7
MIN READ
Fueling success: The critical role of metabolic health and how to improve it
Metabolic health shouldn’t be ignored.
Written by
Team Compound
Medically reviewed by
Team Compound
Last updated
May 10, 2024

When it comes to optimum performance, fuelling for success is key. But while you might think maintaining a consistent number on the scale is the only indicator one needs to think they’re fuelling correctly, the fact is that metabolic health shouldn’t be ignored.

With metabolism increasingly linked to weight management, exercise, sleep, and stress, understanding and promoting good metabolic health can help you hit your fitness goals and lower your risk of developing metabolic diseases. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it refers to the functioning of the body’s metabolic processes. A major focus is the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels so you avoid a nose-dive in energy levels post-meal.

But it's also the metabolism that converts calories from food into energy and influences the body’s ability to store and break down fat.  

Wondering how metabolic health impacts your fuelling choices or how you can improve your metabolic health to reach your fitness goals and peak performance? In this helpful guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about metabolic health to set you up for success.

What is metabolic health?

To function optimally, the body undergoes several physiological processes, which we refer to as metabolic health.

As chemical reactions occur in the body to convert food into energy, your metabolic health is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels, managing insulin sensitivity, and maintaining a healthy balance of various hormones that regulate metabolism, fat storage, and cholesterol levels. 

Given that it’s your metabolism that’s responsible for the breakdown of nutrients consumed into energy, metabolic health is an important process that has impacts on your weight, well-being, and overall health. 

While several factors make up your metabolic health, ultimately, it’s the absence of metabolic syndrome that indicates you are metabolically healthy. This means you don’t have conditions like high blood pressure, excess body fat around the waist, or high blood sugar.

What is good metabolic health?

Good metabolic health is far more than simply maintaining a healthy weight. It also positively influences your overall health and well-being, allowing your body to digest and absorb important nutrients from food without spikes in blood sugar, blood fat, or insulin.

Plus, good metabolic health has been found to offer a stack of benefits including:

  • Stable and sustained energy: Without blood sugar highs and lows, you’ll have sustained energy to power you throughout your daily activities [1].
  • More restful sleep: Studies have shown that improved glucose management can correlate to more restful sleep, with people with type 2 diabetes often reporting poor sleep quality [2].
  • Fat-burning and healthy weight management: More stable blood sugar levels and good metabolic health have been shown to aid weight loss as your body is better able to burn stored fat. When your blood sugar is regulated, and you have a healthy diet, you’ll find that you also feel satiated for longer, keeping cravings at bay. 
  • Sharp memory and recall: Better glucose regulation has been linked to sharper recall and better memory function as your brain can operate optimally from an efficient use of fuel [3].
  • Clear skin and reduced wrinkles: Research suggests that consistently elevated glucose levels can accelerate skin ageing and contribute to acne [4].
  • Stable mood with decreased anxiety and depression: Research continues to show a link between blood sugar and anxiety and depression, while mood swings are thought to correlate to glucose fluctuations [5].

What are the 5 signs of metabolic health?

Doctors have identified 5 key markers of metabolic health that can be examined to understand how well it may be functioning and what areas can be improved. These signs include:

Blood pressure

High blood pressure is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome. Regular blood pressure checks are conducted to assess cardiovascular health. 

Waist circumference

According to studies, waist circumference has a strong correlation with health risk indicators, followed by body mass index (BMI) [6].

While your doctor will also take into account your percentage of body fat and fat distribution, health risks can also be assessed by waist circumference measurements. 

Glucose

Metabolic health refers to the body’s ability to generate and process energy, so glucose is a primary measurement to determine whether one has good or poor metabolic health.

For metabolism to work effectively, you want to maintain stable blood sugar and ensure you get enough exercise. 

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are an important marker of metabolic health, as they account for about 95% of all dietary fats.

For those who are overweight or obese from eating more calories than they burn during exercise, triglyceride levels circulating in the blood will be significantly higher, contributing to metabolic syndrome. 

HDL Cholesterol

High-density lipoproteins are known as “good” cholesterol. They are thought to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease because they have antioxidant properties in the vasculature and can improve glucose metabolism in the skeletal muscle. 

