Many folks are constantly looking for the one dieting strategy that will finally work for them. But most diets are pretty restrictive or regimented, which can make them hard to stick with over the long-term.
Good news: there may be a smart nutrition technique that could finally work for you if others haven’t so far. It’s called metabolic confusion, and more and more people are advocating for its effects.
But how exactly does metabolic confusion work? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Metabolic Confusion?
In a nutshell, metabolic confusion is a nutrition technique that involves regularly alternating the time of day you eat and curbing your consumption. In other words, you’ll adjust how much you eat at each meal and when you eat to keep your body guessing. This method is appropriately called “rotational fasting” in certain circles.
It’s thought that the body’s metabolism eventually gets used to certain caloric intake levels or eating cycles. Your body becomes used to you eating a certain amount of food each day, which can increase your appetite and cause you to gain weight. It may also make it more difficult for your metabolism to burn away fat.
By “confusing” your metabolism through eating different at different times of the day and curbing your consumption, you can theoretically accelerate your metabolism to a more rapid, natural state without increasing your appetite at the same time.
How Does Metabolic Confusion Work?
By keeping your metabolism active by curbing your consumption, you’ll also passively raise your baseline metabolic rate (i.e. how many calories your body will naturally burn when at rest). The more calories you burn, the more fat you burn, and the easier you’ll attain your weight loss goals.
What stops this process from going overboard? Your body will naturally resist losing weight once you reach your unique and ideal weight. Your metabolic rate will slow down, as will your thyroid gland’s hormone production.
Because metabolic confusion is more of a strategy instead of a set diet, there also aren’t any ironclad rules to follow. Instead, you can apply metabolic confusion to any existing diet effort or your regular eating routine. The key, as the name suggests, is maintaining metabolic confusion.
For instance, you might:
- Only eat food from 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. or any six-hour window.
- Eat a smoothie for breakfast, a smoothie for lunch, and then a sensible dinner.
- Skip breakfast on Monday, Wednesday and Friday one week and then the following week you could skip breakfast on Tuesday and Thursday and do half-size dinner on those same days.
Many people already adopt this nutrition strategy by accident simply because they may be too busy to eat a ton of food during the workweek, then eat a lot more during the weekend or holidays.
One other potential upside to metabolic confusion is that there aren’t any specific foods or vitamins/macronutrients to target or avoid. You can eat the same as you have been: all you have to do is focus on the amount of food you consume each day.
Does Metabolic Confusion Actually Help You Lose Weight?
Here’s the rundown: metabolic confusion is not guaranteed to help you lose weight. The supposed trick to metabolic confusion is that it kicks your metabolism into overdrive. But this may not necessarily have as much of an effect on weight loss as you might think.
Metabolism does have a big role play in weight loss, but it’s different for every individual. Some folks, therefore, might see a bigger jump in weight loss gains by making their metabolism burn a little more quickly than others. Metabolic confusion ultimately comes down to the individual, making it a poor overall dieting technique for the majority of the population.
But while metabolic confusion is not guaranteed to provide any significant results for any one person, many people prefer it to other dietary strategies simply because it’s easy to maintain. In addition, lots of people have hectic daily schedules, so metabolic confusion gels well with their natural cycles anyway.
Note that there have been studies that show rotational fasting and calorie shifting, as opposed to calorie restriction, may be more effective at reducing weight. The linked study here additionally shows that it may be easier for most people to stick with metabolic confusion as a dieting strategy as opposed to more regimented or rigorous methods.
But once again: your mileage may vary. Metabolic confusion could be the key you’ve always needed to reach your dietary goals. But it also might not have much of an effect at all.
Risks of Metabolic Confusion
While metabolic confusion can be effective for some people, it’s not necessarily a good idea if you have underlying health issues. As with any major diet or nutritional intake shift, it’s a good idea to consult with a medical professional to make sure there won’t be any big side effects.
Some people, when forcing changes in their bodies in this way, might experience side effects like:
- Loss of appetite
- Growth of appetite
So, is metabolic confusion right for you? It could be.
It all depends on what your weight loss goals are and what your daily lifestyle looks like. Some people may have a very easy time sticking with metabolic confusion over the long-term since it just requires introducing a little randomness into your daily eating habits. It’s also a bit easier to stomach than skipping meals entirely.
Other people like having a more consistent routine, so metabolic confusion might be a bad choice.
Whatever you choose, remember the metabolic confusion isn’t a guarantee for weight loss. It may be better thought of as a complementary strategy to be used in conjunction with good eating habits and a solid nutrition plan.