Part 2 of Metabolism
You may feel tired, cold or that you've gained weight. Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”. You may be convinced that your metabolism is slow. Why does this happen? What can slow down my metabolism?
Metabolism includes all of the biochemical reactions in your body that use nutrients and oxygen to create energy. And there are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories). But not to worry – we know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in calories out” (discussed that here) In fact it's so complicated that I'm only going to list a few of the most common things that can slow it down.
Examples of common reasons why metabolic rates can slow down:
● low thyroid hormone
● your history of dieting
● your size and body composition
● your activity level
● lack of sleep
● digestion, the biggie
We'll briefly touch on each one below and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”.
Low thyroid hormones
Your thyroid is 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 autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine or selenium) for example. Another biggie, the hugest one in my opinion is your digestion, I am hoping to dig deeper into that in a future post, because it’s my jam! But in the meantime, if you are looking to improve your digestion, start by getting rid of the processed sugar in your diet, take the Kick Sugar for Good 5- day challenge!
Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your thyroid hormones tested.
Your history of dieting
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 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.
Tip: Make sure you're eating enough food to fuel your body without overdoing it. And do not fear good fats like avocadoes, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds; those are super important for your hormones, which in turn run your metabolism.
Your size and body composition
In general, larger people have faster metabolic rates. This is because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one. However, gaining weight is rarely the best strategy for increasing your metabolism. Muscles that actively move and do work need energy. Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat. This means that the amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have.
Tip: Do some weight training to help increase your muscle mass. Lift weights once a week and you will be doing yourself a huge favor! Which leads us to...
Your activity level
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, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can all contribute to more activity in your day.
Tip: Incorporate movement into your day. If you want to step it up a notch, try high intensity interval training (HIIT) I've talked about this before and I strongly believe this is a best way to get your sweat on. One way to do this for example, is to go full on to exhaustion for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute and do it all over again, 4 times. You can do this with almost any exercise, even on a treadmill. Of course, consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Lack of sleep
There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate. The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. If you want to explore the topic of sleep, you can do so here, where I discuss the importance of sleep for our overall wellbeing. I see the most positive impact on the way I feel from day to day when I get 7 hours or more of sleep. I bet that if you just implement that one change to start, you will see a huge push in the metabolism needle.
Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep.every.night.
Here is your recipe of the week...
'Til next time!
Recipe (Selenium-rich): Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding