NUTRITION: METABOLISM 101
Our Metabolisms. I feel like we use this word a lot, know what it does, but do we really know?
So what it is exactly?
Metabolism or metabolic rate is the speed your body uses the food you eat for energy. Many of us think that we’re stuck with a slow metabolism, and worry that it slows down as we get older, but this is NOT the case! So many of us can use it as an excuse, as we feel our genetic code has determined our body shape. Period.
Signs of a slow metabolism
Low body temperature – a temperature of less than 36.6 C / 97.8 F, especially if your hands and feet are always cold! I had to do this when I was figuring out the health of my thyroid, the key is to take your temperature right upon waking, and before getting out of bed every morning for five days and work out the average to get a good idea of whether it’s normal or that your metabolism could be on the slow side. Have a sheet by your bed, take your temp, write it down and repeat for the whole week! I did it for two weeks, to get a really good picture.
Feeling tired all the time – I've been all too familiar with this. Low energy levels, slow movements and a slow mind! You just can’t get seem to going, especially in the morning.
Gaining weight easily and difficulty losing weight – Remember when I gained over thirty pounds in less than two months?! It was my thyroid / metabolism. Although most people find it difficult to lose weight, if you’re also showing one or two of the other symptoms in this list, it could indicate a slow metabolism.
Hormonal signs – (in women) suffering from an array of menstrual symptoms or irregular, and heavy periods. Thinning hair, and losing the outer edges of your eyebrows.
Your body is under stress – physical stressors such as food intolerances and sensitivities, drastic changes to your sugar levels (caused by intensely sweet foods, refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, pastries, and a grande latte habit)
Over-exercising, there is such a thing, and it can wreak havoc on your metabolism. As well as emotional stress, which can negatively affect metabolism.
Have you said yes to any of these classic signs? It could mean (disclaimer: I'm not a Dr. so please don't take my word as your final diagnosis) that your metabolism is running sub-optimally.
But don't worry, you can heal your metabolism, and thyroid. it won't be an overnight process. It could take months, and even years if it's a more severe case. (It personally took me around three to four years to heal mine as my lyme disease really did a number on my thyroid).
First lets figure out what type of metabolizers there are our there
Which one are you?
You spend most of the day sitting down. Symptoms include insulin resistance (feeling tired, big appetite, brain fog) and being over weight. Think sitting in an office all day with the only movement that you're doing is walking to the bathroom, and the water fountain.
Do this ----> Train your metabolism to burn fat with a low (er) carbohydrate diet.
Avoid sugar (sweets, candy, desserts, cake, biscuits) and starchy food (bread, rice, potatoes). Added sugar can be toxic, especially if you're a slow metabolizer and sugar burner.
Eat a portion of protein and fat-containing food at each meal, such as nuts, seeds, coconut oil, eggs, fish, meat. This keeps you going, plus eating fat gives your body the message to use fat for fuel. I love my fats. I eat a whole avocado and a bunch of seeds every single day.
Stick to 3 regular meals a day and try to avoid unnecessary snacking. Have small low GI (glycemic index) piece of fruit in between meals, or a low sugar cold pressed juice if you're exceptionally hungry.
Fast overnight - have at least twelve hours without eating every night. This means that if you eat dinner at 8pm, wait until after 8am the following morning before you have breakfast. Digestion takes up to 80% of your energy, and your body simply can't repair itself properly with full devotion to healing, especially at night. (This is good practice for anyone!)
You’re physically fit and train at the gym or studio five times a week. But you often get colds, infections and feel run down.
Do this ----> Give your body more fuel to keep going by customizing your carbs to your exercise level. If you are this active you must be refueling properly . . . or you will get into the vicious cycle of going into 'starvation mode'.
If you have high-level goals, or you’re performance training, think about what your sport demands – for high impact, high intensity training (anaerobic activities) you may need some more starchy foods.
A diet low (er) in starchy, carbohydrate foods like grains and flours can be great for losing weight, but to perform well in intense exercise, carefully chosen carbohydrates will help keep your metabolism and immune system functioning well.
Ones to include- millet or quinoa, sweet potato, beets, carrots, celeriac, swede, and parsnips into your routine e.g. a portion for lunch in advance of an afternoon session, and another with your evening meal to refuel after exercise.
KEY: See if this works for you by testing and assessing your progress, become your own experiment and see what your body needs! We are all different and require different things, at different times.
You’re a life-long ‘dieter’, you haven’t eaten carbs since the 90s (even the healthy ones!), you eat little and don’t do much exercise because you have low energy. You seem to feel the cold more than other people.
