Find Your Burner Type

Modifying the Metabolic Diet to suit your needs


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To help you tailor your diet effectively we refer you onto Jade Teta, one of the head nutritionists at Metabolic Effect. First you must learn how your body may differ someone else in terms of what fuel your body prefers to burn, as this has a massive effect on how you should eat. At the end there is a link to a Questionnaire that will help you find what “burner type” you are. There is some reading involved, but the information will have an ever-lasting effect.




The Burner Types

The body has two  fuels at its disposal, sugar (carbs) and fat. We burn a mix of these two  fuels all the time, but our individual genetics as well as our chosen  lifestyle habits can determine which fuel dominates. Stress and  overeating are two of the biggest influences on which fuel we burn.   Both push the body toward a higher proportion of sugar use compared to fat. Too  much food or the wrong types of food push us more towards sugar burning  and fat storage. Too much stress pushes us toward muscle burning  (muscle can be burned to use as sugar) and fat storage.

In the Metabolic Effect way of thinking, there are three burner types and they lie on a  continuum. On one side there are the sugar burners who tend to be insulin dominant resulting in a metabolic preference to run  off of sugar from the food they eat rather than using fat for energy. In  the middle there are the mixed burners who burn a relatively even mix  of sugar and fat. They have a more balanced hormonal makeup between stress hormones and fat storing hormones. Finally on the other end there are the muscle  burners, who also run primarily off sugar, yet prefer to derive this  fuel by converting amino acids from muscle into sugar.  This is because they are stress hormone dominant which results in conversion of their own muscle tissue into glucose for fuel. They are less reliant on food for this reason and can usually go without food without difficulty. Finding your unique fat loss formula requires an understanding of which of these types you more  closely resemble so that you have a starting point to begin the journey of body change.

A little More on the Burner Types

Sugar burners are more insulin dominant compared to other types and  easily become insulin insensitive. This requires the body to produce more and  more insulin over time. Insulin is a hormone that sends a signal to store fat and also decreases the release of fat from fat tissue.  This is largely the results of its stimulatory and inhibiting impact on the enzymes lipoprotein lipase (LPL) and hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) respectively.

Muscle burners  also run their engines off of sugar, but they are more stress hormone  dominant than insulin dominant. In others words, they have higher  resting levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These  hormones raise blood sugar by breaking down stored glycogen, but also cause the body to release amino acids from muscle tissue to make  sugar in a process called gluconeogenesis (i.e. generating new glucose).  Although it is not universally true, sugar burners tend to be overweight while  muscle burners tend to be thinner and more flabby. As the metabolic  dysfunction of each type worsens they can easily start to resemble each other. In other words, it is wrong to think all muscle burners must be thin and flabby.  Some can be quite obese.

Muscle burners can indeed become fat, although thinner and flabby, a term  many call “skinny fat”, is also very prevalent.  An obese muscle burner, is less common, but will hold most of their fat in their midsection (central obesity) while the  obese sugar burner will store the fat more globally. A good rule of  thumb to tell these two obese types apart is to observe their  extremities.  Sugar burners will have fat bulbous calves and  forearms  and look a little more “solid” or “formed”…..sort of “stay puffed marshmallow” looking.  While muscle burner’s calves  and forearms will be leaner in comparison to the rest of their body and  they will suffer from a more “flabby obesity”. When muscle burner types get obese they can often have large protruding bellys but look almost normal everywhere else. Look for tricep muscles that sag or lose skin around the elbows and knees as well as most fat storage around the midsection. Some overweight muscle  burners actually maintain fairly small and lean arms and legs.

Mixed burners are right in the middle and can be nudged toward the  sugar burner side of the equation if they overindulge in carbs and fat.  At the same time, they can also be pulled to the muscle burner side  if they are overexposed and/or acutely reactive to stress. Mixed burners  have a much easier time making body change because they usually have athletic and muscular builds. These types are those who will usually respond to any change in diet for a short period of time.  But chronic dieting, overeating, and lack of exercise causes them to lose muscle and develop dysfunctional metabolisms. Most people, and almost all younger people, are mixed burners.  This percentage changes as we age. When  stress and poor eating habits catch up with people, they begin to move  toward the muscle or sugar burner category. It is important to remember here that these are simply clinical designations and not meant to define exact metabolic tendencies. In other words, the metabolism is not static and there is no such thing as a pure “metabolic type”.

