We all know it: the Standard American Diet. It’s the way 99% of the country eats every day, with its sugar, carbohydrates, and processed food overload. But have you ever stopped to think about what this unhealthy combo is truly doing to your body? Let’s dive into the fascinating world of blood chemistry and metabolic flexibility to find out—all thanks to Leanne Vogel!
Meet Leanne Vogel!
Introducing Leanne Vogel, the amazing founder of Healthful Pursuit! Leanne is not only a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Functional Blood Chemistry Specialist, but she has also been helping women balance their hormones through a keto diet since 2007.
With her expertise in addressing chronic root causes like parasites, mold, and metal toxicity, Leanne uses standard blood work to create personalized solutions.
She is also the talented author of the incredible best-selling book, The Keto Diet, which happens to be the very first keto diet book I ever bought back in 2017.
And that’s not all! Leanne also hosts the popular and longest-running keto podcast, The Keto Diet Podcast.
Today, she is here to tell us all about the importance of metabolic flexibility and how knowing your blood chemistry while on keto can help you improve your health.
What is metabolic flexibility?
Metabolic flexibility is the ability to switch between burning fat and burning sugar. It’s what we all strive for—the ability to enjoy a cupcake without gaining weight or celebrate birthdays with pizza and still maintain control over our eating habits.
Metabolic flexibility is what allows you to go without food for longer periods of time without getting hangry, or try longer fasting periods without constantly craving carbohydrates.
It also helps us to better understand our body, and how it responds to different foods.
What’s an example of metabolic flexibility?
When Leanne first started keto, she said her main focus was getting the carb intake as low as possible to achieve deep ketosis. Now, however, she sees keto as a tool to reach her goals!
She explains that after successfully following a ketogenic diet for seven years, she realized she didn’t have to be keto forever to maintain metabolic flexibility.
These days, she uses a ketogenic diet to sustain metabolic flexibility. She has learned that carbohydrates have a place in our diet, and understanding the science behind blood chemistry and the microbiome has shaped this new perspective.
While strict keto may not be the healthiest option for everyone, there is still value in committing to it. Overall, Leanne shares that her philosophy has shifted over time, and she now advocates for a more balanced approach to keto.
What role does blood chemistry play?
Leanne’s approach to health is rooted in blood chemistry. By understanding your blood work, and then using food as medicine to target any imbalances within the body, you can create an individualized plan for long-term health.
By integrating her Functional Blood Chemistry knowledge with a ketogenic diet, Leanne helps interpret lab results and create meal plans tailored to the individual’s health goals.
For example, if blood work indicates an inflammatory pattern such as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) or a low thyroid hormone level, she can create a meal plan that is both ketogenic and anti-inflammatory.
Leanne also uses her knowledge of the microbiome to help identify bacteria imbalances that can influence your health.
3 ways people sabotage their health
Through her own experience reaching her health goals, Leanne is also passionate about making sure people have all the tools they need to reach their own goals.
Unfortunately, there are a number of ways that people sabotage their health without even knowing it. Here are the top 3:
1) Not listening to your body
Leanne shares her personal experience of pushing through a strict keto diet despite experiencing symptoms like:
- Pins and needles
- Difficulty breathing
She also emphasizes the importance of addressing digestive issues, such as persistent diarrhea. Don’t let these common pitfalls jeopardize your well-being!
2) Following contradicting medical information
With so much conflicting information out there, it can be difficult to know who or what to trust.
For instance, podcasts offer us a world of knowledge, but with so much contradicting information, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We often hear conflicting advice, making it hard to know what’s right for us. It’s crucial to understand our own bodies before trying to do it all.
Leanne shares, “I know I’ll never be a marathon runner. It’s just not my thing. So instead of wasting time on running podcasts, I focus on what matters to me.”
The constant flood of information can be daunting, but knowing when to ask for help and seek the right information is key.
3) Not building a group of supportive medical professionals
It’s also important to build a team of supportive professionals, such as a functional medicine doctor or nutritionist. Having someone who can guide you through your health journey is invaluable!
Not only do they help you understand the science behind what is going on in your body, but they can also help motivate and encourage you when things get tough. Plus, having someone you can trust to recommend the best options for your particular situation will save you time and energy.
How to take the next step and make a healthy change
Taking the first step towards a healthy lifestyle can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be!
