Wed, 07/06/2022 - 09:41
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Metabolism, put simply, is the chemical process in which our body turns food into energy. The notion of a “fast” metabolism for our intents and purposes is one where you utilize more energy in a day, making you less likely to store excess energy from food in fat cells.
The function of your metabolism is dictated in large part by your hormone balance – which is impacted through a variety of factors the most obvious being genetics, stress, environment, food choices, sleep, gut microbes, and EDC’s (endocrine disrupting chemicals).
Now genetics, we can’t alter but can impact. The expression of your genetics is not static, it’s dynamic. This means that you can switch on and off certain aspects of your genetics via all the aforementioned (for better or worse). So with that said, let’s look at the top factors and what we can do to maximize them and boost our metabolism.
- Nutrition. The first thing is what not to eat. When trying to lose weight the foods that impact your hormones horribly are processed sugars and grains (white flour and white sugar). These foods are poor for a host of reasons, but how they impact our insulin is pivotal so avoid them whenever possible. And, skip the booze. Alcohol impacts fat metabolism for the worse by up to 73% for 24 to 48 hours. Yikes. Second, don’t snack all day long. Eat every 3 to 4 hours for 12 hours of your day only. Snacking and grazing also keeps insulin levels high throughout the day. And, don’t eat at least three hours before falling asleep. We release most of our Human Growth Hormone during our first sleep cycle and eating before bed can compromise this, greatly reducing one of our top fat burning hormones. Three, nurture your microbes. Many studies show us that the microbes in our gut dramatically impact our hormonal response to food. So be sure to eat fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, miso etc. And get plenty of prebiotic fiber (vegetables, beans, legumes) to keep those microbes healthy and strong.
- Sleep is huge. When we don’t sleep it releases more hormones that increase hunger and promote fat storage like Cortisol and Ghrelin. When we do get 7 to 8 hours of sleep it helps boost satiety hormones like leptin (so we are inclined to eat less) and as mentioned it helps support HGH production.
- Supplements and fat burning foods! Ok, there are foods that can give your metabolism a little kick in the pants. Organic coffee (no more than two strong cups a day). Matcha green tea, has catechins in it that have shown promise for boosting your fat burning. Capsaicin from peppers. Ceylon cinnamon has also been shown to help stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels. Ginger has been shown in over 14 human studies to reduce body weight and belly fat.
- Stress. We all know this one and in fact there are numerous studies linking stress to hormone disruptor. There are many ways to manage this, but being social, practicing meditation, taking your vacations, engaging in hobbies all help.
- Exercise (HIIT & Strength). Exercise is a powerful tool to boost metabolism not just because it literally burns calories but because of its positive impact on androgenic hormones that maintain muscle and burn fat (DHEA, TESTOSTERONE, HGH etc.). The most impactful types of fitness to explore would be HIIT training (High Intensity Interval Training) and resistance training. I prefer to combine these two methodologies with into something I call metabolic circuit training. This is when you perform your strength exercises in swift succession without rest and work HIIT intervals into your circuit. An example of a circuit would look like this: Weighted Squats > Push Ups > Burpees
- EDC’s. Like the name suggests there are chemicals all around us that can really screw up our body's hormone balance by mimicking real hormones and changing hormonal sensitivities. Therefore, it’s ideal to go green with cleaning supplies, beauty products, food packaging (plastics / BPA etc.) whenever possible. I have a complete list of products and guidelines in by book Master Your Metabolism and the environmental working group is also a great resource.
- Cold. This is one is getting more attention as of late. Studies suggest that cooler temperatures actually activate our brown fat cells (the good fat), and they release energy as heat. So, a great way to do this one without being totally miserable is to sleep in a cool room (mid 60 degrees). Burn more fat while you sleep? Yes please.