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An In-Depth Discussion of Metabolic Types and the Transition To Health

You will need to go through what I call the transition to restore your metabolism, achieve an ideal body composition and obtain optimum health. The transition is a journey of healing. You can only be in your transition if you are improving your nutrition and lifestyle habits.

During your transition your hormones will change in response to the nutrition and lifestyle changes you make and this allows you to heal. However, you will not have balanced hormones immediately—balanced hormones do not occur overnight. There are sequential steps of healing that everyone must take.

When you initiate your transition process by improving your habits, your body will begin to rebalance its hormones. Your body will also rebuild all its functional and structural biochemicals that were not made efficiently during your previous poor habits. The more damaged your current metabolism, the longer it will take for this process to be completed.

By taking the time to follow the necessary steps in the Schwarzbein Principle Program to balance your hormones, you will heal your metabolism. When you have healed your metabolism, you are primed to lose fat weight, if needed. Once you have lost all your stored fat, you are through your transition.

The Four Transition Stages

For most people, the transition to a healthy metabolism and optimal health consists of four main stages. Here is what you may expect as you journey through your transition to health. You begin at your initial starting point and then enter a healing phase that may consist of a self-medicating phase. Then you enter a fat burning phase, if you need to burn fat before you finally reach a healed state. Depending on your current metabolism, your body may skip the healing and/or fat-burning phases.

Let's look at each stage in more detail:

  1. Initial starting point
  2. Healing phase
  3. Fat-burning phase
  4. Healed state

The Initial Starting Point

The initial starting point is your current metabolism type and age when you start improving your habits and begin entering your transition. Listed to the right are the four metabolism types an individual can have.

  1. Insulin-sensitive with healthy adrenal glands
  2. Insulin-sensitive with burned-out adrenal glands
  3. Insulin-resistant with healthy adrenal glands
  4. Insulin-resistant with burned-out adrenal glands

These metabolism types are not genetic but acquired. Everyone begins life insulin-sensitive with healthy adrenal glands. It is only after years of poor nutrition and lifestyle habits that you may become insulin-resistant or have burned-out adrenal glands—or have both conditions.

Your age and how long you have had your current metabolism affect the duration of your transition. The older you are and the longer your metabolism has been damaged, the longer it will take for you to complete your transition.

Your Goal

Your goal is to stay or become insulin-sensitive and to have healthy adrenal glands or to heal them. Therefore, the goal metabolism to have is insulin sensitive with healthy adrenal glands.

If you are starting out with this metabolism, your transition to healing requires improving your daily habits to keep from damaging your metabolism.

If you start out insulin-resistant with healthy adrenal glands, your goal is to become insulin-sensitive and keep your adrenal glands healthy.

If your current metabolism is insulin-sensitive with burned-out adrenal glands, your goal is to stay insulin-sensitive and heal your adrenal glands.

If you are insulin-resistant with burned-out adrenal glands, you must heal both sides of your metabolism to reach your goal of insulin-sensitive with healthy adrenal glands.


It is normal to be insulin-sensitive. You are insulin-sensitive if your body responds to all the actions of insulin, including the ability to make and store fats.

The following is what happens when you eat carbohydrates if you are insulin sensitive:

  1. Sugar is taken up by your liver.
  2. Excess sugar in your liver is turned into triglycerides and cholesterol.
  3. Triglycerides and cholesterol are taken up by various cells of your body.
  4. Sugar is also taken up by your cells.
  5. When all the sugar and fats are in your cells, blood-sugar levels start to drop and insulin levels go back down.
  6. You eat again and the whole process starts all over

Note, however, that just as with insulin resistance, you can gain fat weight around your midsection when you are insulin-sensitive. Therefore, do not confuse having excess fat weight around your midsection with being insulin-resistant (see below).


