These days, we could all use a little metabolic support. I truly believe that the functionality of your metabolism can depend on knowing how it actually works and increasing awareness of what it feels like when it is functioning properly vs. sluggish (aka, looking at symptoms). Far too often I see people after YEARS of eating below 1200 calories, plain undernourishment, thinking chronic fatigue is normal, and habits that lead to muscle breakdown.
So, first of all, what is metabolism? You probably think of it in terms of being “fast” or “slow” or have seen it in big bold letters as a marketing tactic for cheap supplements or it might be the first thing you think of when it comes to weight loss.
Well, I’m here to tell you that there is so much more to metabolism than all of this. It’s not just about weight loss, but how we feel on a day to day basis. A functional metabolism is crucial for actual, real energy, digestion, mood, stress resilience, sex hormone support and more. Essentially metabolism has two functions- to help your body build (called anabolism) and break down substances for energy (called catabolism). Essentially, the goal of your metabolism is to work for you and support your health by either repairing your body/ making it stronger or creating energy.
Pillars to Focus on for Your Metabolism
Blood Sugar Balance
This is truly foundational for anyone I work with, and requires getting more intentional about the makeup of your meals and noticing blood sugar extremes vs. stable fluctuations. This lesson often takes time to sink in and it’s really helpful to take action and then reflect back on how you feel with a dietitian. A greater focus and understanding of blood sugar balance can prevent the excess cortisol and insulin release with blood sugar extremes, and can be a major step towards stable energy, cognition, becoming in control of cravings, tapping into true hunger, and creating healthy levels of stress hormones.
I like to think of your health habits as a form of self regulation, and there is no greater (and necessary) form of self regulation than sleep, your body’s ultimate reset button. Especially from an anabolic perspective, deep sleep can really help build tissue, and that includes muscle. Quality, deep sleep also helps with a cyclical production of melatonin, which can have so many downstream positive influences from weight management to mood and energy support throughout the day.
Well Rounded Movement
Challenging ourselves and getting out of our comfort zone is the catalyst for change, and that also runs true for physical changes. That said, if all of your workouts are pushing you to your highest limit and going all out all the time, it’s safe to say you’re doing it wrong. A hallmark of a thriving metabolism is metabolic flexibility, which is the ability to switch between fat and carb sources for energy efficiency. Strength training has so many metabolic benefits, from improving your body’s ability to use insulin to sex hormone benefits and more. Walking is extremely underrated and a great way to add in daily, lower intensity movement. Active recovery can also help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is a great (and needed) counterbalance to days that you are pushing yourself. Exercise is helpful when it is energizing you and adding to your life, so be mindful if you are feeling like you can barely power through a workout, are feeling lightheaded, or are completely zonked after a workout. Working with a personal trainer can really help you progress appropriately and talk through your everyday movement.
Macronutrients usually get all the love, but let’s not forget the micronutrients. Focusing on these can get a little more intricate, but it’s safe to say that each plays a role in impacting your metabolism on a cellular level. I often find that most people have blind spots as to where they are deficient in these micronutrients. We are creatures of habit, and we often eat the same foods over and over without totally acknowledging it, leaving large gaps for these nutrient deficiencies. A dietitian can help you create awareness and work through these blind spots through actual data (lab testing), talking through symptoms, or looking into your everyday habits.
Putting it all Together
Once you start taking action towards these pillars of metabolism, you’ll really start to notice it. You’ll probably notice your appetite coming back, more mental clarity, more energy, an interest in moving more, craving of more diverse and nutrient dense foods, better resilience to stress, and more. I believe noticing these changes are key for long term health. These changes add up, and before you know it, feeling great becomes your new normal.
If you’d like to discuss further where your metabolism is currently at, and where you’d like to go, we’re always here to help. Simply fill out this application form and we will be in touch. During my free consultation, I deep dive into a “My Symptom Questionnaire” to take all of this to another level and really help you understand your body. All visits are telehealth and I do have insurance options.