What’s metabolism got to do with it?

Do you feel tired and fatigue? Does it seem as though your hands and feet are always cold? Do you have extra weight around your middle that doesn’t seem to want to go away? Do things seems not to be moving in the digestive department?

If you said yes, to any of these questions your metabolism might be sluggish.
There was a time I answered yes, to all of the above questions. I was tired and fatigue most days and needed a sugar boost about 3 p.m. Heck I needed to sugar boost every couple of hours. I  also had cold hands and feet unless it was 80 outside. Actually sometimes this is still an issue. I get in bed and my husband is like why are your feet so cold?   Also the pouch around my middle comes and goes depending on what I eat and my digestive system becomes sluggish when I am stress and my life is out of harmony.

So you might be asking – Why does this happen? Why do metabolic rates slow down?

What can slow 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 don’t worry – I know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in calories out”! In fact it’s so complicated I’m only going to list a few of the 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
  • stress
  • lack of sleep

I’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.

Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your thyroid hormones tested. Get your results interpreted by someone who uses a functional/optimal reference range. This is something I am trained to do.

I have looked at my thyroid hormones from a functional perceptive and I teeter towards hypothyroidism hence my cold hands and feet.

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. The key is seasonal, whole foods.

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, you already know that 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. When I had a personal trainer my metabolism was great and so was the shape of my body.

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.

I know this can be challenging for us Busy Professional, Real-Life Superwomen but vven 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. My favorite is taking a 5-10 minute dance break.

Stress

Cortisol is one of the hormones produced during a stressful situation. Cortisol taps into your energy stores, including stored forms of glucose, protein and fat, to supply your body with the energy it needs to react to a stressful situation. In the short-term this process burns calories and increases your metabolism, but chronic stress will actually break down muscle for energy, negatively impacting your immune system and slowing down your digestive system.

Tip: Do stress managing techniques daily such as deep breathing, meditation and/or yoga.

Bonus Tip: Remember your body does not know the difference between a real threat or an actual threat and will respond in the same way. So ask yourself how can you shift your mindset about things that aren’t actual threats such a traffic or challenges with a co-worker.

Shifting my mindset about situations and daily meditation has been a game changer for me. My stress has decreased as well as the girth around my middle.

Lack of sleep

I know, I know. Who has time to sleep when there are things that need to be done. However, there is plenty of research that shows the influence sleep has on your metabolic rate. The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.  Did  you also getting enough sleep also increases the amount of growth hormone released which helps you burn fat and boost your mood.

Tip: Try to create a night time routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night. My night time routine involves reading something inspirational, saying a prayer of gratitude and rubbing Serenity or Clary Calm essential oil on the bottom of my feet and the back of my neck.

In the comment section please share a metabolism boosting tip you use or one you plan to use.

If you want support in jump start your metabolism this spring, schedule a 30 minute complimentary GET TO KNOW YOU SESSION with me. Click here to schedule.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/metabolic-damage

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/thyroid-and-testing

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance

https://authoritynutrition.com/6-mistakes-that-slow-metabolism/

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/

http://summertomato.com/non-exercise-activity-thermogenesis-neat

http://www.livestrong.com/article/460992-does-stress-increase-metabolism/

 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352154616300183

 

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6 replies
  1. Elizabeth Scala
    Elizabeth Scala says:

    Great post! Love how you shared a tip with each area that could potentially be problematic. I know for me, I need to constantly be choosing activity and healthy eating. A good night’s rest is mandatory… but somehow, I am ALWAYS able to choose sleep early in the night! Great article, sharing. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra says:

      Thank you Elizabeth for commenting and sharing! I am glad to hear sleep is a priority for you. It seems for many of us sleep is not at the top of our list yet it’s one of the essential tips to keep us looking and feeling healthy. Keep get your sleep on as well as choosing daily movement and healthy eating.

      Reply
  2. Tiffany Martin
    Tiffany Martin says:

    I plan on using tip #1 I doubt my thyroid is off but it’s worth checking out. I too am always freezing unless it’s 90degress and sunny. As I write this response I am sitting in a full length robe under a huge blanket! lol everyone who knows me, knows that I am alsways cold, it gets a little serious when my nail beds turn purplelish so I know it’s something that needs to be addressed. I loved all the other tips too! Especially the ones about stress!! Thank you!!

    Reply
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra says:

      Tiffany I am glad you found the tips helpful. Thank you for commenting. Yes, I highly recommend you ask you doctor to do a full thyroid panel. Many times doctors will only check the TSH and not everything else like T4, T3, Free T3 and T4 as well as the antibodies. Testing the for the full panel give you a complete picture about the function of your thyroid. It will be interesting to see what you your results are.

      Reply
  3. Hans Thomsen
    Hans Thomsen says:

    Dear Cassandra, not being a power woman, but rather a male just about to enter the 3rd age, there was an aspect I was missing in your article, what is Metabolism in the first place? Dr. Raphael Kellman in his Microbiome Summit 2 had a great interview with Frank Shallenberger, MD of The Nevada Center of Alternative & Anti-Aging Medicine about this apparently a bit forgotten subject. Surprisingly very few doctors in America know, how to measure Metabolism, which means they don’t know, how to measure the activity of the Mitochondria (“the power house of the cells”). Sometimes you have to wonder, what exactly the doctors of clinical medicine are thinking about. But then, even the professionals within functional medicine, seems a bit unaware of this intricate question. I might be wrong/yours Hans

    Reply
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra says:

      Hans,
      Great question! I know metabolic rate is the amount of calories your body burns at rest for basic functioning and there are different ways to calculate this rate. I researched Dr. Frank Shallenberger and see they do Bio Energy Testing, which helps determine how well the mitochondria are functioning. I had never heard of this test. Thank you very much for sharing.

      Reply

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