Eventually, from sustained high levels of insulin, you become completely insulin-resistant. All your cells are completely overfilled with fats and sugar, and they barely respond to the action of insulin. At this point you usually have high triglyceride blood levels. (High triglyceride levels are not indicators of insulin resistance only. Smoking, stress, birth control pills and drinking alcohol can raise triglyceride levels in your bloodstream also, but that does not necessarily mean that you are insulin-resistant. Do not diagnose yourself as insulin-resistant from your triglyceride blood test alone.)

When you are insulin-resistant, you have high fasting insulin levels, you usually carry your excess fat weight around your midsection and you have one or more of the following symptoms or diseases.

  • Abnormal cholesterol profiles: High triglyceride levels with low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels and high apolipoprotein B levels.
  • Hypertension: Sustained high blood pressure.
  • Type II diabetes: Sustained high levels of sugar in the bloodstream.
  • Coronary atheroscelrosis: Plaques in the heart arteries which may cause a heart attack when they rupture.
  • Cerebral atheroscelrosis: Plaques in the brain which may cause a stroke when they rupture.
  • Cancers: Abnormal cell growth. Breast, prostate and colon cancers are the most common cancers associated with high insulin levels.
  • Stein Leventhal Syndrome (SLS): SLS is a female clinical condition of infertility (anovulatory menstrual cycles), acne and/or facial hair.

There are three paths that lead to insulin resistance:

  1. Years of high insulin levels due to poor nutrition and lifestyle habits.
  2. Years of high adrenaline and/or cortisol levels due to poor nutrition and lifestyle habits.
  3. Years of high insulin, adrenaline and cortisol levels due to poor nutrition and lifestyle habits.

If you recognize that you are on any of these paths, now is the time to change your habits!

Are you insulin-sensitive, insulin-resistant, or on the way to becoming insulin-resistant? Identify yourself here (check one):
___I am insulin-sensitive.

___I am insulin-sensitive on the way to insulin-resistance

___I am insulin-resistant.

___I am not sure, so I want to be tested; see Get Tested

Are Your Adrenal Glands Healthy or Burned Out?

Your adrenal glands make both adrenaline and cortisol. Years of over-secreting these two hormones can burn out your adrenal glands. If you have burned out your adrenal glands, you need to restore their function before you can achieve optimum health.

You have healthy adrenal glands if you can stop all your high adrenaline and/or cortisol habits cold turkey without experiencing withdrawal symptoms and completely falling apart emotionally and/or physically.

If you are addicted to white sugar, caffeine, nicotine, diet pills, alcohol, over-exercising and/or street drugs, or if you are always tired, have a "fuzzy" brain or cannot handle stressful situations, your adrenal glands are probably burned out or you are self-medicating to continue your high stress lifestyle.

Your adrenal glands are burned out if your adrenal saliva test shows low cortisol levels throughout the day.

Do you have healthy or burned-out adrenal glands? Are you on the path to burning them out? Identify yourself here (check one):

___I have healthy adrenal glands.

___I have healthy adrenal glands, but I am on a path to burning them out

___I have burned-out adrenal glands.

___I do not know so I want to be tested; see Testing

Now, put together your insulin status and your adrenal gland state to identify your current metabolism type (check one):

___I am insulin-sensitive and have healthy adrenal glands.

___I am insulin-sensitive and have burned-out adrenal glands.

___I am insulin-resistant and have healthy adrenal glands.

___I am insulin-resistant and have burned-out adrenal glands.

The Healing Phase

In the healing phase your body will repair itself from the damage caused previously by years of poor nutrition and lifestyle habits. You always have higher insulin than adrenaline/cortisol levels during this phase because this is a rebuilding time.

It may seem as if you are in suspended animation during this phase because though you are healing, it doesn’t feel or seem that way. As you improve your habits, you are rebuilding your biochemicals at a much higher rate than you are using them up, and this causes you to feel tired and to gain fat weight.

During the healing phase you expose your current metabolism because your hormones will react to your new and improved nutrition and lifestyle habits and reflect their true state.

