Don’t Blame Your MetabolismLuke Coutinho
Metabolism has become a buzzword, and everyone seems to be talking about it for all the right reasons. Though what most people don’t understand is that metabolism is beyond obesity, digestion, and fat gain. Even people who appear healthy on the outside can have a metabolic dysfunction brewing on the inside. So, there is a deeper meaning to metabolism. Every single function in our body relates to our metabolic health. Metabolic dysfunction is any abnormal regulation of blood sugar, lipids, or chronic inflammation that can lead to disease later on and manifest as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, metabolism syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and a lot more. Even if one develops one or two of these, it is a perfect cocktail to pave the way for others leading to Metabolic Syndrome. What may start out as just diabetes can eventually lead to the development of hypertension and cardiovascular conditions. All of this for something that went wrong at a cellular level, which is the inability of our cells to either metabolize sugar, lipids or handle inflammation.
Immunity and Metabolism – Any Connections?
Yes, a huge connection, and there isn’t a better example than Covid 19. The world saw that those with symptoms of metabolic dysregulation (high sugar levels, lipids, and blood pressure) were prone to the virus and infection and capable of falling severely ill than those with a perfectly healthy metabolism. Thus, our immune system is driven by our metabolic health too, and this is a scientifically documented fact.
How can you fine-tune your metabolism?
While some people go from pillar to post, finding ways to boost metabolism, buying metabolism- enhancing teas or powders, some thank their genes. All of us want our metabolism to be efficient, but what determines your metabolism in the first place? It is your lifestyle and the daily choices you make around food, exercise, sleep, and other habits.
Two drivers of metabolic health
- Your Mitochondrial Health
This is the most critical aspect as your metabolism is directly dependent on your mitochondrial health. Mitochondria – the tiny cellular engines that create energy for the body – are central to our metabolism and digestion. How quickly and efficiently the mitochondria can turn nutrients such as glucose into energy reflects metabolic health. If your mitochondria are inefficient, you store glucose as fat. This is what a sluggish metabolism does. Unfortunately, mitochondrial health is susceptible to lifestyle habits. Unhealthy eating, no exercise, lack of sleep, unmanaged stress – all affect our mitochondrial health.
- Your Thyroid health:
A prime factor. Everything connected to metabolism revolves around your thyroid health. An under-active thyroid gland could lead to a weak metabolism, which is why one of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism is weight gain. When your thyroxine falls, the body receives signals to slow down, which in turn slows down your metabolism. Thus, it is necessary to keep your thyroid health in tip-top shape through nutrition, exercise, sleep, and emotional health. It’s also essential to take care of micronutrient deficiencies like selenium, iodine, and magnesium to keep it running well.
Top Lifestyle Changes To Improve Your Metabolism:
- Deep Sleep:
Lack of sleep is the easiest way to crash your metabolism. It can slow down nearly every function in the body as it does not give our body and cells enough time to rest and rejuvenate, resulting in slow functioning. Sleep is when we also undergo a detoxification process, so a lack of sleep results in toxin overload. A toxic body is bound to have a super slow metabolism. Lack of sleep can also increase inflammation in the body, which is another red flag for poor metabolic health.
- Living by the Circadian Rhythm
Eating in alignment with our Circadian Rhythm can also hugely support our metabolism. According to the circadian rhythm, our metabolism is at its peak during the afternoon, and hence it’s easier for us to digest and metabolize a meal (lunch) around noon. However, as the day progresses, our metabolism then starts to dip towards evening and night. So, if one wishes to eat an indulgent meal or a dessert, the best time to do so is lunchtime. On the other hand, a heavy meal towards night can be an uphill task for our body to digest because our metabolism doesn’t support it. Hence, one of the most strategic ways to aid your metabolism is fasting while aligning ourselves with the circadian rhythm at the same time. This simply entails starting our fast just after sunset and continuing until sunrise the following day.
- Adequate water intake:
Even a 1% drop in your hydration can cripple your metabolism and slow you down. Keep yourself adequately hydrated. Take it a step further by drinking warm water. Warm water increases the body temperature, which therefore increases the metabolic rate. An increase in metabolic rate will allow your body to burn more calories.
- Build lean muscle mass:
Muscle is a metabolically active tissue. When you have a lot of muscle, your body produces a hormone called the Human Growth Hormone (HGH), and the more you have of this hormone, the higher is your metabolic rate. This is why you will constantly burn fat at any given period when you have that amount of lean mass or muscle fibre.
- Eat good fats:
Your body needs fats, the good ones, to maintain optimal metabolism. In fact, good fats like pure ghee, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados help produce more energy because it is your mitochondria’s most preferred fuel. Medium-Chain-Triglyceride or MCT-rich oils like coconut oil are fantastic for that. The quantity and type will vary based on one’s health condition and goals, but many good quality fats boost metabolism.
- High-intensity interval workouts:
Engage in HIIT to spike your metabolism. Interval workouts can truly put your body in a fat-burning mode by activating your metabolism. The beauty of such exercises is that they can keep your metabolism high for quite some time compared to a workout done at a steady rate. For example; Tabata, a 4-minute Japanese workout.
- Good quality supplements:
While this is never a replacement for lifestyle, if there is a severe clinical condition where metabolism has taken a hit and boosting it will help an underlying condition, then preferable supplements can include Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), alpha-lipoic acid, N-acetyl-cysteine, carnitine, B-complex vitamins, and omega-3 fats.
What cripples your metabolism?
Any sort of crash or fad dieting that asks you to “starve” your way to weight loss can break down your metabolism into bits. Grain-free diets, for example, can be detrimental, as grains are rich in B- vitamins that are key to an effective metabolism. Ask someone who has tried every fad or crash diet under the sun and how their metabolism has taken a hit. You’d get a very clear picture. The right lifestyle changes can improve your metabolism, whereas the wrong ones can cripple it. From your eating patterns and habits to your activity levels and the way you train (exercise), water intake, sleep habits, and even your emotional health, all hugely impact your metabolism, directly as well as indirectly. So, if there was ever a time to start paying attention to your metabolic health, that time is now. Do not wait for the next season or the next round of blood work. Move to action now. We bet it will be your smartest investment, not just for the ongoing monsoons but for a lifetime.
Please note: Always discuss with your health expert before consuming any supplement or food.
Fine-tune your metabolism by adopting lifestyle changes in your nutrition in a way that works for YOU. Our metabolic health experts are here to guide you at every step of the way. For more details, check our Metabolic Syndrome Program.
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