METS II Spotlight: Caroline Kavanagh
Caroline Kavanagh | Sep 10, 2018
I became a Metabolic Efficiency Training Specialist (METS) six years ago which coincided with the founding of my company, InsideOut. The goal being to test (via metabolic cart) and then guide athletes with the proper protocol given their individual goals and needs to become metabolically efficient.
As most athletes are familiar with, there are phases to physical training termed "periodization" cycles. Metabolic Efficiency Training pairs the athletes physical training cycle with their nutrition periodization plan. This suggests athletes align their daily nutritional needs to their physical training output. Therefore the macronutrient intake fluctuates, in greater or lesser amounts coinciding with higher or lower volume and intensity training. Also taken into account are the athletes health, body weight, and body composition goals.
Improving performance is the goal of many athletes and in endurance sports the primary nutrition limiter is glycogen depletion. If you can preserve glycogen stores by utilizing more fat as energy during exercise, you will improve your results. Not only can you increase your body’s ability to burn fat at lower intensities but also at higher ones.
But you don’t have to be an endurance athlete to reap the benefits of metabolic efficiency. It is a way of eating that works for everyone! It truly can change your life and free you of the roller coaster rides up and down those weight scale tracks. I am one of those people who have to “do it” myself in order to truly know and understand if something will work. I either hit the wall and crash, or break through it! I can be at times my own worst enemy or simply a guinea pig. Therefore I will share with you my story and hopefully if you are like me, save you some time in the process.
As a young teen I was a high performing athlete with my sport of choice being field hockey. Just out of high school I was fortunate enough to make the development process “cuts” that led me to the Olympic Trials at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. It was the summer of 1980, and an Olympic Games year, so the final traveling US Olympic Field Hockey team had limited slots, at the tender age of seventeen I just missed making the team by one person. Ouch! But I was young and amped and looking forward to entering college and feeling ready to compete on an athletic scholarship, at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst on their Division 1 Field Hockey Team. At that time the team was one of the top-rated teams in the country with a few Olympic athletes already on the team. I was honored and challenged to compete at such a high level of play.
My other interest and talent was in the art world, so after college I moved to New York City and had a long career of working in the fast-paced world of graphic design. It was over these ensuing years, with never-ending tight deadlines to meet, combined with long hours of endless desk sitting that gradual deconditioning set in. I did my best to continue with a little running (to the subway) and threw in some tennis at Central Park on weekends but I was feeling progressively more and more tired. My mantra had become, “I’m so tired!”
My younger sister must have grown “tired” of hearing my “tired” mantra! She took matters into her own hands and strategically signed me up for a sprint triathlon. She had done one of these races herself and assured me I would love it! Hmmm….. I was skeptical to say the least but confirmed my commitment to the training which we agreed at that time would simply be 15 minutes at a slow shuffle - I wouldn’t even say it was a jog as I could barely get my feet off the ground! Let’s just call it 15 minutes of movement! My new nutrition plan was to be a bottle of water a day. A big stretch for me at that time, as I don’t even want to tell you what I was eating!
Fast forward…… I completed the event and was hooked! Now there seemed a reason to get back into shape. Racing!
My youthful competitive spirit took hold and Metabolic Efficiency Training came into play. As I continued to train the “layer” of fat began to fall away but I still had those five niggly pounds to drop in order to run faster on the track. I came across Bob Seebohar's first edition book titled “Metabolic Efficiency Training, Teaching the Body to Burn Fat as Fuel.” I liked the subtitle but had no idea what the term Metabolic Efficiency Training entailed! I read the book and was able to grasp the nutrition principles and applied them loosely on myself…… the extra pounds simply fell off!
I was truly inspired by the results as it was so easy to implement. No restrictive calorie counting or deprivation involved! I have never been a “dieter” as anytime I tried to go on a diet I would gain weight. The thought of not being able to eat something made me crave it instead. Within the metabolic efficiency way of eating I was ingesting as much as I wanted and able to listen to my bodies natural satiety cues. I felt energized and wonderful. What I was doing was stabilizing my blood sugar so without the blood sugar spikes I wasn’t experiencing the lows. My “I’m so tired” mantra was no longer being uttered from my lips. I felt great for the first time in many years. I even fit into clothes I wore in high school! Who can say that?
Many folks began asking me how I got so lean? This is how my second career as a Metabolic Efficiency Training Specialist began. Or as I like to say, “fell into my lap!” My newfound wellness coupled with the desire to help others was now directing my forward path.
In my eagerness to learn more from the Sports Dietician who coined the term “metabolic efficiency,” I applied to Bob Seebohar’s Level 1 Metabolic Efficiency Training certification clinic. I was accepted into the clinic and curious to dig deeper into the science behind this life-changing way of eating. After the clinic I spoke with Bob briefly and he encouraged me to take the final exam and become certified. I did as he suggested and continued on to mentor with Bob, as my plan was to setup my own metabolic testing lab and business.
After working for two years in my InsideOut Lab as a Certified Level I METS, I was invited by Bob Seebohar to attend his Level II Certification clinic out in Colorado. I accepted the invitation and submitted my application. In these past four years as a Certified Level II METS, I have continued to test and work with numerous athletes. Their success is now my success! My goal is always to teach my clients what I have learned. I continue to be inspired by the power of proper nutrition and the bodies ability to revert to its homeostatic state is short of miraculous. I know because I did it myself! Remember, I am one of those people who needs to experience it myself to believe in its efficacy. When I first explain to a new client how to implement metabolic efficiency I often see facial expressions of disbelief or a comment along the lines of “you don’t understand, I eat candy corn!” Or this won’t work for me, I love sugar!” I always reply……”Do you have two weeks to give it shot?”
Every person is unique and the beauty of the incremental assessment is the ability to see what is going on inside the body. Many athletes are extremely inefficient at using their almost unlimited fat stores, approximately 80,000+ calories (30,000 - 50,000 calories for lean athletes) as energy during exercise and rely too much on very limited carbohydrate stores (1,200 - 2,000 calories). The purpose of metabolic efficiency training is to teach the body to tap into and burn this fat as fuel.
Even those who appear lean on the outside may in fact be inefficient at burning fat. More remarkably, the benefits of optimizing our body fat (especially around the mid-section) reduces many other health markers that can save us from all kinds of illnesses.
I start my clients with an incremental physiological assessment either on the treadmill or on the bike. This reveals how efficient their body is at utilizing their almost unlimited fat stores as energy. From the data collected via my gold standard metabolic cart (Parvomedics), also used at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, they receive customized nutrition and exercise recommendations based and focused on their individual goals.
I have a number of performance test option packages but I always set up a brief phone call with new clients to find out a bit more about them and their goals which helps to determine the best option moving forward. We also schedule their test date on the call.
My energy levels and competitive drive have yet to wane and I continue to compete in triathlons. In fact I have just returned from Age Group Nationals in Cleveland Ohio and qualified to race next year in Switzerland at the Age Group World Championships, 2019.