We have probably all heard about metabolism… men have quicker metabolisms, your metabolism slows with age, my family all have quick/slow metabolisms… All of these are true and can be contributing factors to the speed of your metabolism, but there’s a little bit more to it. Don’t worry, I’m going to make it simple for you! First, let’s start with the basics.
What Is Your Metabolism?
Generally, people understand your metabolism as how quickly you digest food. This is just one part of what your metabolism is responsible for! Your metabolism is a collective word for the chemical reactions that take place in your body every day, to maintain your general health. ‘Metabolism’ defines the process of combining nutrients from food and supplementation with the oxygen from your blood to create energy.
This energy is what keeps your body ticking over. It’s like carbo-loading for a marathon, apart from the marathon is just, well, being alive. Everything in your body takes energy, whether this is your immune system fighting off viruses and bacteria, your digestive system breaking down food, your lungs breathing, cells repairing, or your heart pumping blood around your body. All of this is done behind the scenes, without you even trying, but it’s your metabolism that makes sure your body has energy to facilitate these essential tasks. So, we could say your metabolism is pretty important!
If you have a fitbit, Apple Watch or another fitness tracker, you may have noticed that the tracker has estimated a set amount of calories that your body burns without doing any exercise or additional ‘active’ calories. These calories are the amount of energy your body uses to do all these essential ‘behind the scenes’ processes every single day, otherwise known as your basal metabolic rate. Essentially, this is your metabolism.
There are many factors, which we can’t control, that influence your basal metabolic rate such as your gender, age, body shape and genetics. However, there are lots of contributing factors to your metabolism that we can improve, and therefore boost our metabolism.
First, let’s look at the different body types and how this impacts your metabolism, as this will help you gain a greater understanding of how best to boost your metabolism.
What Is Your Body Type?
Endomorph: Larger frame with a higher body fat percentage. Finds gaining muscle and weight easier than losing it. Works best with a diet high in protein, healthy fats and leafy greens.
This body shape is often viewed as ‘slower’, and this is true, it does have a slower metabolism, but only because you’re so efficient at storing nutrients and energy! This body is also more prone to fatigue because your body naturally doesn’t want to tap into your stored nutrients and energy.
Ectomorph: Long, lean body with minimal fat and muscle. You struggle to put on weight as you burn calories at a much faster weight. You work best on a diet with a high calorie intake, full of healthy fats and fruits and vegetables.
Your body is reluctant to store nutrients and energy, therefore it burns calories at a much faster rate, resulting in it being hard to put weight on. To maintain a healthy weight it’s important to ensure you’re getting enough healthy fats and starches in your diet.
Mesomorph: Mesomorphs have athletic and well-defined bodies that can both gain and lose muscle and fat easily. You benefit from a balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein and fat.
Mesomorphs may find their weight fluctuating quite a lot depending on your diet and lifestyle, therefore it’s important to watch your calorie intake in order to maintain an optimal weight. Whilst this body shape finds it easier to gain weight than an ectomorph, it also finds it easier to lose weight than an endomorph. Therefore, following a balanced diet and exercise programme is important.
Signs You May Have A Slow Metabolism
Body shapes contribute but don’t define your metabolism. If your metabolism becomes slower, there is likely to be some other factors influencing this. First, you need to notice the signs that your metabolism has slowed:
- Sudden weight gain or weight that won’t budge
- You start to get symptoms of hormonal imbalances
- Your blood sugar becomes imbalanced
- Your menstrual cycle becomes irregular, or you get new menstrual cycle symptoms
- You start experiencing digestive upset
Hormones & Your Metabolism
Often people are confused why a calorie deficit for weight loss can work quicker, or more effectively, for some than it does for others. This is because calories don’t control your metabolism, your hormones do.
You may have heard about insulin when people refer to diabetes, but it’s not as simple as ‘you’re diabetic or you’re not.’ The truth is, insulin is important for regulating blood glucose levels for EVERYONE, and if your blood sugar is imbalanced, you can experience some insulin resistance without being diabetic. But wait, why am I suddenly talking about insulin?
Well, stick with me. Everything in the body is connected, right? It all works Synergistically, hence Synergised ;).
Anyways, the pancreas produces insulin in response to blood glucose levels, which is how your body breaks down carbohydrates, transforming them into energy. Your basal metabolic rate, which is essentially how many calories your body burns, or how much energy your body requires at rest, is determined by the thyroid hormones (T4 and T3 to be exact). These hormones also regulate your glucose levels. See, everything is connected and we’ve done a full circle when it comes to insulin, thyroid hormones and metabolism!
Therefore, if your thyroid is underactive (hypothyroidism), your metabolism will be slowed down which will prevent you from losing weight. Hypothyroidism can cause a permanently slower metabolism, if you don’t address it using functional medicine and integrative health practices. T3 and T4 production can be increased via nutrition and supplementation and, in turn, your metabolism should speed up as well.
Your hormones are reactive to the environment that you place them in. If you suddenly cut your calories dramatically, your body may go into survival mode and, as a result, try to hold onto the calories by slowing down the release of T3 and T4 hormones and, in turn, slowing down your metabolism. So, if you’re someone that fluctuates between binging and fad diets, with no real in between or balance, then your body is properly slowing your metabolism so that it can hold onto calories better. If this is you, don’t worry! I have some tips on how to boost your metabolism…
How To Boost Your Metabolism
Supplements such as green tea extract and bio-available all-in-one powders or multivitamins, like the Daily Essential Formula, can help boost your metabolism. Ensuring your body is receiving enough, and the right form of nutrients and absorbing potent antioxidants will help clear free radicals and other toxins that support the liver in detoxification and, therefore, support hormone balance, which will ultimately lead to a good metabolism.
2. Increase Exercise
Getting your blood pumping and body moving gets everything else inside moving too! When you exercise stress levels are reduced and bodily-systems are boosted, allowing for better hormone balance and a boosted metabolism.
3. Quit the fad diets and swinging between extremes
As we mentioned before, periods of binging paired with a stripped back diet can not only cause the body a lot of stress, which can impact all sorts of health issues along with weight gain, but it can trigger your thyroid to produce less T3 and T4 hormones which slows down your metabolism. Additionally, if your body is swinging between extreme diets, it won’t relax into knowing it will always have food available and, therefore, it will try and keep the calories on your body, even during a deficit.
4. Complete a 21 Day Reset
If you have never done a functional medicine reset before, then it is an essential. If you think you have a slow metabolism, following the 21 Day Reset is a no brainer! Not only will it clear toxins and help out your liver with the detoxification process, but it will give your body the chance to rest and rejuvenate, leading to a boosted metabolism. The 21 Day Reset has recently sold out, but you can sign up here to be notified when there is more stock!
5. Run Functional Medicine Lab TestingThere is an excellent functional medicine at-home lab that I run with clients that have a sluggish metabolism. It can reveal whether your hormones and metabolism are the root cause of your symptoms. It looks at blood sugar imbalances, all thyroid markers (not just TSH!), estrogen dominance, androgens and vitamin D. So all markers that can impact metabolism!
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