Do this ----> Kick your metabolism into action with regular nourishing meals and more exercise.
SIMPLE: Eat healthier and move more! Eating and exercise increase your thermal rate, which improves your metabolism. Incorporate three meals and one to two snacks per day. Plus some exercise that you enjoy four times per week – walking, running, bouncing on a trampoline, yoga, boxing, ballet, pilates, etc.
Eat one tbsp of coconut oil every day – the type of fat in this oil is used quickly and easily in your body for a burst of energy, it's not stored as fat. Coconuts are your new best friend! I like whipping it into my morning matcha's, or blending with my breakfast smoothies.
Incorporate natural, whole carbohydrate foods like sweet potatoes, millet and quinoa on days when you’re exercising, e.g. a portion of buckwheat porridge for breakfast with some Maca, then ½ a sweet potato with butter or coconut oil with your dinner after the gym.
The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn when your body is at rest (yes even when lying down). Support the development of your lean muscle mass by eating plenty of good quality protein from sustainable fish, nuts, seeds, quinoa, hormone free meat and Spirulina – a complete protein that’s quickly digested and used in your body.
Your hormones are simply out of whack, your hands and feet are always cold, your periods are all over the place, and you put on weight too easily. (this used to be me!)
Do this ----> Help your hormonal balance by reducing stress on your body and support your thyroid gland, which controls your body’s metabolic rate.
Reduce caffeine, alcohol, and sugary foods, which cause spikes and dips in blood sugar levels and push your body into a state of stress. This is when I gave up coffee for over a year and a half, never had a sip of alcohol (I still don't drink, but I don't like to say never. Because sometimes that glass of celebratory champagne is healthy, because it makes you very happy), and eliminated all processed / added sugar, even the healthy kinds such as sugary raw treats.
Get some support at work and at home from your loved ones to improve situations that are making you feel stressed. This could be a chat to your boss or switching to online grocery shopping, just think about what could make your life easier and do it. Journal. Take baths. Meditate. Take a break from social media which creates lots of subconscious stress. Make vision boards. Read. Do Yoga. Plan a tea date with a friend, and don't pull out your phone. Go for a walk in nature...find the things you love to do, and do them.
Reduce foods that are famous for causing irritation and sensitivities (in other words: stress) in the digestive system, this includes gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, rye and oats, plus dairy products, additives in processed foods and pesticides from non-organic food – go for natural, organic, whole foods as much as possible. But don't worry if you can't buy all organic. Simply by adding in a lot more vegetables, and fruit, you're on such a beautiful path.
Eat more foods containing iodine, including seaweed, seafood and choose natural sea salt to season your food. Iodine nourishes the thyroid gland, and helps heal its imbalances.
Get lots of sleep. More sleep than you think possible – your sleep (or circadian) rhythm regulates your hormones and your energy burning ability. Aim to be asleep before 10.30 pm and get 8 hours per night – a great tactic is to start getting ready for bed an hour before you’re aiming to be asleep.
Want to start healing your metabolism now? Here are a few of my top tips to get burning:
Green tea – drink 2-4 cups a day.
Organic Wheatgrass – add 1-2 tsps per day to a glass of water with lemon, green juice or add to food and dressings. Warning - tastes very grassy, but it's so good for you!
Cinnamon – add to breakfast bowls, smoothies, chia puddings, warm drinks like my homemade turmeric latte.
Hot spices like cayenne and chilli – to heat your body.
Coconut oil – eat 1 TBSP per day, stirred into porridge, whip up in smoothies, mix with chia pudding, or use to roast vegetables with.
Protein – easily absorbed complete protein such as Spirulina powder in a glass of water with lemon + lime – take within an hour after exercising or your protein of choice.
Natural sea salt or Himalayan pink salt – add to food instead of industrial table salt to help your body utilise iodine better.
Remember that all of our bodies are beautiful and unique. What works for your best friend, might not work for you. It's about finding what works for your lifestyle, and body and sticking to it.
For years I've become a human experiment. Constantly testing, questioning, tweaking, finding my own personal balance. I will continue to share my findings, outcomes, experiences and advice with you guys. I don't believe you find a perfection equation and that's it. Our world is moving at such a fast past, that we're constantly having to adapt to new pressures, way of living and more stress on our bodies.
I love a good challenge, so I'll share my journey along the way.
Wishing you a beautiful weekend ahead.
For those looking for major and sustainable transformation in their lives through holistic nutrition, wellness practices, using the mind/body connection and establishing new daily habits, I so look forward to connecting over a session when you’re ready.
Love & light,