What's up with my metabolism? Is this the reason I can't seem to lose weight?
Does your digestion seem sluggish? Do you feel tired, cold or that you've gained weight?
You work hard at the gym, you eat all of the right foods so why are you still gaining weight or unable to lose weight? Is it your metabolism and inportantly what can you do about it?
What can slow your metabolism?
Metabolism essentially is how we create energy using all of the biochemical reactions in the body. There are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories). It's not as simplistic as Calories In Vs Carolies Out, metabolic rate is far more complex than that! As it is so complicated I’m only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down.
Examples of underlying reasons why metabolic rates can slow down:
- nutritional deficiencies (the nutrients that are key to make energy)
- your size and body composition (more fat and less muscle tends to mean slower metabolism)
- low thyroid hormone (especially poor conversion of T4 to T3, or too much reverse T3)
- a history of dieting (nothing slows metabolism faster than starving yourself for long periods)
- your activity level
- lack of sleep
There are many factors that can affect our nutritional status. The quality of the food we eat, how it is prepared and the typically forgotten about, how well we absorb our food which can come down to things like gut health, mindful eating (aka taking your time and actually chewing your food properly) to how well our body produces the right digestive secretions like stomach acid and enzymes..
Some of the main nutrients that help our body to create energy and fire our metabolism are,
- B Vitamins
- Iodine & Selenium
If you are lacking in any of these nutrients your body will find creating energy a little challenging. These are just the big ones and of course, there are many others at play but these are the ones I tend to see good results with in clinic. *please don’t self-prescribe. See a qualified nutrition professional to determine what (and how much) YOU need!
Your size and body composition
Your body composition is important. Two people who weigh the same can have very different metabolisms. Someone with more muscle mass is going to have a higher metabolic rate than someone who has more fat mass. In general, larger people have faster metabolic rates. This is because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one. The amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have. Muscles that actively move and do work need energy. Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat.
Low thyroid hormones
Your thyroid is your body's thermostat and the master controller of your metabolism. When it produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down. The thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and become more metabolically active. Ideally it should work to keep your metabolism just right. But there are several things that can affect it and throw it off course. Things like chronic stress, autoimmune conditions, and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine or selenium), to name a few. It’s well worth having your thyroid hormones tested (but you’ll need more than just TSH checked. You need a full thyroid panel including TSH, free T4, free T3 and potentially reverse T3 and antibody testing in order to gain more insight. Ps – I can order all these tests for my clients!
A history of dieting
Starving yourself and skipping meals is one of the worst things you can do to lose weight. When people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down. This is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions and do it all with less food.
While dieting can lead to a reduction in the amount of fat it, unfortunately, can also lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle you have. As you know more muscle means faster resting metabolic rate.
This can be why people often put on even more weight after going on a diet.
Your activity level
Try and incorporate movement into your day. Aerobic exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work” and you can tell because you’re also getting hotter.
Even little things can add up. Walking a bit farther than you usually do, taking the stairs, parking your car the farthest away, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, can all help contribute to more activity in your day.
Lack of sleep
There is plenty of research that shows the influence sleep has on your metabolic rate. The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
Why is your metabolism so important for your health?
A healthy and balanced metabolism is fundamental to your health and vitality. Metabolic disorders often result in unwanted weight gain and can lead to diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The right change in your eating can bring the metabolism back to its original healthy starting position – the ultimate body reset. This can have a regulating effect on your weight and help treat and prevent metabolic disorders.
A balanced metabolism:
- promotes and supports your health
- enhances sleep, increasing vitality and performance
- increases your resilience in your daily life and work
- rebalances your acidity/alkalinity levels
- helps you achieve and maintain your desired weight
- brings renewed energy and general well being
- improves your quality of life
The most effective tool I have in my clinic for balancing and resetting your metabolism is the Metabolic Balance program.