ARTICLE AT A GLANCE
You have far more control over your metabolism than you think, and it doesn’t take a special tea, or magic pill. It’s possible to mitigate the damage to your overall health and metabolism by understanding how your hormones work, and the life and nutrition triggers that are the real problems.
By following these 7 simple steps you can take little actions every day that add up over time, raising your metabolism and getting you back to that healthier more youthful you.
Most advice on raising your metabolism is misleading. Special teas, detoxes and fat loss pills aren’t the solution that you’re searching for.
The metabolism has a much larger role in how we look and feel with each passing decade. Symptoms of aging like loss of muscle mass, motivation, memory decline and hormonal imbalances are all related to your metabolism. When we say, “I want a faster metabolism” — we really mean, “I want by body to perform like it did when I was younger.”
The Hormonal Connection
Hormones affect human functions in all areas. They determine how the body deals with physical and psychological stress — including how we age.
Here’s a quick rundown of what hormones do, so that their influence on the metabolism becomes clearer.
Insulin-a storage hormone that regulates glucose entry into fat and muscle cells. Insulin is elevated in response to carb intake. Since it corresponds to blood glucose levels, high carb meals raise insulin higher and longer than low/moderate carb alternatives. Chronically high insulin levels leads to type 2 diabetes and an imbalance of other hormones.
Thyroid-regulates metabolic rate through enzyme activity and body temperature. The thyroid also influences energy levels and central nervous system activation. A low thyroid is associated with a slow metabolic rate and poor protein synthesis. This is the recipe for gaining body fat and losing muscle.
Estrogen- produced mainly in the ovaries of women and the testes of men, this hormone plays and important role in sperm production and bone maintenance. Of course the amount needed to support this function varies greatly between men and women. Our exposure to environmental estrogens is at an all time-high through poor food quality, chemicals and personal care products. Too much estrogen circulating in the body lowers other sex hormones and reduces transit time in the gut which causes constipation. Fat distribution throughout the lower-body can be a sign of excessive estrogen levels.
Testosterone-improves protein synthesis(more muscle mass) and promotes fat burning. Testosterone is produced in the body from cholesterol, which you get from dietary fats. Motivation and drive are also associated with healthy testosterone levels in both men and women.
Cortisol-acts as stress hormone, but also a metabolic hormone. Cortisol’s main purpose is to regulate blood sugar and energy levels when we’re under stress. When we suffer from stressors day after day though, cortisol can begin increasing cravings, body fat accumulation, nights of insomnia and insulin resistance. Chronic inflammation is usually seen from cortisol being out of balance.
Not feeling like the younger you—How did we get here?
Not Dealing with Stress Appropriately
We have more potential for stress in our lives than any other time in recent memory. Deadlines, busy schedules, financial constraints and plenty of uncertainties apply pressure on us daily. With social media and other technologies at our fingertips, we’re also VERY interconnected with each other. This of course can be good and bad in terms of stress management.
Too Much Processed Food
Our food system has been built to give us what we want, when we want and plenty of it. To satisfy American’s need for “more” and “faster”, big food companies emphasize shelf life at the expense of food quality. They also understand the addictive qualities of foods that combine refined carbs and fats together in concoctions that are palatable and fast digesting. These types of foods release energy quickly with a blood sugar crash following soon after.
Not surprisingly, this is when you crave the same types of processed foods a few hours later. Regular consumption of these foods leads to insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances. When this happens, Type 2 diabetes is around the corner.
Not Enough Quality Protein
Protein has gotten a bad rap in recent years because of links to cancer and cardiovascular risks. The poor quality meat sources consumed in the studies along with the ultra processed foods that existed in the diets never seems to be mentioned though.
Here’s what you need to know about a diet that is rich in quality proteins such as grass-fed red meat, free-range poultry and wild-caught seafood:
- Greater meal satisfaction and less hunger due to the fact that the amino acids in protein foods trigger the release of gut hormones that reduce appetite.
- The preservation of lean muscle during fat loss or aging, allowing for better maintenance of metabolic rate.
- A higher thermic effect, which means the body burns more calories processing and digesting protein foods than those from carbohydrates or fats.
- Protein is critical for immune system support and building neurotransmitters that contribute to cognitive function and mental health.
You may have read about a Hollywood celebrity that lost 30 pounds in a month. Maybe a friend dropped two sizes after drinking nothing but detox shakes for a week.