While these markers are checked in a metabolic health assessment, they can identify metabolic syndrome. According to the National Institute of Health, the condition is defined as having 3 or more of the following traits:

  • Blood pressure: Increased blood pressure of 130/85 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) or higher.
  • Waist circumference: A waistline that measures at least 35 inches (89 centimetres) for women and 40 inches (102 centimetres) for men. 
  • Glucose: An elevated fasting blood sugar of 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) or higher.
  • Triglycerides: A high triglyceride level of 150 milligrams per deciliter, or 1.7 millimoles per litre, or higher of this type of fat found in the blood. 
  • HDL Cholesterol: Reduced HDL cholesterol with less than 40 milligrams per deciliter in men or less than 50 mg/dL in women.

What are the consequences of poor metabolic health?

Just as good metabolic health has a positive impact on overall health and wellbeing, poor metabolic health has a significant negative impact on an individual’s overall health.

For those who are metabolically unhealthy, you’re at greater risk of developing the condition known as metabolic syndrome.

This diagnosis presents risk factors for other health issues and metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular issues due to elevated levels of triglycerides and high blood pressure, increased risk of cancer, and sleep disorders.

Researchers at Oxford Population Health also found that poor metabolic health led to an increased risk of dementia. In a study of more than 176,000 individuals, those who had metabolic syndrome reported a 12% increased risk of developing dementia compared to those who did not have metabolic syndrome [7].

The risk further increased with the more metabolic syndrome conditions one had, with 4 or 5 conditions increasing the risk of dementia by 19% and 50%, respectively. 

How does blood sugar reflect metabolic health?

As mentioned above, there are a range of factors to consider when it comes to metabolic health but blood sugar has a profound impact. Controlled blood sugar levels tend to reflect good metabolic health and reduced risk of health problems, including diabetes and heart disease, while also supporting healthy weight and blood pressure. 

Elevated blood glucose is a key marker of metabolic syndrome. While eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing alcohol consumption can also assist in healthy blood glucose levels, certain conditions can affect your blood glucose. 

Insulin resistance is a condition that affects blood sugar levels as the body is unable to respond as it should to insulin. Insulin resistance disrupts metabolism as the glucose stays in your bloodstream instead of entering cells, where it’s then used for energy. As a result of these increased insulin levels, you’re more likely to store fat and gain weight.

Can you improve your metabolic health?

If you’re at greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome or experiencing poor metabolic health, the good news is that you can improve metabolic health.

Just like physical fitness can be improved by implementing changes to our diet and lifestyle, so too can changes positively impact our metabolic health. 

Consider these tips for optimal metabolic health.

Get regular exercise

Exercise is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle and should include both aerobic exercises and strength training.

As well as helping you burn calories to support healthy weight management and optimal cardiovascular health, physical activity can support you to maintain lean muscle mass which is important when it comes to burning calories at rest. 

Focus on nutrition

When it comes to metabolic health, you want to ensure you’re eating nutrient-dense foods. Avoid crash diets that negatively impact metabolism and can lead to nutrient deficiencies due to the nature of their restriction.

A typical day of healthy, balanced meals should incorporate fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. 

Prioritise sleep

Make it a priority to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. This will help to regulate hormones that directly affect your appetite and improve your metabolic health. 

Limit alcohol consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt your metabolic processes and contribute to weight gain, as empty calories contribute to your overall daily calorie intake.

While it’s important to stay hydrated particularly when exercising, the best way to support digestion, metabolism, and overall health is by drinking plenty of water. 

Eat regularly 

Skipping meals and engaging in crash diets can wreak havoc on your metabolism and even contribute to irregular blood sugar levels. Going long periods without food can also lead you to binge later on, which again causes disruptions to your blood sugar.

Your best option is to eat balanced meals regularly throughout the day to maintain energy levels and support metabolism. 

Now that you know the importance of metabolic health, you’re probably wondering how best to improve yours or where you can access support on your health journey.

This is where Compound comes in — we're a digital clinic for performance health. Once the exclusive domain of billionaires and Hollywood stars, we're on a mission to make premium concierge care accessible to every man who wants more.

We take a multi-disciplinary approach to health optimisation and preventative care to help men unlock barriers to everyday performance.

Compound’s program is executed in 3 stages — starting with a suite of diagnostics to get the clearest picture of health you’ve ever had, using tools like DEXA scans and a VO2 max test. This is followed by a complete diet, health and training program, all guided by an expert health coach.

