Why is my metabolism important?
How is metabolism linked to my health struggles?
Does that mean you can eat whatever you want and stay “skinny”?
Doesn’t it just slow down with age unless we diet and exercise?
Does that just mean I need more “will- power”?
What does this have to do with my painful periods or unhappy thyroid?
Well, to answer these questions we must first start by answering this question:
What is metabolism?
When it comes to health coaching, I take a metabolic approach meaning I take a look at different metabolic health markers for areas of improvement.
The reason its important to understand metabolism is because it is much more than what society has told us our metabolism is. The metabolism is the sum of EVERY cellular process in the body meaning it affects EVERY system in the body. You can almost look at the metabolism as an overarching root cause to any symptom or imbalance.
It affects your digestive system, endocrine (hormonal) system, immune system, detoxification, your thyroid, your energy levels, your sleep, libido, mental health, fertility, hair, skin, nails, and so much more. Basically, it is the greatest tool for accessing overall health.
What are signs of a sluggish metabolism?
- low body temperature (95-97 degrees Fahrenheit)
- cold hands, feet, or nose
- have a low pulse (below 75 bpm)
- urinate all day (over 5 times), or ALWAYS thirsty
- poor digestion: constipation (less than one bowel movement a day), bloated or gassy, diarrhea
- poor sleep: can’t fall asleep or wake up often, insomnia
- brittle hair and nails, excessive skin breakouts, wounds take forever to heal
- mood: easily irritated and stressed, anxiety/depression
- chronic fatigue, or have an “afternoon crash”
- low libido and fertility issues
- PMS symptoms, painful menstruel cycles
- low thyroid function
- thin or sparse eyebrows
Why I don't necessarily look at weight as a marker of "health"
Well for one, our weight it supposed to fluctuate- we are not robots or statues.
Two, everyone’s healthiest weight, or weight set point, is different. Meaning even when our metabolism is running in tip top shape, and all of our bio markers are healthy— when we are feeling good, when we are sleeping well, stressing less, and have more energy— we will still all have different body shapes and sizes!
If you are really concerned about your weight during your healing journey, let me ask a few questions here, just as food for thought:
- What is more important to you right now, your weight or your health?
- Are you on a weight loss journey or a health/healing journey? Pick ONE (that doesn’t mean they can’t overlap)
- If you have already spent your WHOLE LIFE hating on your body, Do you really want to spend the rest of your lifetime hating your body?
- What if you could LOVE the body you are in at EVERY stage that it is at?
- Have you always worried about your weight or the foods you eat? What do you think you could do with that time spent worrying back? And the mental energy back?
- If you had to choose between gaining 5 pounds (but you felt better in your body, had more energy, happiness, and met all your health markers), OR loosing 10 pounds (but felt tired, anxious, sick, and not well)— which would you choose? Just something to ponder.
What the average person’s healthiest weight set point would be, might still more than what society has always told us it should be. When coming from low-carb dieting, and finally focusing on nourishing yourself, allowing your body and metabolism to recover and repair, someone may gain “safety” weight FIRST while the body is still trying to figure out if it is “safe”, or if it is still trying to survive “famine” (dieting). Eventually when the body gets enough safety signals from eating ENOUGH, the weight will balance out.
You can be “fat” or “skinny” and still have a slow metabolism. This basically just means everyones bodies responds to stress differently.
Well what causes the metabolism to slow, if not age?
Easiest answer is STRESS.
“But what If I don’t have a stressful lifestyle?”
Okay maybe you don’t “feel stressed”…
- Have you been dieting for a while? Restricting certain food groups, or eating “low-carb”?
- Maybe you are over exercising, and under eating?
- Do you run on caffeine and not food?
- Maybe you don’t sleep well or enough.
- Do you over-commit yourself? Are you a people pleaser?
- How are your boundaries? Is it hard to say “No” to others?
- Maybe you are a chronic high-achieving-goal-setter that doesn’t rest.
- Do you GIVE to everyone else except yourself?
- Do you have nutrient or mineral deficiencies? Spoiler alert, stress DEPLETES your minerals!
- Do you watch the News?
- Do you use conventional cosmetics and household products? How is your toxic load?
- Do you have a history of taking pharmaceutical drugs or hormonal birth control?
- Did you eat nutrient dense foods as a child? Did you grow up in a stressful household?
The list goes on, there are a lot of things that don’t sound like stress but your body still perceives as stressful.
Maybe you do feel stressed and you know you are stressed. Then I may suggest to take an overlook of your life and see where you can do LESS of something. Audit everything you tell yourself you HAVE to do everyday, and see what doesn’t ring true.
More on carb restriction
A big factor of stress would be over restriction of carbohydrates especially, but really diet culture as a whole. This idea that we are all only ever eating too much and have way too big of portion sizes leads us to restrict and then binge, and then we thinking eating is the problem.
This mindset would make you think fruit and honey are issues! When really, the FDA approved amount of 2000 calories really isn’t always sufficient for the average healthy person. The diet mindset leads to over restriction of calories and yo-yo dieting of under-eating and binging. This signals to the body that it is not safe, and should prepare to survive possible famine— talk about a stressor.
More on stress
Any time the output is greater than the input, meaning the body is spending more energy than the food taken in, it forces the body to run off of its back up system which requires stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline to do so. Adrenaline is needed to access stored glucose from the liver and muscles, Cortisol will break down the body’s tissue to convert protein into glucose. Basically, less food means more stress hormones. Stress hormones are also antagonist to thyroid hormones- when stress is up, thyroid levels go down and visa versa.
Now there are other factors as well, such as environmental toxins, EMFs, pharmaceuticals, nervous system dis-regulation, mineral deficiencies, and thyroid suppressing foods such as processed foods, soy, polyunsaturated fats that are in all industrial seed oils, and excessive grains/legumes/nuts.
Soooo Where do i start?
-Balance blood sugar by:
- Make sure you are eating ENOUGH: Are you eating consistent meals/snacks every 3-4 hours? Or are you skipping meals? Are you getting sufficient calories? Or are you running off of stress hormones and caffeine?
- By pairing macros together: Carbohydrates spike blood glucose, proteins spike insulin, so together will give a steady stream of energy. Fats also slow the absorption of glucose for stable energy throughout the day. (eat a CARB + PROTEIN for every meal AND snack)
- Eat within 30 minutes of waking up (to replenish glycogen stores in the liver after “fasting” overnight)
- Here’s an blog I wrote about blood sugar and hormone health
-Make exercise enjoyable not stressful: Is your exercise practice fun to you? Or is it more of a “chore” or punishment? Are you doing excessive cardio? Do you feel tired after working out or more energized? Does your temperature drop after your workouts? (this may even mean taking a step back from some exercising while healing)
-Swap PUFAs for saturated fats (I made a post on this one 😉 )
-Get minerals in! (adrenal cocktails, eating fruit, and adding sea salt on food is a good start, other great sources of minerals include oysters/shellfish, grass-fed beef liver, raw milk, organic fruit juice, and broths)
-STOP FEARING CARBS!! (fruits, honey, and root vegetables are great easily digestible carbs)
Improve your SLEEP with these hacks!
Unlearn to Relearn – Saturated Fat
What the PUFA??
Why is metabolism important? – START HERE
Nutrient Dense Kitchen 101: A Grocery Guide
Improve your cycle, sleep, stress, and fatigue by focusing on this one thing!
Improve your cycle, sleep, stress, and fatigue by focusing on this one thing! Read More »