Carbohydrates & Burner Types

Now that you understand the burner types, it is time to discuss  carbohydrates. Carbs are one of the body’s chief energy sources, but  carbohydrates are also more than fuel, they send information to the body  in the form of hormonal influences. Understanding these hormonal  messages help you know where to start. Sugar burners, those who struggle  with their weight and tend to be more globally overweight, need to  control carbs more then any other type. This is because carbohydrates are the major stimulator of  the hormone insulin which is already an issue for them. Therefore,  sugar burners should start with lower amounts of carbs. We usually keep  them  to 10g to 15g of carbs at each of the three major meals. With protein and vegetables and   little to no carb at snacks. The range has to do with carb quality. The  “whiter” the carb, (i.e. white rice, white pasta, white bread, sweets,  cookies, etc), the less carb they are instructed to eat.  The more whole  the starch, (i.e. whole grain bread, high fiber cereal, potatoes  including their skins, beans, squashes etc), the more or higher range of  starch allowed.

Muscle burners need a little more carbs then the other types.  This is often confusing for people,  but remember the primary hormonal dysfunction in this group comes from  stress hormones.  These stress hormones are released mainly to raise  blood sugar levels.  By supplying more carbs to these types, we are  effectively preempting this entrained stress hormone release. The best  way to oppose the action of stress hormones is to throw enough glucose  & insulin in the mix to control the blood sugar, but not so much to  throw things further out of balance. In other words, they can’t go overboard with carbs, but also should not reduce them too low. We usually recommend these types  take in between 20g to 50g of carb at each major meal. This is a very  wide range of carb intake and muscle burners often have the most  difficult time finding the optimal carb level and controlling this “stress response”.

The adrenal stress  reactions they have can be unpredictable and influenced by many things,  therefore muscle burners have to often work harder than any other type to balance starch and  other metabolic influences. This more difficult metabolic response in muscle burners comes from the fact that stress hormones not only raise blood sugar levels, but can also disrupt insulin metabolism and when that mechanism is pushed too far, it is very difficult to tell a muscle burner from and sugar burner. Muscle burner snacks usually focus exclusively on  protein and fiber, but they often need small amounts of starch at snacks as well.

Mixed burners fall in the middle with a carb intake range between 15g  and 30g at each major meal. Carbohydrates for mixed burners can be  looked at strictly as fuel.  The tendency of mixed burner’s to stress more  or overeat more is a good predictor of whether they should eat more or less  carbs. If they are more stress driven, they may need more carbs.  If they are more food driven they should eat less carbs and instead do more protein based foods. Carb timing works very well in mixed burners and is an excellent strategy for them.  When after fat loss, carb intakes that are greater in the morning and post-workout do very well for mixed burners.

Types are Just a Starting Point

The important thing to remember is that the burner types are just a starting point. Too often, people get caught in the dieting mindset. In other words, they determine their burner type and follow that diet prescription to the letter. This is the wrong approach. The burner types are simply a blueprint from which to start. They are not meant to be followed like a diet and they are not exact. These types do not represent any form of exact science, but rather are a clinical tool only. They are much like the old designations of ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. Once you understand your burner type, you are not meant to stay there.  Instead, you should begin the process of finding your unique fat loss formula.

This process involves listening to your body’s hormonal biofeedback signals.  These signals include hunger, cravings and energy. The idea is to follow the given burner type plan, and then begin to pay close attention to these physiological sensations. They will guide you on how to adjust the diet specifically for you. As you go through the  program, you’ll pay close attention to hunger, cravings and energy after each meal. You don’t have to write these sensations down, but simply pay attention to how you feel after each meal. The correct hormonal meal will leave you so that you have no cravings, are not hungry and have high energy.

This is the first step. Once all these hormonal feedback signals are balanced, you then begin to track your body fat percent using a fat loss monitor. Many of these fat loss monitors can be found over-the-counter. These monitors are what are called bioelectrical impedance machines. While these machines are not 100% accurate, they do provide a repeatable body fat measure to keep track of progress. In other words they will tell you if you are heading in the right direction or not. You cannot use a traditional scale in the fat loss lifestyle, it simply will tell you nothing and have you confused about what is happening.

