This is a review of the Metabolic Factor program.
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that my metabolism doesn’t respond the way it used to. This is normal as we age, I know. But I have to admit I could probably be, well, more supportive of my metabolic health.
The trouble is, I often question what I know. Eating right and exercising sounds easy until you’re confronted with a million choices. Plus, I’m simply too busy to plot out a whole new lifestyle.
A lot of the Metabolic Factor program seems scientifically sound. It includes common-sense advice health professionals generally agree on.
However, this program gives you LOTS of structure. It tells you what needs to change, and exactly how to do it. It’s a crash course on the human metabolism, hormones, and everything we do wrong when it comes to diet and exercise.
Whether you’re workout-obsessed, constantly exhausted, or both, the Metabolic Factor presents solutions. It skips trendy fad ingredients and weird techniques.
Be warned: it challenges you to change your long-term behavior.
Keep reading to learn more about my experience with the Metabolic Factor.
What exactly is the Metabolic Factor program?
The Metabolic Factor is a 22-day lifestyle program with detailed schedules, menus, and routines.
You won’t want to miss what I have to tell you later about the Five Pathways to an Optimal Fat-Burning Metabolism. It’s key to the program, and it’s why I call the Metabolic Factor a lifestyle program, not just a diet.
But for right now, check this out.
Many women have been unintentionally suppressing the most important fat-burning hormone of them all – insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1).
The Metabolic Factor promises to teach us how to increase the production of this youth-providing hormone. It’s a natural strategy for boosting energy, losing extra weight, and generally increasing our overall sense of wellbeing.
Who is behind the Metabolic Factor?
The Metabolic Factor was developed by Dr. Jonny Bowden, Ph.D. In addition to being a board-certified nutritionist, he has a Master’s degree in psychology.
Dr. Bowden’s offerings do not begin and end with the Metabolic Factor. He’s written a dozen books and cookbooks on healthy living and has appeared on television and in print media hundreds of times.
How does the Metabolic Factor work?
Like many programs, the Metabolic Factor begins with a quiz.
It won’t take but a minute and the questions are easy. The only hard part will be answering them with TOTAL honesty.
Remember your results!
We’ll go over what they mean in a sec. Before that, it helps to know what the Metabolic Factor is really all about – increasing your MAT.
Introducing Metabolically Active Tissue (MAT)
Most of us have heard about the pitfalls of SAD – the Standard American Diet.
We have become reliant on processed foods and sugars.
It’s this diet that increases our risk for diabetes, obesity, and more.
The Metabolic Factor addresses the SAD, but it wants us to keep our eye on the positive – MAT (metabolically active tissue).
The SAD way of life means we are more likely to rely on insulin for energy.
The problem is that when insulin levels are too high for too long, it leads to weight gain and health complications.
When you choose a lifestyle that activates IGF-1, the cells in your body use that for energy instead of feeding on insulin nonstop.
IGF-1 enhances your MAT, and that’s where the fat burning kicks in. Melting pounds is one thing, but your MAT includes essential organs and bones. IGF-1 can help take nutrients from the fat to feed your MAT.
That would explain the mood-improving, vitality-increasing, youth-extending claims the program makes.
I didn’t consider MAT when I thought about muscle tone or losing 10 pounds. This clear-cut information was motivating for me. I had a biological goal instead of just digesting vague (and frankly boring) concepts like “eat clean and exercise.”
Consider Your Fat Burning Type
After our brief new education on metabolism, we’re ready to learn more about the results of our quiz.
At the end of your quiz, you were told if you were a Level 1, 2, 3, or 4 fat burner. Here’s what that means.
You could be a Level 1 fat burner who mostly runs on sugar. This is where the MAT is at its lowest.
One telltale sign of being a Level 1 is if you have particular areas you think are fattier, such as the hips or outer thighs.
Level 2 is unfortunately not much different from Level 1. These folks still only burn 20% of their calories from fat.
Level 3 is much better. At this stage, you’re burning 40% of your calories from fat.
At Level 4, our metabolisms are running optimally. Roughly 90% of our calories are burned from fat.
Think you could never be a Level 4?
