others of us LCHF is an excellent tool to help get to where we want to be with OFM by reducing ones carbohydrate intake and thus helping to move to better utilization of fat as an energy source.

While I think LCHF is a great tool you do need to see what works best for you as in my case I found if I am too low on carbs it does not have the affect I am looking for.  That said I am very low compared to most other runners I know.   

Most that I talk to about  going LCHF struggle with the idea of reducing carbs and this probably stems from all the indoctrination we have all had over the years that "High Carb” is important and especially for athletes.   For those that struggle I advise a couple things:

First is to take the Maffetone Two Week Test (TWT – sorry to add another acronym).  This is an extreme low card regimen for two weeks that is followed by strategically adding back carbs so one can see if they do have a particular issue with carbs or if maybe it is just some carbs that cause issues.  This is not really a diet but a means to find out what how your body reacts and deals with carbohydrates.  I found that in general I can handle carbs but if I get too much bread, for instance, it gives me intestinal issues, such as gas – sorry had to share that.  You may find other issues but it is a great tool to use to help dial in your eating habits. If you are interested in trying the TWT you can get info at the link at the start of the paragraph or here.

The second thing I suggest, if one just does not want to deal with lowering carbs yet, is to at the least work to eliminate as many processed foods as you can and work to eating real foods.   One affect of this will be that you will end up lowering your carb intake and the carbs you will be getting rid of are empty ones, ones you do not want as it is.  This will get you down the road to better health and will even more than likely help with your fat metabolism work.

I did not want this too be a long drawn out article but one that lets you see that as we learn things we have to realize where they fit in the scheme of things.  Such as OFM being a goal, actually part of a larger goal, with MET being a plan to get there and something like MAF and/or LCHF being tools to use to accomplish those goals.  When you see it as a continuum you can possibly not get so overwhelmed by the info out there.  Bottom line seek first better health and then you will see your running improve.  It may take time but most good things do.

Some other resources:

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