Vicious cycle coming in 3… 2… 1…
- You’re motivated to give it shot. “I can do anything for a month, especially with those results,” you say.
- You go all-in, lose 8 pounds (but not 30) and feel physically ill.
- Despite your hard work, you regain those 8 pounds in 30 days and 5 more pounds in 60 days.
- You feel terrible about your results, create self-doubt and blame it on bad genetics or even worse, your own lack of willpower.
These unsustainable eating habits don’t just break your confidence, they do a number on your thyroid and lead to a sluggish metabolism.
Loss of Muscle Mass
Muscle atrophy is one of the most common signs of aging. As joints get achy and the body gets tighter, we tend to avoid many of the strenuous activities and movements from our youth. Mixed with a decline in hormones like testosterone, it’s possible to lose 5% of your muscle mass every decade after 30.
Lack of Daily Movement
A more sedentary lifestyle that includes less exercise and fewer daily steps also means a drop in circulation. Proper blood flow is underrated for its role in brain health, insulin sensitivity and of course daily calorie expenditure.
Technology has changed the way we work and made average screen time over 7 hours for adults in the US.
There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation helps the body fight illness and injury which makes it an essential part of survival. Chronic Inflammation is more like a destructive fire that accumulates from often from lifestyle choices. Food that lead to obesity, inactivity and poor sleep habits all contribute greatly. As we learned earlier, elevated cortisol is highly associated with inflammation.
Look Younger. Feel Younger. 7 Steps to Raise Your Metabolism
Step 1. Aim for 25-35g of protein per meal or .6g per 1 lb of bodyweight.
Quality proteins from animals raised on their natural diets offer so many health benefits. Maintaining or building muscle as we get older has incredible anti-aging effects including an increased metabolism. Since protein synthesis declines with age, hitting daily protein goals is the nutritional key to prevent muscle loss.
Step 2. Cut out industrial seed oils.
Oils such as soy, corn, safflower, cottonseed and canola are known for increasing inflammation and are consumed in very high amounts within a standard American diet.
Fats from grass-fed beef, butter, wild-caught fish, coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil will have a more balanced omega 3:6:9 ratio. These more natural fat sources help protect our DNA by supporting the mitochondria. Healthy mitochondria=healthy metabolism.
Step 3. Backload your carbohydrates.
We tend to have greater insulin sensitivity in the evening, especially if carbs were kept relatively low during the day. Timing your carbs in this manner can improve thyroid function and promote more restful sleep. The amount of carbs you consume depends on many factors, so you might experiment with 40g-80g to see what works for you. Good sources of carbs include jasmine rice, potatoes, citrus fruits, berries, plums, pears, apples and melon.
Step 4. Lift Weights.
Lifting weights helps to regulate sex hormones(testosterone and estrogen) in both men and women. The additional muscle mass attained through weight training will greatly increase your metabolism and make you more sensitive to insulin. All of the above is incredibly “anti-aging”.
Step 5. Eat at the same times each day.
Studies found that people who eat at random times every day had higher BMI’s when compared to people who had structured eating times. This result is likely from appetite, digestion and fat mobilization all being highly influenced by circadian rhythms. It should also be noted that structured eaters tend to be more aware of their daily calorie consumption.
Step 6. Get early morning sunlight
Exposure to the sun in the morning resets your circadian rhythm. This rhythm is responsible for a natural rise in cortisol, dopamine and norepinephrine in the AM improving energy and drive. Studies also show that people who took in early morning sunlight produced less cortisol and more melatonin at night leading to better quality sleep.
This natural hormonal curve helps manage insulin and regulate blood sugar which is key for a healthy metabolism. To take full advantage, leave the sunglasses off and expose as much skin as you’re comfortable.
*If you’re worried about skin damage, the ideal time for this is between 7am-10am since UV will likely be lower.
Step 7. 30 Minutes of Daily Movement
Regular low intensity exercise such as walking, hiking or yoga is a highly effective way to relieve stress and anxiety. Athletes know that scheduling these low intensity workouts between more demanding training sessions is an incredibly powerful recovery method. This is a result of increased circulation and reduction in cortisol and a boosted immune response.
While there is a lot of misinformation out there, following these suggestions is a sustainable way to achieve a higher metabolism and reduce the symptoms of aging like loss of muscle mass, motivation, memory decline and hormonal imbalances.
Need some help on the meal prep? We’ve got you covered there too with chef-prepared, ready-to-eat meals delivered fresh to your door.