The Metabolic Factor tosses that notion right out of the window. We were all born Level 4s. It comes down to activating the MAT with IGF-1.
Optimizing Your IGF-1 Hormone
At this point in the program, I had a crash course on metabolism and an honest picture of where my body currently was.
Now, we get down to brass tacks.
The goal is to ascend fat-burning levels, and this is done by optimizing IGF-1 hormones. However, I soon learned that it’s not all about what foods to eat and how much exercise you get.
There are three more areas that the Metabolic Factor asks you to pay strict attention to.
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Five Pathways to an Optimal Fat-Burning Metabolism
In my opinion, the Five Pathways are what the Metabolic Factor is all about. The pathways include areas of life we overlook when we start whatever weight loss journey catches our attention that season.
Pathway #1: Nutrition
You probably want to know the same thing I did.
What’s the deal with the diet? What are they asking you to eat?
The Metabolic Factor is a carb-controlled diet with an emphasis on whole foods and protein shakes. You eat three times a day and do not snack.
It’s NOT a no-carb diet. A few days of the month, you’re encouraged to eat plenty of carbs.
I’ll tell you more about the food a little later. Just know that there are tons of options with lots of common, easy-to-find foods. It’s not as boring nor as exotic as I feared it might be.
Pathway #2: Sleep
This one worried me a lot since I have a history of insomnia. Was I supposed to start getting better sleep just because they told me to?
In actuality, the Metabolic Factor asks you to add more rest slowly, incrementally. Ultimately, it was easier than I thought.
The Metabolic Factor Blueprint features a treasure trove of information and research on sleep with reliable advice on improving sleep quality.
The program does a great job of explaining how these kinds of lifestyle improvements add up to weight loss, energy, and total-body recovery.
The next pathway, however, might be the biggest gamechanger.
Pathway #3: Stress
Constant stress releases too much of a hormone called cortisol, which increases inflammation and sometimes, abdominal fat.
The first way the Metabolic Factor addresses this is with simple breathing exercises.
I have to admit I rolled my eyes at that one – at first. After giving it an honest try, I realized I had been breathing wrong!
My breath was too shallow due to my poor posture. My poor posture was due in part to the stress tension I was feeling.
With regular practice of the breathing exercise included in the Quick Start Guide, plus the tips in the Blueprint, I enjoyed massive improvements in the quality of my breath.
If you’re super stressed, as so many of us are, I completely understand if you’re skeptical about simple breathing as a way to reduce serious stress.
But it’s for real, and you have nothing to lose by trying it (and sticking with it).
Pathway #4: Detoxification
“Detoxing” as a trend emerged a decade or two ago to mixed reactions from scientists and physicians. Your organs naturally detoxify the body.
You don’t need juice fasts, special cleanses, or pills.
I like evidence-based recommendations, so I paid close attention to the detox advice in both the Quick Start Guide and The Blueprint.
Fortunately, they didn’t contain anything I found really questionable. Most detox advice you’ll find here involves warm baths, which are also great for stress and sleep. It also encourages us to think more carefully about what we buy and choose quality protein sources.
Some of the detox advice seems optional and I didn’t follow it to the letter. However, I would follow the recommendations for baths and protein sources.
Pathway #5: Exercise
I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent years cycling through every exercise trend there is – sometimes literally. If you have a stationary bike gathering dust in the basement, you’re not alone.
I braced myself for this pathway, dreading the instructions for unlimited burpees, sprints, and what the program calls “circus” workouts.
However, I was pleasantly surprised. The only real demand the Metabolic Factor makes is that you get 10,000 steps a day. If you want to ramp things up, you can add some interval training.
So, if you have a pedometer watch or app, you’re ready to begin exercising with the Metabolic Factor. That’s it!
Metabolic Factor: Pros and Cons
After following the program as best I could, here are some pros and cons of the Metabolic Factor.
- Tons of information (with references, many scientific) explaining how it works and why the program is laid out the way it is.
- Addresses cornerstones of long-term health, not just weight loss. The shift in mood and energy levels can be more life-changing than losing weight. I think this program can help some people improve their self-esteem regardless of their size.
- It’s very specific. It provides your entire menu complete with recipes and shopping lists. There are weekly checklists to complete to ensure you’re hitting every mark, saving a lot of time.