If you are insulin sensitive, your insulin levels will fluctuate appropriately with your carbohydrate intake; if you are insulin resistant, your insulin levels will stay high while you are healing. For example, if you are insulin sensitive, your fasting insulin levels are within normal ranges, and when you eat carbohydrates, your levels rise to match your carbohydrate intake so your body can process the food. Once you process your food, your insulin levels come back down to normal.

But if you are insulin resistant, your fasting insulin levels are already higher than normal, and they will stay high even if you improve your eating habits until you have become insulin sensitive again.

If your adrenal glands are healthy, your adrenaline/ cortisol levels will respond appropriately to your habits.

If your adrenal glands are "burned out", your adrenaline/cortisol levels will stay low until your glands have had a chance to heal. You have worn them out and depleted their ability to respond as they would under normal circumstances

Here is what happens to your hormones during your healing phase
--depending upon your current metabolism

  1. If you are insulin sensitive with healthy adrenal glands, your hormones will immediately become balanced when you improve your habits; therefore, you are instantly through your healing phase. See Chapter 18 of The Schwarzbein Principle II for more information about your healing program.
  2. If you are insulin resistant with healthy adrenal glands, your insulin levels will remain high despite your improved habits until your body has a chance to heal and you become insulin sensitive again, but your adrenaline/cortisol levels will normalize immediately.See Chapter 19 of The Schwarzbein Principle II for more information about your healing program.
  3. If you are insulin sensitive with burned out adrenal glands, your insulin levels will respond appropriately to your improved habits, but your adrenaline and cortisol levels will stay low while your adrenal glands heal, but they will normalize when you have completely healed. See Chapter 20 of The Schwarzbein Principle II for more information about your healing program.
  4. If you are insulin resistant with burned out adrenal glands, your insulin levels will remain high, and your adrenaline/cortisol levels will remain low. As you heal, your insulin and adrenaline/cortisol levels will slowly normalize. See Chapter 21 of The Schwarzbein Principle II for more information about your healing program.

Unfortunately, your body will not start working efficiently the moment you improve your habits. As previously stated, you did not damage your metabolism overnight, and you will not heal it overnight. During the healing phase, you are still hormonally out of balance.

As your body begins to correct this imbalance, you may experience any number of disturbing symptoms. (The SPII individual program for your current metabolism type is designed to make your transition easier by minimizing these disturbing symptoms.)

For example, as your adrenaline/cortisol levels drop, you may feel withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, irritability and depression. As your insulin levels rise, you may gain fat weight and/or experience salt and water retention.

The more damaged your current metabolism is, the longer you will need to stay in the healing phase and the more fat your body produces. In fact, as your ratio of insulin to adrenaline/cortisol increases, your symptoms will worsen.

As awful as this may sound, this is your body’s only way to heal. So do not be put off by the healing phase—it is simply a reflection of the damage that came before it. Since insulin is a rebuilding hormone and adrenaline and cortisol are using up hormones, you can only heal from years of using up your biochemicals by rebuilding them — this means higher insulin to adrenaline/cortisol levels. Unfortunately, even though you begin to improve your habits, the damage has already been done by your previous poor habits. Therefore, you will not instantly reap the rewards of your better habits.

For example, when people stop smoking, they may gain a lot of fat weight and feel tired and listless. They usually tell me they never should have stopped smoking because now they feel lousy and are fat besides.

What they don't realize is that the only way their bodies can heal is by raising their insulin levels higher than their adrenaline levels, so they will gain fat weight as their bodies heal from years of smoking.

The damage occurred while they were smoking, not after they stopped. The only way to avoid having to heal from smoking is to never smoke in the first place.

If you are a smoker, the best thing you can do for your health is to quit and begin healing from years of using up your biochemicals more than rebuilding them from nicotine use.

The Self-Medicating Phase

Since your insulin levels must be higher than your adrenaline/cortisol levels to heal, it does not always feel very good to be in the healing phase of your transition. It is during this time that the self-medicating phase becomes important in keeping you on your path to restoring your metabolism.