The final piece of the puzzle is medical treatment, supplements and hardware that you need to boost performance and meet your goals

Once you commit, our team is dedicated to ensuring you see returns. Your part won’t be easy but we’ll equip you for success like never before.

When it comes to optimum performance, fuelling for success is key. But while you might think maintaining a consistent number on the scale is the only indicator one needs to think they’re fuelling correctly, the fact is that metabolic health shouldn’t be ignored.

With metabolism increasingly linked to weight management, exercise, sleep, and stress, understanding and promoting good metabolic health can help you hit your fitness goals and lower your risk of developing metabolic diseases. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it refers to the functioning of the body’s metabolic processes. A major focus is the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels so you avoid a nose-dive in energy levels post-meal.

But it's also the metabolism that converts calories from food into energy and influences the body’s ability to store and break down fat.  

Wondering how metabolic health impacts your fuelling choices or how you can improve your metabolic health to reach your fitness goals and peak performance? In this helpful guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about metabolic health to set you up for success.

What is metabolic health?

To function optimally, the body undergoes several physiological processes, which we refer to as metabolic health.

As chemical reactions occur in the body to convert food into energy, your metabolic health is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels, managing insulin sensitivity, and maintaining a healthy balance of various hormones that regulate metabolism, fat storage, and cholesterol levels. 

Given that it’s your metabolism that’s responsible for the breakdown of nutrients consumed into energy, metabolic health is an important process that has impacts on your weight, well-being, and overall health. 

While several factors make up your metabolic health, ultimately, it’s the absence of metabolic syndrome that indicates you are metabolically healthy. This means you don’t have conditions like high blood pressure, excess body fat around the waist, or high blood sugar.

What is good metabolic health?

Good metabolic health is far more than simply maintaining a healthy weight. It also positively influences your overall health and well-being, allowing your body to digest and absorb important nutrients from food without spikes in blood sugar, blood fat, or insulin.

Plus, good metabolic health has been found to offer a stack of benefits including:

  • Stable and sustained energy: Without blood sugar highs and lows, you’ll have sustained energy to power you throughout your daily activities [1].
  • More restful sleep: Studies have shown that improved glucose management can correlate to more restful sleep, with people with type 2 diabetes often reporting poor sleep quality [2].
  • Fat-burning and healthy weight management: More stable blood sugar levels and good metabolic health have been shown to aid weight loss as your body is better able to burn stored fat. When your blood sugar is regulated, and you have a healthy diet, you’ll find that you also feel satiated for longer, keeping cravings at bay. 
  • Sharp memory and recall: Better glucose regulation has been linked to sharper recall and better memory function as your brain can operate optimally from an efficient use of fuel [3].
  • Clear skin and reduced wrinkles: Research suggests that consistently elevated glucose levels can accelerate skin ageing and contribute to acne [4].
  • Stable mood with decreased anxiety and depression: Research continues to show a link between blood sugar and anxiety and depression, while mood swings are thought to correlate to glucose fluctuations [5].

What are the 5 signs of metabolic health?

Doctors have identified 5 key markers of metabolic health that can be examined to understand how well it may be functioning and what areas can be improved. These signs include:

Blood pressure

High blood pressure is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome. Regular blood pressure checks are conducted to assess cardiovascular health. 

Waist circumference

According to studies, waist circumference has a strong correlation with health risk indicators, followed by body mass index (BMI) [6].

While your doctor will also take into account your percentage of body fat and fat distribution, health risks can also be assessed by waist circumference measurements. 

Glucose

Metabolic health refers to the body’s ability to generate and process energy, so glucose is a primary measurement to determine whether one has good or poor metabolic health.

For metabolism to work effectively, you want to maintain stable blood sugar and ensure you get enough exercise. 

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are an important marker of metabolic health, as they account for about 95% of all dietary fats.

For those who are overweight or obese from eating more calories than they burn during exercise, triglyceride levels circulating in the blood will be significantly higher, contributing to metabolic syndrome. 

HDL Cholesterol

High-density lipoproteins are known as “good” cholesterol. They are thought to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease because they have antioxidant properties in the vasculature and can improve glucose metabolism in the skeletal muscle. 

