Most of the time, when we think of metabolism, we think of weight loss and the idea that a fast metabolism means we burn food as quickly as we consume it.
But, your metabolism is really all the chemical processes in your body that keep you alive: converting food and drinks into energy, repairing cells, breathing, and keeping your organs functioning!
For many of us weight loss is one of our health and wellness goals. We’d be happy to lose a couple of kilograms, fit into our jeans a little better or to just feel “healthier” with less weight. So, let’s talk about metabolism and why we relate it to calorie consumption and weight loss.
It’s really easy to forget that we are all unique bodies with different needs and different things we should avoid. It’s tempting to want to try the latest fad diet if you’ve seen a friend shed tonnes of lbs in a matter of weeks. But, there are so many factors that make our bodies an environment unique unto us that we’re not sure we could even count them.
Things like hormones, stress-levels, chronic conditions, personal tastes, and even our individual attitudes determine how we might gain or lose weight. And, of course, there’s our metabolisms.
"There are so many factors that make our bodies an environment unique unto us that we’re not sure we could even count them."
Women, in particular, can find it incredibly hard to lose weight. That's because we know weight loss is directly tied to our complex hormonal systems – which is massively impacted by our modern day environment.
In our years of practice at the BePure Clinic, we have found what we eat, how we move, how we sleep and how we think, all cumulatively impact our health. That’s why, when it comes to weight loss there is no single ‘magic bullet,’ but instead the cumulation of many small things, done consistently.
Today, we will look at five key areas that affect, or are affected by, our metabolisms.
1. Your macronutrient profile
When we eat, food is broken down into its macronutrient parts and released into our bloodstream for “processing” - this is basically our metabolism at work. Carbs break down to their simpler forms; glucose, fructose or lactose. Proteins break down into amino acids and fats become lipids or essential fatty acids.
This is a great example of different things suiting different people.
Some people thrive on a carbohydrate-rich diet. For these people, good quality, complex carbohydrates will keep them full for longer periods of time and will be processed in the body with very little difficulty and require only a small insulin response.
Others might function much better on a diet that is rich in proteins and fats. Ultimately, the right diet for you is the one that keeps you the fullest the longest.
"Understanding how to balance your blood sugar levels is the most critical thing you can do for improving your energy long term."
To find out your macronutrient profile type you can take the BePure Macronutrient Profile Questionnaire here.
Exercise is important for healthy body systems. It activates the lymphatic system to help the body’s detox pathways, it’s critical for mood and can help increase insulin sensitivity.
However, stress is stress, whether we perceive the action to be stressful or not. Intense exercise is incredibly stressful on our bodies and can elevate cortisol levels which makes weight loss hard. If you are struggling with body fat that won't budge you need to consider the types of exercise that are best for you right now.
This will greatly depend on your lifestyle – If you’ve had a stressful day at work or you have a young, busy family, opt for walking, yoga, pilates or bodyweight exercises.
Intense exercise has its place but is most effective when you’re getting good sleep, nutrition and managing your stress levels. High-intensity interval training can improve mitochondrial function and improve your metabolism, but it needs to be short, intense and relatively infrequent with lots of recovery time. Think twice per week for twenty minutes or less, not boot camp every morning for one hour.
Sound, uninterrupted sleep is crucial when it comes to maintaining our overall well being. It allows our bodies to recover and regenerate and research has shown a strong correlation between long-term lack of sleep and obesity.
"Sound, uninterrupted, beautiful sleep is crucial when it comes to maintaining our overall well being."
During your sleeping hours, many hormonal changes take place. Our internal body clock, known as the circadian rhythm, is naturally regulated by light and dark, and by changes in body functions every 24 hours. This includes our body temperature, hormones, airways and kidneys.
This means levels of hormones such as the thyroid hormone, thyroxine, and our sleep hormone, melatonin, are different by day than by night. Interrupted sleep can throw our hormone balance off whack and create health problems. For example, thyroxine regulates our metabolism. If it is affected during this nightly process it can lead to sugar cravings and weight gain during the day.
Melatonin is especially important when it comes to bedtime. This hormone changes our core body temperature and lets us know when we’re tired. Melatonin is produced when it gets dark. Production speeds up from about 10pm onwards – which is why we feel more tired the later it gets. As sunrise looms, melatonin drops off and cortisol production kicks in - waking us up.
In today’s modern environment we’re constantly exposed to the bright light from electronic devices. This can disrupt the earth’s day-night cycle that regulates our sleep cycle. If you're struggling to get good quality sleep, a bedtime routine can help hugely.
Water contains zero energy in a caloric sense, however it is considered a nutrient as it comprises between 50 - 75% of our body’s composition.
"Water is considered a nutrient as it comprises between 50 - 75% of our body’s composition."
It’s really important to make sure that you are getting optimal amounts of water as it is essential for many of many of our bodily functions. Many of these are needed for healthy weight balance, such as:
- Maintaining the health and integrity of every cell in the body
- Aiding in blood circulation
- Carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells
- Helping to eliminate the by-products of the body’s metabolism
- Aiding in digestion
- Helping convert food to energy
Because the body cannot store water, as we excrete through urine and sweat, we must constantly provide and supply our bodies with water to maintain its many functioning systems.
Every major metabolic pathway in our body depends on micronutrients; vitamins and minerals. The key to good nutrition, health and energy is ensuring you have enough of these micronutrients.
Because of modern processing methods, nutrient deficiencies in our soils and the stress of modern living, we are more deficient in critical nutrients than ever before. We are also eating less traditional foods such as liver and other organ meat that our ancestors ate. Liver is among the most nutrient dense foods on the planet and is great for increasing your energy. We have a great recipe for chicken liver pate and meatloaf on our blog.
Now that you’ve furthered your understanding of what metabolisms are and how everyday life impacts them, you’ll be better equipped to experiment with what works for you! Before we can understand how to alter our bodies or affect change within them, we need to know how we, specifically, work and operate in our most natural state and what we respond to in positive and negative ways. Because, when we understand how our bodies work, we have infinitely more control over them and we’re no longer in the dark.