Leanne suggests that taking small steps is the best way to start. Start by educating yourself on nutrition and functional blood chemistry, as well as listening to your body.
Let’s start with blood work and blood chemistry!
What is blood chemistry?
Many of us dread going to the doctor for check-ups, whether it’s once a year or once every decade. They run a few tests, tell us our results are normal, and send us home. But is that really all there is to it?
The truth is, blood chemistry reveals so much more about our health than just basic lab results. It goes beyond the standard tests like glucose levels and red meat restrictions. It’s about understanding what each individual body truly needs.
When you receive your regular blood work, such as CMP 14, CBC with differential, glucose, and insulin, you can gain invaluable insights into your cellular health. Even if you follow a strict diet like keto, you may still find that your blood work is far from optimal.
Use your functional blood chemistry to better your health
Functional blood chemistry can provide valuable insights into your diet, nutrient needs, liver and kidney function, and overall well-being.
Unlike traditional doctors who focus on diagnosing diseases, functional blood chemistry aims to catch issues before they become diagnosable. This means we can address any imbalances or problems in your body before they progress.
How does food impact our blood chemistry?
The food that we eat every day has an incredible impact on our blood chemistry. Foods like processed grains, refined sugars, and high-fat meats can cause inflammation in the body, resulting in long-term negative effects on our health.
Conversely, eating a balanced diet with plenty of nutrient-dense foods can provide us with vital nutrients for optimal functioning. Nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids can help support our cells and promote healthy blood chemistry.
FAQs about metabolic flexibility and blood chemistry
We recently took some time to ask Leanne some questions about metabolic flexibility and blood chemistry panels. We wanted to share them with you in case you were having the same questions yourselves!
What is an HbA1c on a blood test panel?
“HbA1c stands for Hemoglobin A1c. It’s a marker that helps determine your glucose variability. You see, your blood sugar levels are always fluctuating, going up and down. HbA1c looks at the average of these ups and downs.
However, relying solely on HbA1c may not always catch actual issues.
There are other methods to assess glucose variability, beyond just looking at HbA1c. It’s not the ultimate gold standard.
People who follow the keto diet or have been in the keto space for a while often focus on checking their HbA1c levels. While it can be a useful marker, it’s important to consider other factors too.
For example, if you have iron anemia, your HbA1c levels may be elevated. So it’s crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of your overall health and not just rely on HbA1c.
My advice: Next time you visit your doctor, make sure to discuss and monitor all aspects of your blood sugar!“
Why do I have an elevated HbA1c?
“It could be due to an iron issue. Unfortunately, HbA1c is not the best marker in this case. It can be increased or even normal, depending on the person. It’s important to address your diet to get back on track.”
What is the #1 marker to keep an eye out for on a blood chemistry panel?
“Glucose, the key to measuring your actual glucose levels, is an important marker. But remember, it’s just a snapshot at a specific moment. This is why fasting is crucial before your test—no food or coffee, just water!
During your test, you’ll get your fasting glucose, which is a valuable marker. However, keep in mind that there are other ways to monitor your glucose, such as prick testing or using a CGM monitor on the back of your arm. Although there may be a slight difference in readings, they still provide important information.
Moving on to insulin, another marker that reveals your metabolic health and carbohydrate processing. Unfortunately, elevated insulin levels can be caused by deficiencies, even if you’re doing everything right on a ketogenic diet. It could be due to a lack of essential minerals.
Instead of HbA1c, I suggest using C peptide, which is more stable and offers valuable insights into your overall variability and needs compared to insulin.“
Are all of these blood tests the kind your doctor would need to prescribe for you?
“If you’re outside the US, that’s correct. However, if you’re in the US, you have options!
You can visit LabCorp, LA Lab Test, or work with Vibrant America to get your own lab work done. The great thing is, in most states, you don’t even need a doctor’s requisition to get your blood work.
Unfortunately, there are a few exceptions like New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York where you do need a doctor.
But here’s the really cool part—once you have your blood work, you may not understand the results. That’s where my blood work course comes in!
I wanted to give people an option to understand what their results mean and how to take action. Because relying solely on standard allopathic ranges might not be helpful due to their wide scope.”
How do I find doctors who understand functional blood chemistry?
