Top 7: Tips for OFM
The most effective approaches to nutrition are individualized. People differ in terms of genetics and lifestyle, so there's no one-size-fits-all.
I'm a proponent of Optimized Fat Metabolism (OFM). Even though it has an official name and a set of guiding principles, it's really meant to be adaptable to every individual. Even for myself, OFM has been an evolving process. Trying new things and making adjustments as my lifestyle has changed--throughout various training blocks and life events--has been key to having OFM work for me. In this post, I'm outlining the top seven lessons I learned in my journey with OFM.
Having someone help you through the process is a great advantage. They can help you to avoid some of the hurdles they may have faced along their own journey. But ultimately, you need to start with the determination to self-explore on your journey to better health.
Tip #1: Be patient.
OFM can often be a drastic change at first. Despite the paradigm beginning to swing a bit, OFM still flies in the face of most conventional nutrition. If your body has been used to something far from OFM, you need to give it time to recallabrate. I see lots of people try to become fat adapted and end up quitting because they drop the program before it has had time to take effect. The amount of time it takes each person to become fat adapted is influenced by dietary history, genetics, age, etc. Treat it as your own personal journey, not an expection to replicate someone else's timeline.
Tip #2: Listen to your body.
This is especially key when first getting started. When your body has been programmed to burn carbohydrates as its primary fuel, it's going to do some goofy things when you don't give it a steady flow of carbohydrates. I remember my journey into fat adaptation there were a couple days each week where it felt like even lifting my arms was a chore! On days like this, I listened to my body and didn't ask it to do anything it didn't want to, knowing that by doing so I would limit additional stress and give it the opportunity to switch over metabolically. In my journey, I got through this stage of sporadic energy dives in less than four weeks, and I was able to maintain most of my base miles throughout.
Tip #3: Look at your lifestyle.
The beauty of OFM is that it is a program designed for you as a person. This takes into account your lifestyle. OFM for me will be different than OFM for someone else. In fact, OFM for me training for a 100-mile race will be differnt than OFM training for a 5-kilometer race. One of the most common questions I get when people who are unfamiliar with OFM hear what I eat is, "Well, you can get away with high fat ratios because you train so much." I always smile at this, because the truth is I get away with much higher amounts of carbohydrate intake because I run so much. If I were sedintary, I'd have no need to use carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are a high-octane fuel. Treat it that way.
Tip #4: Carbs are not the enemy.
I think a lot of people think I hate carbs and that OFM looks at them as this evil poisonous thing. The truth is carbs are an incredible performance enhancer. This is especially true when you are participating in a high-intensity workout. Once a hard reset is done and the body begins to recognize fat as its primary fuel, you can bring back the carbs strategically. This doesn't mean carbo-loading in the traditional sense, because when fat-adapted the body simply doesn't need that much carbohydrate as fuel. In myself, peak carb use is usually around 20-30% of my daily macronutrient intake. This is often when I am training between 100-140 miles per week, strength training, and including intensity sessions within my running miles. When I need that high-octane fuel, I use it.
Tip #5: See stress holistically.
Stress is a funny thing. It can manifest physically, mentally, and emotionally. Everything from your training to your relationships can greatly influence your stress levels. Beginning to recognize where your life stressors are coming from is key. OFM is designed to minimize the level of stress that your diet puts on your body, but it can be thrown off if you are just overflowing with stress from other areas of your life. Also, recognize that life happens. The body is incredibly resilient. Once you get your OFM journey going, don't freak out if you make a mistake. Obviously, you want to minize frequent nutritional mistakes, but OFM won't cease to exist if you eat something "wrong" once in a while. Worrying about this constantly will actually cause more stress and make the diet less effective than if you had made the nutritional mistake and moved on.
Tip #6: The whole animal.
I use the whole-animal approach in my nutrition. I do this for two reasons. First, I strongly believe the body can do some amazing things in recovery and limiting stress and inflammation when it is given the combination of animal fat, protein, organ meat, and bone broth. Secondly, it seems silly to waste parts of the animal that are nutrient-packed, not to mention that's a very unsustainable approach.
Tip #7: Keep an eye on hydration.
This is a wise for anyone, but it can be different for someone following OFM. When fat-adapted, the body does seem to use higher levels of sodium, but that doesn't necessarily mean one should dump tons of salt on every meal. When following OFM, taking in electrolyles and water regularily during exercise is very important. If you let your hydration fail, you'll experience something similar to a bonk triggered by glycogen depletion. A general rule of thumb to start with is to salt food to taste and take electrolytes and water during workouts, especially on hot days. There is no need to pound tons of water leading into a workout. In fact, this will likely just cause an imbalance, as your body needs to excrete electrolytes when processing water.