If hunger cravings and energy are balanced and you are losing fat, then you have found your fat loss formula. There is no need to change anything. If however, your hunger, cravings and energy levels are balanced and you are not losing fat then you will need to make some adjustments. This involves manipulating the carbohydrate content of the diet first. The first thing to do is to decrease your carbohydrate amounts at each meal. For example, if you were using 10 to 20g of carbohydrate at each meal and you are not getting the fat loss results you want then you reduce the amount to 5 to 15g at each meal. While you are reducing your carb amounts, you continue to monitor hunger, cravings and energy levels as well as body fat percent. At this point you should notice changes in body fat percent. If you do not you continue to decrease the carb content of the diet while also monitoring hunger, cravings and energy levels as well as body fat percent. At some point you will find the correct carbohydrate tipping point (maybe follow link after passage) for you and begin seeing results. (* note: one of the biggest mistakes people make is cutting carbs and forgetting to raise protein and fiber at the same time.  If you just cut carbs and don’t then raise protein and fiber you will not be able to manage the hunger, cravings and energy effectively.)

On occasion hunger, cravings and energy levels will not be balanced yet you will still be losing body fat percent. While this is not a bad thing, it signals to your body that you are not on the fat lost track. In other words these results will likely not be sustainable. This is what the standard dietary practices do. In this scenario, you are simply relying on willpower. The fact that hunger, cravings and energy are out of whack, tells you your hormones are not balanced and sustaining the current regime is unlikely.

There are times when decreasing the carbohydrate content will result in changes in cravings,  hunger or energy levels yet there will be no drop in body fat. This is a good clue the carbohydrate intake is not the problem. At this point you should work to increase protein and fiber through vegetable intake, as well as look for other foods, such as dairy and/or gluten containing grains, that may be impairing your results. These foods are almost always fruit, dairy, too  much fat from nuts and seeds and/or too many starchy grains. This is a key difference in the Metabolic Effect’s body change system. It is important to realize, certain foods may work great in some people,  but not others. Hence the acronym ME. Often times, people will need to adjust carbohydrate, protein and fiber intake and then worked diligently to find other foods that may be slowing their results.

Final Thoughts

Many people think that diets don’t work. At Metabolic Effect we would agree with this statement. Except we would revise this statement to say one-size-fits-all diets don’t work. For any diet you can name, you will find somebody who it worked for. It doesn’t matter if it’s the grapefruit diet, a raw foods diet, weight watchers or any other kind of diet, you can find people who do well on these diets. We are attempting to make two important distinctions with Metabolic Effect.  First is the idea that it is most important to find a diet suited  to your unique genetic, metabolic, and psychological sensitivities. Second, it is important to measure the right thing.  Weight loss and fat loss are not the same.  Metabolic Effect is a fat loss program.  A diet that helps you lose weight but makes you more fat in the end may have appeared to have worked in the short term, but actually makes things worse over the long run.

The burner type designations are meant to help you find a good starting point from which to begin to decipher how your metabolism works.  From there you measure fat loss and metabolic feedback signals (hunger, cravings and energy) so that you get results. The power lies in this process.  Your metabolism will and does change.  Pregnancy, menopause, andropause, times of stress etc all result in metabolic changes that may or may not correct on their own. By understanding the Metabolic Effect diet process you will always have the tools to lose fat no matter what is happening with your metabolism. In other words, the burner type means nothing without the process.  In reality, if you do the program correctly, you should end up at your own unique metabolic burner type.


Now Find Your Burner Type


Click on the link below to take the questionnaire. The answer should give you a good estimation of what burner type you are and to what degree.

ME Questionnaire

Burner Type Information


Use the following links to find how you can tailor your meals to suit your burner type. Each guide will include a visual representation of what your typical plate should consist of. Once you put this into application, you can use the mood guide to modify your intake to perfectly tailor your diet. the end results will be a personal nutrition pattern that you can use tom achieve your peak physical condition, for the rest of your life.

Sugar Burner Type

Muscle Burner Type

Mixed Burner Type


A Conclusion?

Absolutely not, this is the start of something amazing. Once you have successfully tailored your diet you can be safe in the knowledge that you are way way way ahead of the pack. Almost 100% of the population don’t know what you now know about yourself… and that’s “exactly what fuels you”. You can follow this same eating pattern any time you want to lose a few pounds of bodyfat, at no risk to your metabolism. Congratulations.