Metabolism, put simply, is the rate at which your body converts food to energy. Metabolic rate is governed by the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located at the base of your neck and the hormones it produces set the resting rate of energy production in your body.
Why would it concern you if you had a slow metabolism? Well, your energy wouldn’t be great, you might put on weight without having much control over it and just won’t feel as good as you could or normally do.
Signs and symptoms that your metabolism is slow:
- It’s easier for you to gain weight than lose weight
- You can’t lose weight no matter how much you exercise and watch what you eat
- You gain weight even when you eat a small amount of food
- You are noticing fat in areas you have never had before
- You have got cellulite in new places
- Your heels are cracked and dry
- You are losing more hair then usual
- You have terrible afternoon sugar cravings (this can also have different reasons)
If you have answered “yes” to more than two of the points above then it’s likely that your metabolism is a bit slow at the moment. But don’t worry, the good news is that can be fixed. Please read on to find out how.
Every cell in your body plays a role in energy metabolism — the process of turning the food you eat into energy that keeps your heart beating, lungs pumping, and muscles moving. The faster your basal metabolic rate, the more calories you burn, the better your metabolism. And just like there are ways to speed it up — by increasing muscle mass and exercising — certain habits can hit the brakes on your natural calorie-churning engine.
To understand this a bit better, let’s take a quick look at the factors that can make your metabolism slow down or become sluggish:
– Eating inconsistently at odd times from day to day. Eating at the same times every day trains the body to burn more calories between meals.
– Pesticides in food like organochlorines. They can interfere with your body’s energy burning process.
– Dietary toxins such as MSG in processed foods can weaken the thyroid gland and reduce your metabolic rate.
– Drinking water containing fluoride and chlorine also interferes with normal thyroid function.
– Not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation reduces the amount of energy your body uses at rest.
– Taking pharmaceuticals like antacids, statins and high blood pressure medication can interfere with metabolic processes.
– Eating too little. Your body goes into starvation mode, slowing your metabolic rate to conserve the fuel it’s got.
– Lacking protein intake.
– Lacking Vitamin D.
– Sitting for too long without breaks.
– Dehydration – all of your body’s cellular processes, including metabolism, depend on water.
– Skipping breakfast. You actually tell your body to conserve energy – which means it burns calories more slowly.
So if you’d like to boost your metabolism……. it is as easy as taking care of all these factors above that lower your metabolism.
Here are some tips:
– Eat consistently and have a routine. Eating breakfast, lunch and dinner about the same time is best. If it’s not possible with all your meals at least try to eat regularly as much as possible. And most of all – avoid skipping meals.
– Eat a large breakfast (with protein), a medium size lunch and a small dinner. I know that this is not the norm in New Zealand but your body will thank you for it. Some of my clients even lose weight if they apply this simple rule.
– Eat enough protein with your meals, also as snacks. Like some nuts and seeds. Or some tuna, cheese, nut butter or chicken. I also like these homemade, very easy and simple protein bars.
– Eat real foods and avoid processed foods. Anything pre-made, cooked or baked with high sugar/artificial sweetener, salt or trans fat content is a processed food. And most of all everything that you buy in the supermarket in a packet. Reduce these slowly and start eating real food just as it comes from nature: vegetables, fruit, grains, legumes, eggs, proteins etc.. Focus on high fiber food. More on food choices below.
– Drink plenty of water. To avoid chlorine and fluoride get a water filter jug (your cheapest option in the long run).
– Get plenty of sleep. Early bedtime, no later than 10 pm is ideal. If you have trouble sleeping try magnesium to help you sleep or talk to me for some more advice and help.
– Avoid sitting still at your desk for long periods. Keep moving and changing positions. Have some breaks from your desk. Go for a walk in your lunch break or at other times. Get some sun on your skin to produce some natural Vitamin D while you do so. Getting up from your desk and do some stretches every now and again can help too.
– Do some cardiovascular/aerobic exercise. High intensity interval exercise also boosts the metabolism and so does stretching before and/or after your exercise. Our metabolism is influenced by muscle mass. The more muscles you have the higher your metabolic rate. Muscle cells require more energy then fat cells in the body. In theory, people with a higher muscle mass would therefore have a greater level of hunger, however due to hormonal mechanisms involving insulin, leptin (satiety hormone) and ghrelin (hunger hormone), as well as emotional factors this is not always the case.
– Spice up your meals with warming spices that boost metabolism. Use Cinnamon, chilli, cayenne, mustard, ginger, garlic, cloves, bay leaves. They increase energy expenditure by burning fat for hours after eating.
– Eat foods that boost your metabolism. They are chewy foods, hearty foods, energizing foods and warming foods. Here is a list of these foods:
- Chewy foods: Lean meat, nuts, fruit, raw veges make your body work harder. Slow chewing makes you feel fuller for longer.
- Hearty foods: Fruit, veges, brown/wild rice, whole grains, psyllium husk. They make us feel full and ramp up calorie burn by about 10 percent, increasing the thermic effect of food.
- Energizing foods: Green tea contains catechins, an antioxidant that raises metabolism by about four percent. Have as much green tea as you like – any green tea will work. Dark chocolate contains caffeine and catechins too, but also contains more calories. Enjoy it in small amounts.
- Warming foods: Peppers, coconut oil, lean protein, seafood, eggs, nuts, cider vinegar, mustard and the warming spices mentioned above.
As you can see, even if your metabolism has slowed down, you can change it! It can be fixed and repaired. Follow the advice above and see what happens. If that is not enough and if you still don’t lose any weight or feel better, then please contact me. I’m happy to help you.
Be well, stay well.
– Health 2000 Magazine – Issue Oct/Nov 2014