- It doesn’t ask you to spend money on things you don’t need. You won’t need special workout equipment and you are not “required” to buy supplements, though suggestions are made. You will have to buy healthy foods (available at most grocery stores) and find a good protein powder.
- It takes a lot of discipline. The Metabolic Factor is best for people who have already made a firm decision to change their lifestyle. It does not waste time trying to hype the reader up, so if willpower is an issue, there will likely be false starts.
- It may pose a problem for people on certain diets. It’s not created for vegans or vegetarians, although you can adapt some of the recipes.
- It is low carb. Cutting carbs is a non-starter for some people. As I told you before, the Metabolic Factor does allow “carb feasts” a few times a month. But if you count on carbs daily, this will be a struggle.
- Initial results can be misleading. Many people who start diets like this lose motivation once they stop losing as much weight as they did the first two weeks. Over the long term, the plan is designed to help you lose a pound or two a week.
What People Are Saying: Results from the Metabolic Factor Program
Poke around online and you’ll find some people who have had really impressive results.
One reviewer lost more than 100 pounds following the program for over a year.
Another reviewer marveled that they were able to build strength and tone up – in their 60s!
But as expected, it’s not for everyone. One reviewer thought that the plan asked them to consume too much protein.
Another reviewer had doubts about IGF-1 and fat burning, although they did admit that the research was promising.
Ultimately, eating plenty of vegetables and moving your body every day is good for you! The Metabolic Factor makes it clear that results vary based on your age, gender, and starting weight.
The Quick Start Guide
The Quick Start Guide is included to break down the basics of the program. It explains the Five Pathways I shared with you and presents your weekly checklists.
I recommend starting the program right here. Before I commit to anything, I like an overview of what I can expect, and this 11-page guide is perfect for that.
In fact, if you wanted to start the program that same day, you’d probably have enough information to do it.
The checklists are the most important part of the guide. No matter how much time you decide to spend reviewing the Quick Start Guide, grab those and start using them.
The Metabolic Factor 10-Minute Meals
The program includes a 70-page recipe book, starting with your shopping lists. There are three weekly lists and three weekly meal plans.
From there, it’s onto the recipes.
In the meal plans, breakfast will always be a shake. However, there are a few breakfast recipes for solid foods if you’re not in the mood for a shake every single day.
What I appreciate most about the breakfast shake chapter is that Dr. Bowden encourages you to try something he calls a “Roll Your Own” shake. He shows you how to invent your OWN completely custom favorite smoothie recipe.
That said, I loved his recipe for the Cherry Amaretto Shake. I thought I would be unhappy skipping my usual yogurt, fruit, and granola, but this was even better.
The lunch and dinner chapters feature recipes you’ll love whether or not you stick to the program after the first 22 days.
I’m no longer on the exact meal plan, but I’m still making the Mediterranean Frittata, California Salad, Lemony Asparagus, and Turkey Chili.
Included are recipes for periodic “carb feasts”, which are essentially cheat meals with a purpose. There are desserts such as cheesecake and lava cake, and entrees like pasta bolognese and barbecue burgers.
On the whole, 10-Minute Meals shows you exactly how to plan, purchase, prepare, and enjoy a colorful diet. Eating fruits and vegetables in a range of colors means that you are getting a diverse and complete array of antioxidant phytonutrients.
10-Minute Meals turns out to be a pretty honest title, although some of the dinner recipes do take a bit longer. I didn’t love every single recipe, but you will find a lot of wholesome and satiating dishes that sincerely taste great.
The Metabolic Factor Progress Tracker
While one of its main purposes is to help people burn fat, the Metabolic Factor does not place a lot of importance on scales or BMI.
This is great news for those of us that can have our day ruined by a number on the scale.
The Progress Tracker helps you celebrate your wins. In the tracker, you’ll assess things like how much energy you have, how you slept, your mood, and cravings.
You’ll realize how much healthier you’re getting even when you’re not “feeling thin.”
The Seven Most Powerful IGF-1 Supplements
As I told you, getting results from the Metabolic Factor doesn’t require supplements.
