By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
Metabolism. It’s a popular word. It’s often believed to be “slow” if someone is struggling with weight loss, but a slow metabolism is rarely to blame. Dietary choices can have a supportive or destructive effect on your metabolism, the health of your hormones, liver and digestive system which all play a significant role in the way our body burns or stores fat.
The ‘metabolism’ is a set of life-sustaining chemical transformations within the cells. This is a complex biochemical process where calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function.
Even when you’re at rest, your body needs energy for all its life-sustaining functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells. The number of calories your body uses to carry out these essential functions is known as your basal metabolic rate.
Several factors determine your individual basal metabolic rate, such as:
Hormones can have a positive or negative impact on how we burn calories; excess estrogen levels tends to support increased fat storing while testosterone works towards burning fat and maintaining healthy muscle tissue. Elevated insulin as mentioned increases fat stores while glucagon works on burning fat. Thyroid hormones also influence the metabolism so an under-functioning thyroid will cause weight gain as the metabolism slows down and the person feels tired. Cortisol (stress hormone) increases fat stores and muscle breakdown. If you have a thyroid condition, you can learn more about our 60-Day Guided Reboot that is designed to specifically improve your health.
Having high blood sugar, insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances, chronic stress and/or a fatty liver can cause our bodies to be in a chronic state of fat storing thus altering our metabolism. The hormones that tend to be elevated in this state of health increase cravings, appetite and inhibit our fat burning hormones.
Reboots are metabolically beneficial because they stop all processed unhealthy foods that offer NO nutritional content, providing only empty calories and are replaced with 100% plant-based foods that are highly nutrient dense. This helps to support and regulate healthier metabolic health, improved blood sugar control, liver detoxification support, improved hormonal health and better craving and appetite control.
Other factors that can contribute to how many calories you burn daily:
As with most health and wellness advice, it is important to keep hydrated to avoid a metabolic drop. With slight dehydration our metabolism may slow slightly to reduce cellular hydration loss. In one small study they found that drinking 16 oz (500 ml) of water had a 30% increase in caloric burn for 10-40 minutes afterwards. So as you can imagine keeping that water intake up throughout the day can have a significant effect on weight control.
Exercise, activity levels, stress and sleep all have an impact on our metabolism. Exercise and moving your body certainly supports more calories being burnt. Cardio such as cycling, walking and running are important along with strength training such as weight lifting, Pilates and yoga to enhance your muscle tone to increase your caloric burn.
Physical activity of any nature increases calories being burnt including walking up the stairs rather than taking the elevator, standing rather than sitting or getting off the train or bus 1 stop earlier. It all makes a difference when it’s consistent.
These all have a small effect on our metabolic rate but consistency with high nutrient foods, activity and improved lifestyle factors adds up and will support a highly functioning healthy metabolism.