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What You Need to Know about Metabolism

I bet you have seen many headlines that claim to boost your metabolism, burn fat faster, kickstart your metabolism and more.

SPOILER ALERT: there is little you can do to speed things up with your metabolism in a short period of time - your metabolism is a tightly regulated system in your body!

What is metabolism:

Metabolism is a chemical process that keeps your body alive! Our metabolism powers everything from breathing to blinking. That is the most basic definition so you don't overthink the definition you may have heard before. The most common definition is: metabolism is the process by which our bodies convert what we eat into the energy we need to survive and function. Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea believing that metabolism is your only hope toward weight loss, maintenance and weight gain - because there is so much more to that.

Now that you know the definition / multiple definitions - you can learn more of how it works!

How does it work:

EVERYTHING your body does IS your metabolism. It runs 24/7 to keep your body moving, even when you're resting or sleeping. It does this by converting the food and nutrients you consume into the energy your body needs in order to breathe, circulate blood, grow and repair cells, and everything else it does to survive. Your metabolism can only do its job with required nutrients – vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, glucose, amino acids, fatty acids, and more which means you need to eat!

View nutrition dictionary below to learn about nutrition terms you may not know the definition too! 

When I say you need to eat, that doesn't mean go and follow the influencers "what I eat in a day" video because thats not how this works. The biggest question I get is: Why can one person eat like a growing teenager and not gain a pound, while another person's every indulgence shows up on the scale? This is because everyones metabolism is specific to them; there are individual differences in metabolism, muscle mass and physical activity and works at different intensities in different people. How fast your metabolism works is determined mostly by your genetics but also by age, gender, muscle-to-fat ratio, amount of physical activity and hormone function. There are so many factors that have a say in how/why your metabolism functions the way it does but lets focus on nutrition.

How Food Effects Metabolism

Essentially, your metabolism increases whenever you eat, digest, and store food, a process called thermic effect of food. When looking at all of the macronutrients, protein has a higher thermic effect compared with fats and carbohydrates - meaning proteins take longer for your body to burn and absorb. Although that sounds great, it is not clear as to how much effect protein has on metabolism, but studies have suggested the best approach is to combine the intake of adequate amounts of good protein sources with weight training, which increases muscle mass - that is another factor that effects metabolism.

While we do measure metabolic output in calories, we can not simply state that calorie restriction will "help" our metabolism. Calorie restriction usually means inadequate nutrient intake leading to a lower metabolic output. Translation: not eating enough just lowers your metabolism while eating adequately can normalize it. Your body is wired for survival and it will adapt to dieting, especially after multiple dieting attempts. The good news is that metabolism is flexible and can be restored with adequate energy and nutrient intake over time. You’ll have to understand that your body is not aware of what you have done to it with all the different dieting tactics and restrictions so it will take patience and consistency for your body to adapt to a new well-nourished and satisfied state.

Lets dive deeper looking at weight and quick fix dieting:

If you follow a quick fix diet and start to see change, that change is only going to last as long as you stay consistently restrictive (which is not the best option for you health). If you can't sustain that lifestyle, you will gain back the weight you lost and potentially even gain more back. You may feel you then need to diet harder next time and be even more restrictive to lose more weight. It was actually found in "The Biggest Loser Studies" that the extreme dieting and exercising was so much, that when scientists looked at their metabolism it was actually lower then when they started. Their metabolism being lower means that the person that was able to consume 4,000 calories daily and maintain their weight is now not able to consume near 4,000 calories/not able to eat as much as they used to in order to maintain their weight. No one can figure out why this is beyond the fact that this was a huge drastic life changing event that took place for a short period of time and was not sustainable for some of the contestants.

What we actually notice is that the amount of quick fix diets you follow will not allow you to sustainably reach and maintain that weight goal you have set. It is seen that those who do not try and control body size actually maintain a more stable weight over time - meaning that if you are trying a new diet every month, you will most likely see dramatic weight changes from losing a ton of weight to gaining it all back and sometimes more. While that person who is allowing their weight to remain stable and just fluctuate slightly with their day to day activity and minor lifestyle changes, are healthier and will slowly be altering their metabolism for the better in the long run.

Just know: Your body is always talking to you and if your metabolism is not functioning at it’s full potential, you will likely notice signs such as fatigue, poor sleep quality, poor exercise tolerance, headaches, digestive issues, hormone imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, blood sugar fluctuations, etc… The common response to those concerns is to be more restrictive with food, cutting out whole food groups or certain food substances. I assure you that this will likely create more issues than it solves.

Eating a wide variety of wholesome foods and having a flexible approach to meal patterns while honoring signals of hunger and fullness will be the best way to support a healthy body and mind.

Let’s get something clear:

There are no shortcuts when it comes to losing weight. It’s true that studies show that green tea and cayenne pepper may help, but the studies are short term or take place in test tubes or with rodents, and they tend to use these substances in supplement form (rather than the food form, which is how most people consume them). And most importantly, the outcome would not translate to any meaningful or long term benefit for a human.

Some of you may be wondering about just taking a multivitamin. STOP RIGHT THERE! A nourished and satisfied state CANNOT be achieved in a pill. The physical and psychological response to eating FOOD is irreplaceable. Eating a variety of nourishing and satisfying foods is encouraged, recommended and necessary.


If you want to know more about how you can help your body and be the best support of a healthy body and mind - Lets Talk! Use the "Contact Me" form


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