In this phase you use one or more of the following to make yourself feel good enough to continue your healing process: small amounts of stimulants, alcohol and refined sugars. Over-exercising is also a form of self-medication. Self-medicating makes you feel better in the short-term because using up your biochemicals always feels better than rebuilding them.

In the self-medicating phase you still have higher insulin than adrenaline/cortisol levels, but you narrow the gap between your rate of rebuilding and using up. Your self-medicating habits raise your adrenaline/cortisol levels closer to your insulin levels, and you prolong your transition because self-medicating keeps you closer to your current metabolism than to your goal metabolism.

It is sometimes necessary to self-medicate to get through your transition, especially if you begin with burned out adrenal glands. The Schwarzbein Principle II outlines the best ways to self-medicate if you need to.

Do not make the mistake of thinking you are self-medicating if you have not changed any of your habits! You cannot "be good" part of the time and revert to your poor habits the rest of the time. If you over self-medicate and your adrenaline/cortisol levels get higher than your insulin levels, you will no longer be in your transition process, and you will continue to damage your metabolism.

The Fat-Burning Phase

The fat-burning phase of the transition occurs after your body has done all its rebuilding in the healing phase.

You begin your fat burning phase only after your hormones are completely normalized and your metabolism is healed. Only then is your body ready to burn off the rest of your stored fat if it needs to. All of your symptoms of fluctuating adrenaline, cortisol and/or insulin will be gone, and you will feel great. During this phase you will be rebuilding and using up your functional and structural biochemicals again at an equal rate.

The Healed State

The healed state is when all of your hormones are balanced, your metabolism has healed and you have achieved your ideal body composition. You are now through your transition. When you are in this state, you are rebuilding as many biochemicals as you are using up and have the lowest risk for the degenerative diseases of aging.

Timing is Everything

The time it takes to go through the transition is different for everyone. The transition to a healthy metabolism can occur very quickly, or it can take months or years to complete.

If you have a healthy metabolism, you will be able to complete your transition quickly once you change your nutrition and lifestyle habits. If you begin with a badly damaged metabolism, however, it may take you years to completely heal. But you can heal. It is never too late. You are closer than you think.

Why Haven't I Lost Weight Yet?

During the transition from a damaged metabolism to a healed one, you will become healthier—but you will not have the body composition you want right away. Why? Because you first need to heal your metabolism before you can achieve your ideal body composition. You need to be healthy to lose weight, not lose weight to be healthy. It is only when you have completely healed your metabolism that you are primed for losing all your excess storage fat.
Do not confuse losing weight according to the bathroom scale with losing excess fat weight. If you lose weight while your metabolism is still damaged you are not just losing storage fat—you are also losing your functional and structural proteins and fats and causing further damage to your metabolism. And since protein weighs more than fat, you may think that the lower number on the scale is a good thing when it is not.

The key to becoming and staying healthy is to burn off your storage fats while retaining your functional and structural proteins and fats.

It Takes Time to Heal

The time it takes to heal your metabolism is normal and unavoidable. You may as well start to heal now; there is no alternative. The sooner you start your transition, the sooner you will get through it and obtain optimum health.

For those of you who are starting off with a damaged metabolism, you cannot escape the time it takes to heal, but you will have the advantage of knowing what you need to do to shorten your transition time.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this web site has not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material provided in the Schwarzbein Principle web site is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health program.


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Thanks so much for posting this! It explains so much... I especially needed to learn about the adrenal system and hormonal balance. I'm pretty sure that I burned out my adrenals during undergrad and grad school.... Along with all the late nights when I couldn't sleep due to fasting.

That's why it's so important that Freelee and Harley promote getting plenty of sleep alongside all the rest of the lifestyle improvements.

think thats soo true such as an abundance of calories i mean monkeys eat a lot and sleep a lot too and we technically are monkeys just living in an unnatural environment which makes rest and a stressless life even more important

Wow how did you get all this information!

i read it online from different websites and yt vids

Thank you for posting this!  It was very informative.  :)



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