In my work with clients, I often hear people talking about how their metabolism is slow, or even broken. If this idea sounds familiar to you, read on to learn more about what metabolism is and how to reset it.
What is Metabolism, Exactly?
This is a word that’s thrown around quite a bit, but many people are confused as to what metabolism actually means.
The word “metabolism” refers to the many sets of chemical reactions in the body that keep a living organism alive. Specifically, it can be broken down into anabolism and catabolism. Anabolism is the synthesis of compounds needed by cells, like protein and DNA synthesis. Catabolism is just the opposite-the breakdown of molecules to be used for energy. Examples would be glycolysis and the breakdown of protein into amino acids.
At the core of a metabolic reset is ample support for the body’s mitochondria, which can be thought of as the power source of your cells. Mitochondria convert food to energy, and if they are functioning sub-optimally, you’re likely to struggle with weight and have a slow metabolism.
Can I Actually Reset My Metabolism?
The short answer is a resounding: yes!
Everybody’s biochemistry is unique, so it is true that some people’s metabolic processes work at a faster rate than others due to a genetic predisposition. However, you have a lot of control over a “broken” metabolism by making some key diet and lifestyle changes.
Remember: food is information!
Real foods that come from nature, especially plants, provide the communication and lay the groundwork for a well-functioning metabolism. On the flip side, processed foods loaded with sugars and artificial ingredients gunk up the lines of communications and lead to a slow metabolism, among other problems.
Common triggers of a slow metabolism in modern day society include yo-yo dieting, long-term calorie restriction, a diet high in processed and refined foods, exposure to toxins, a sedentary lifestyle and chronic stress.
10 Ways to Reset Your Metabolism
Here are ten tangible ways you can reset your metabolism starting today:
1. Include Lots of Colorful Foods
Foods that are brightly colored have lots of antioxidants, which are essential for minimizing free radical damage in the body and supporting healthy mitochondria. Go for a large variety of brightly colored fruits and veggies as often as possible. Think of getting all colors of the rainbow.
2. Omit Sugar
Refined sugar might just be the easiest way to damage a metabolism, as well as any foods made with white sugar such as commercially prepared cookies, cakes, candy, soda, fruit juice and more. Instead, stick with raw honey, grade b or c maple syrup, coconut sugar, green leaf stevia and monk fruit for sweetening.
Check out this article for how to wean yourself off sugar for good.
3. Avoid Refined Carbs
Processed and refined carbohydrates made with white flour act similarly in the body as sugar. These high glycemic, nutrient-void foods impair mitochondrial function and slow metabolism. Instead, enjoy nutritious carbohydrate sources such as whole grains, legumes, sweet potato, plantains and other root vegetables.
4. Eat Healthy Fats
Plenty of good fats also provide excellent fuel for our mitochondria, and can immensely help to reset the metabolism. Especially if you’ve followed a low-fat diet model in the past, your body is likely in need of nourishing fats from coconut oil, grass fed butter and ghee, avocado, nuts, seeds, olives and olive oil and naturally occurring fats from wild fish and high quality meats. When paired with adequate protein and lots of vegetables and fruits, healthy fats definitely have an importance place in a metabolism-boosting diet.
5. Get Enough Protein
While on the topic of macronutrients (fat, protein and carbs), protein has the largest thermic effect of the other two macros. This means that after eating protein, your metabolism rises more than it does with other foods. According to studies, protein will cause a 15-30% rise, carbs a 5-10% rise and fats a 0-3% rise. Protein is also the most satiating macronutrient, meaning it will keep you feeling full for longer, therefore helping with appetite control.
Stick with healthy protein sources like wild fish, pastured and grass fed meats, eggs, organic cheese and dairy, tempeh, whole grains and legumes in moderate portions, nuts, seeds, nutritional yeast and spirulina.
6. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is a nutrient powerhouse, and is loaded with unique antioxidants. In fact, studies show that green tea and oolong tea can boost your metabolism by 4-5%. As long as you tolerate caffeine well, you can safely sip on green tea throughout the day for a metabolism reset.
Traditional Medicinals Green Tea Ginger is my all-time favorite, organic green tea.
Any and all type of physical activity supports a metabolic reset, but HIIT (high intensity interval training) and strength training especially boost metabolism. Building muscle raises your RMR (resting metabolic rate) meaning you burn more calories while at rest. HIIT workouts have also been shown to boost metabolism and increase fat burning, and both of these exercise modalities can be modified for every fitness level.
In general, keep in mind that the human body wasn’t designed to be sedentary. The more you can get up and move around, the better off your metabolism will be. Sometimes sitting too much is unavoidable, so check out how to burn more calories while sitting.
8. Get Plenty of Sleep
Poor or inadequate sleep has been linked with a slow metabolism. Even despite the healthiest of diets and best of exercise programs, if sleep isn’t in order, it’s very hard to lose weight. Lack of sleep leads to a major increase in the stress hormone, cortisol, which also leads to an increase in insulin. Both of these are considered fat storage hormones. Hunger hormones are increased, blood sugar is dysregulated, and a cascade of problems can occur.
Check out this article for specific tips on sleep hygiene and how to fall asleep when you’re not tired. If you’re struggling with sleep, I highly recommend this book.
9. Address Toxic Thoughts and Emotions
Believe it or not, emotional, mental and spiritual health also impact our physical well-being and metabolism. Psychological health is linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome. Addressing these factors is often a longer process, but it’s important to understand the the human body is intricately interconnected, and physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health can all profoundly impact each other.
The Biology of Belief is an excellent resource of further understanding the mind-body connection in relation to our health.
10. Consider Underlying Health Issues
If your diet and exercise are in check yet you are still struggling to lose weight or experience other symptoms of a slow metabolism, consider working with a professional. Running labs to uncover hidden infections, food allergies or sensitivities or other biomarkers that are off can be very important for resetting the metabolism, in some cases.
You have the power to heal, and certainly aren’t doomed to have a sluggish metabolism forever. By focusing on diet, exercise, stress management, sleep and certain key nutrients, you can be well on your way to an effective metabolic reset.