While these markers are checked in a metabolic health assessment, they can identify metabolic syndrome. According to the National Institute of Health, the condition is defined as having 3 or more of the following traits:

  • Blood pressure: Increased blood pressure of 130/85 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) or higher.
  • Waist circumference: A waistline that measures at least 35 inches (89 centimetres) for women and 40 inches (102 centimetres) for men. 
  • Glucose: An elevated fasting blood sugar of 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) or higher.
  • Triglycerides: A high triglyceride level of 150 milligrams per deciliter, or 1.7 millimoles per litre, or higher of this type of fat found in the blood. 
  • HDL Cholesterol: Reduced HDL cholesterol with less than 40 milligrams per deciliter in men or less than 50 mg/dL in women.

What are the consequences of poor metabolic health?

Just as good metabolic health has a positive impact on overall health and wellbeing, poor metabolic health has a significant negative impact on an individual’s overall health.

For those who are metabolically unhealthy, you’re at greater risk of developing the condition known as metabolic syndrome.

This diagnosis presents risk factors for other health issues and metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular issues due to elevated levels of triglycerides and high blood pressure, increased risk of cancer, and sleep disorders.

Researchers at Oxford Population Health also found that poor metabolic health led to an increased risk of dementia. In a study of more than 176,000 individuals, those who had metabolic syndrome reported a 12% increased risk of developing dementia compared to those who did not have metabolic syndrome [7].

The risk further increased with the more metabolic syndrome conditions one had, with 4 or 5 conditions increasing the risk of dementia by 19% and 50%, respectively. 

How does blood sugar reflect metabolic health?

As mentioned above, there are a range of factors to consider when it comes to metabolic health but blood sugar has a profound impact. Controlled blood sugar levels tend to reflect good metabolic health and reduced risk of health problems, including diabetes and heart disease, while also supporting healthy weight and blood pressure. 

Elevated blood glucose is a key marker of metabolic syndrome. While eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing alcohol consumption can also assist in healthy blood glucose levels, certain conditions can affect your blood glucose. 

Insulin resistance is a condition that affects blood sugar levels as the body is unable to respond as it should to insulin. Insulin resistance disrupts metabolism as the glucose stays in your bloodstream instead of entering cells, where it’s then used for energy. As a result of these increased insulin levels, you’re more likely to store fat and gain weight.

Can you improve your metabolic health?

If you’re at greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome or experiencing poor metabolic health, the good news is that you can improve metabolic health.

Just like physical fitness can be improved by implementing changes to our diet and lifestyle, so too can changes positively impact our metabolic health. 

Consider these tips for optimal metabolic health.

Get regular exercise

Exercise is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle and should include both aerobic exercises and strength training.

As well as helping you burn calories to support healthy weight management and optimal cardiovascular health, physical activity can support you to maintain lean muscle mass which is important when it comes to burning calories at rest. 

Focus on nutrition

When it comes to metabolic health, you want to ensure you’re eating nutrient-dense foods. Avoid crash diets that negatively impact metabolism and can lead to nutrient deficiencies due to the nature of their restriction.

A typical day of healthy, balanced meals should incorporate fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. 

Prioritise sleep

Make it a priority to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. This will help to regulate hormones that directly affect your appetite and improve your metabolic health. 

Limit alcohol consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt your metabolic processes and contribute to weight gain, as empty calories contribute to your overall daily calorie intake.

While it’s important to stay hydrated particularly when exercising, the best way to support digestion, metabolism, and overall health is by drinking plenty of water. 

Eat regularly 

Skipping meals and engaging in crash diets can wreak havoc on your metabolism and even contribute to irregular blood sugar levels. Going long periods without food can also lead you to binge later on, which again causes disruptions to your blood sugar.

Your best option is to eat balanced meals regularly throughout the day to maintain energy levels and support metabolism. 

Now that you know the importance of metabolic health, you’re probably wondering how best to improve yours or where you can access support on your health journey.

This is where Compound comes in — we're a digital clinic for performance health. Once the exclusive domain of billionaires and Hollywood stars, we're on a mission to make premium concierge care accessible to every man who wants more.

We take a multi-disciplinary approach to health optimisation and preventative care to help men unlock barriers to everyday performance.

Compound’s program is executed in 3 stages — starting with a suite of diagnostics to get the clearest picture of health you’ve ever had, using tools like DEXA scans and a VO2 max test. This is followed by a complete diet, health and training program, all guided by an expert health coach.

The final piece of the puzzle is medical treatment, supplements and hardware that you need to boost performance and meet your goals

Once you commit, our team is dedicated to ensuring you see returns. Your part won’t be easy but we’ll equip you for success like never before.

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