“A doctor that’s been trained by IFM—Institute of Functional Medicine is a good starting point. However, it’s important to ask if they are trained in functional blood chemistry. If you come to them with elevated HbA1c levels, what will be their top priority?
Take advantage of the internet to research and find a practitioner whose approach aligns with your needs before scheduling an appointment.
Gone are the days of blindly walking into an office without knowing who you’re getting involved with. Now, you can check their online presence, such as their Instagram page, to see what they’re all about.
Keep in mind that while some amazing practitioners may not have a PhD or MD, they bring immense value to the table. The shift is happening, where people are realizing the importance of going to doctors for serious diagnostic issues, while seeking other practitioners for additional support.”
What are some other things that I need to be looking out for with blood work?
“Genetic sequences, like PPOE3 and PPOE4, can affect our ability to process saturated fats.
If you’re following a strict ketogenic diet and notice a drastic increase in your LDL cholesterol, it could be a sign that your body can’t handle saturated fat. But fear not; there’s a solution.
Consider a Mediterranean-style ketogenic diet to still enjoy the benefits of keto without the negative effects!
But here’s the thing—everyone is different. Depending on factors like oxidation, adrenal health, and thyroid function, a low carb diet may not be the best choice for everyone. However, the most common issue with a high saturated fat intake on keto is an increase in LDL cholesterol.
On the flip side, triglyceride levels tend to respond incredibly well to a ketogenic diet. Even clients who come to us with sky-high triglyceride levels on a standard American diet have seen significant improvements in just three months! Our goal is to get those levels under 200, and ideally under 100.
However, if your liver is not functioning optimally or if you’ve had your gallbladder removed, you may experience an increase in triglycerides on a ketogenic diet. This is a sign that your liver needs extra support. Remember, the liver plays a crucial role in ketosis.
So before jumping headfirst into deep ketosis, make sure your liver is in good shape to avoid potential issues with triglycerides. In fact, I’ve seen this happen more often than the LDL and saturated fat situation.”
How often would you recommend that people get their blood work done?
“If you’re actively working towards goals and want to address the root causes of any health issues, I recommend getting blood work done every three months. However, if you’re more laid-back about your health, checking up every six months should be sufficient.
Personally, I get my blood work done quite frequently because I like to stay updated on my health. In fact, I go monthly and even have my own lab account. I just prepare a requisition for myself and see what’s happening after any major changes I make.
For those on thyroid medication, annual blood work is essential. It’s alarming how many clients I’ve seen who were put on thyroid medication years ago and never had follow-up tests. So, once a year, it’s crucial to get a full thyroid workup. This also applies to hormone replacement therapy and those taking hormones due to hysterectomy or other reasons.
Hormonal levels should be checked every six to 12 months to ensure everything is in order.
When you make specific changes, such as removing the gallbladder or implementing new supplements and diet adjustments, it’s important to check blood work after 30 days to see how the body is responding. Once you’re more accustomed to the routine, you can extend the intervals between tests a bit.”
What is the real first step that somebody needs to take to start?
“The first step is getting a blood work done to understand your body better. Just a $60 basic workup can provide you with a starting point for your keto or low carb diet. But don’t stop there!
Once you’ve made progress, it’s important to go in for another blood work to see how far you’ve come. By assessing your results, you can track improvements in things like triglycerides, LDL, and glucose levels.
Understanding your blood work is crucial, and I’ve created a guide to help you prepare for it. Visit healthfulpursuit.com/labs to find the resource you need.
Start your health journey off right with a clearer understanding of your body!”
Metabolic flexibility is a crucial part of living a keto lifestyle. By understanding your blood work, you can make adjustments to ensure that your diet and nutritional habits are working for you—not against you!
Having an accurate idea of what’s happening in your body can help you make more informed decisions regarding the foods that you eat and how they affect your health. Investing in functional blood chemistry tests can give you a better understanding of your metabolism and how to best support it.
Ready to take action and boost your metabolic flexibility? Here are a few additional ways to start:
Connect with Leanne
If you would like to connect with Leanne, send her a DM on Instagram @leannevogel to learn more.
Ready to lose weight and get healthy for life without dieting, drugs or making yourself miserable? Our brand new (and totally free!) on demand video training will help you understand why it’s been so hard and what do to about it.
Listen to the Podcast
If you found this post helpful, you’ll love the podcast where we interview
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