But many of us like taking supplements! I know I do. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for new information about which supplements are actually effective.
This short guide simply lists supplements that can be supportive in your efforts to boost IGF-1. My two favorites are cinnamon and green tea extract. That’s right – cinnamon and green tea! Nothing strange or ridiculously expensive, but highly beneficial nonetheless.
As always, there are plenty of references, including scientific literature, for the discerning reader.
The Five Worst Exercise Mistakes
Did you know that exercise can damage your metabolism? It’s no wonder that some people work out, but don’t lose weight.
This short guide describes exactly why and how to fix it.
I won’t spoil it all, but here’s a teaser.
Your workouts are too long.
Spending hours in the gym trying to erase a bunch of calories can release too much cortisol. When cortisol is high, it suppresses IGF-1 and increases your cravings for unhealthy foods.
Don’t skip this guide.
The Top IGF-1 Trigger Foods
In this instance, triggering is a good thing.
Think of it as a Master List of Healthy Eating. Foods, drinks, and spices that support your IGF-1-boosting efforts.
The Top IGF-1 Trigger Foods includes photos and describes the health benefits of 50 foods. There are whole foods like olives, apples, and peppers, as well as things that we might consider indulgent, like coffee and dark chocolate.
The Metabolic Factor Blueprint
In my opinion, The Metabolic Factor Blueprint is where much of the program’s value is.
It’s a full 135-page book with entire chapters on the science of fat burning, succeeding at the Five Pathways, and continuing your healthy lifestyle after you’re done with the program.
If nothing else, study the Five Pathways section closely. It contains sound advice for healing, from proper sleep hygiene and self-acceptance to learning how to fill life with hobbies you enjoy.
You’ll even find a Body Shape Test and learn how to calculate your SHMEC (Sleep, Hunger, Mood, Energy, and Cravings). That will make it much easier to work on the Progress Tracker.
Even those who don’t want to stick to this program can learn a lot from The Metabolic Factor Blueprint.
Metabolic Motivation Emails
As I told you, this is a program for people who are ready to make changes.
You won’t be coddled into eating broccoli or skipping snacks.
However, for the duration of the program, you can receive daily emails to help keep you on track. Dr. Bowden provides tips, reminders, and yes, some encouragement on your journey.
Weekly Coaching Calls With Dr. Bowden
Each week of the program features a call with Dr. Bowden.
These calls address many common questions about things like macros, exercise, and junk food withdrawals.
Other Metabolic Factor Products
The Metabolic Factor program – as I experienced it – was very detailed and complete.
But as with every other lifestyle, there’s always more to learn, see, and buy.
Again, you don’t need these items to see success with the Metabolic Factor. You might consider them if you’re dead-set on optimal results, though.
Metabolic Super Protein
This is a good pick if you want to take the guesswork out of buying a quality protein powder. It’s from grass-fed protein sources and includes collagen.
Metabolic Fire is a supplement containing roots and extracts which are alleged to help increase MAT.
53 Fat-Burning Recipes
If you finish this program and want to continue with the lifestyle, don’t get stuck in a food rut. Mix it up with even more Metabolic Factor-friendly recipes for a lifetime of healthier living.
My Final Verdict
This is not a trendy diet. I think the Metabolic Factor has the potential to be relevant and effective for decades, or longer.
It is a diet that emphasizes fruits and vegetables and encourages us to be critical of the source of our food. It does not ask you to work out like crazy, take funny pills, or eat the same things over and over.
In fact, it seldom even talks about calories.
Most importantly, it sets you up for lifetime success. The principles here, from more veggies to better sleep, do indeed increase vitality.
It would be an ideal “reset” for those looking to heal the effects of a bad diet coupled with stress.
Or, as in my case, women who are managing a changing metabolism.
Long, sweaty runs or hours on gym equipment can be just as bad for our metabolisms as the wrong foods or crash diets.
With the Metabolic Factor, there’s discipline, not deprivation. Check it out for yourself and see what you learn that could be life-changing.
Miranda loves outdoor activities like hiking, bike riding and swimming. With over 10 years of healthy living, she loves researching and testing new health products and enjoys writing about her experiences. Miranda is also the Editor and Contributor for EWS website.