Friday, January 6, 2012

Optimized Fat Metabolism (OFM) - Introduction



Over the last year I've had a lot of people asking me about VESPA and what makes it so different than other supplements on the market. I have a basic understanding of the product but I have limited understanding of the science behind it so I've asked the man behind VESPA, Peter Defty, to help explain why VESPA works so well and explain it in a way that it makes sense to everyone. I know this can get rather lengthy so Peter will break this down into a couple of informative posts over the next couple of months.

From Peter:
With 2012’s racing season on the spring horizon many of you are looking to January as a time to ease into your training, fueled mainly by guilt from the Holiday over-indulgence. This is still an off period for many but the most serious, yet this “off” period has a vital role in the overall human performance paradigm. Not having to manage a tight schedule of training and competition let alone making our athletic passion fit in with the rest of our busy lives has several benefits both physically and mentally.

The off-season is also a great opportunity to evaluate what we are doing in our training and racing and, thus, consider changes. Most often these changes are incremental as we gain experience and knowledge, however, at times, a paradigm-shifting concept occurs and the world is not the same. So, as you now consider shedding those few extra pounds of body fat you’ve picked up since the end of the racing season have you ever wondered why so much effort and discussion has been placed around utilizing carbohydrates as an energy source and so little around fat?...after all, even the leanest of triathletes has more than ample body fat to easily complete an Ironman.
OFM represents such a paradigm shift and the absolute best time for an athlete to consider making that fundamental physiological shift to “fat as fuel” is now before the training load ramps up.
A few, triathletes and their coaches (Trish Deim being one) are well-aware of the importance of improving fat burning. Mark Allen and Dr. Phil Maffetone, using “The Maffetone Method”, demonstrated how training to burn significantly more fat during aerobic exercise created a string of Kona victories. Today, coaches like Bob Seebohar and Ben Greenfield, are writing and talking about the importance of fat metabolism. So, you may be wondering, “What is so paradigm-shifting about OFM?”
OFM integrates diet/fueling, training, rest/recovery, and lifestyle with the all-natural supplement, VESPA, to make a fundamental physiological shift to metabolizing fat as the primary and preferred aerobic energy source. What sets OFM apart are three things:
1) Not only does fat become the primary aerobic energy source, but saturated Fats, the most calorically dense nutritional energy source, are a key component and not the health demon they have been made out to be.
2) OFM challenges the conventional carbohydrate centric approach toward athletic performance and human health using latest in cutting edge nutritional and physiological science to help guide the on-going program.
3) OFM does NOT eliminate carbohydrates but makes “strategic” use of concentrated sources of carbohydrates. Additionally, how the athlete consumes their concentrated forms of carbs is very important to the OFM program. Through OFM, carbs are actually utilized more effectively and efficiently to yield sustainable high-level performance while minimizing oxidative stress.
OFM is NOT a Low-Carb diet though many principles used in OFM are taken from research in Low-Carbohydrate dietary regimens, including Nutritional Ketosis (not to be confused with keto-acidosis). OFM is not exactly a Paleo Diet because, in many cases, people can tolerate certain dairy products and other foods prohibited by hard-core Paleo advocates.  After all, we want to make this as doable as possible in the context of modern life. 
Bear in mind much of the Paleo Diet material out there is what I term “PC Paleo” because the “F” word for Fat is not mentioned yet clearly comprised most of the calories consumed in Paleolithic times (this will be discussed in a separate post). Especially for endurance athletes adding calories in the form of fat as training load rise is crucial to success.
Another divergence form much of the Paleo community is OFM does include lots of cardio training with some higher intensity training. When burning fat as the primary aerobic energy source cardio provides nothing but benefits, it is when burning glucose that long cardio workouts have some issues.
So, Why OFM?
Consider for a moment some basic facts: The human body stores a tremendous amount of calories as fat while very limited quantities as glycogen. Even the leanest athlete has more than enough calories of fat to complete an Ironman, run a 100K, or ride a double century. Yet most sports nutrition has focused upon greater and greater carbohydrate use and thus, dependence upon glycogen storage and exogenous intake of “easily” digested complex carbohydrates and simple sugars.
Next consider that humans, for most of our existence, were hunter/gatherers and nomadic herdsman who could not rely upon a constant supply of carbohydrates and simple sugars for energy yet had to be physically fit and alert to survive. Anthropological studies strongly suggest “primitive” man was as fit, if not fitter, than today’s elite athletes [i][ii] all on a dietary intake which was, for most of the year, low in concentrated carbohydrate sources…so, what was their fuel?…fat!
In light of these physiological and anthropological facts it only makes sense the human body should actually prefer to metabolize fat as aerobic energy and reserve glucose and glycogen as a “fight or flight” fuel. Guided by integrating the latest science, OFM offers a pathway to get the athlete back to this natural state and reap the performance and health benefits it offers.
In upcoming posts we will be breaking OFM / VESPA program down into various areas relevant to the athlete so they can understand the science and physiology behind the concepts presented then be able to effectively implement OFM principles into their life. The goal is to explain, in layperson’s terms, the basics of some very complex physiology to better understand how the human body works. While much of what we will be posting will heretically counter conventional sports nutrition concepts the information is based upon sound science. Much of this science is actually non-controversial and generally accepted among health professionals, however, there exists a disconnect when it applies to sports nutrition.