Why Is My Metabolism Slow?

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“No matter what I do, I can't seem to lose weight. I think I'm cursed with a slow metabolism.”

I hear this often from my clients, and the good news is that no, you're not cursed and yes, you can fix your metabolism.

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 – we 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

●      lack of sleep

We'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.

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.  Diets that restrict calories below 1000 per day can slow down your metabolism.

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 unless you are severely under weight, gaining weight is not a good 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 weight training to help increase your muscle mass.

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.

Even 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 and exercise regularly.  10,000 steps a day is the encouraged level of activity. 

Lack of sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.  The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night.  Turn off your electronics an hour before bed.  Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.  Meditate, practice deep breathing, or take a hot epsom salt bath.

Recipe (Selenium-rich): Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 4

  • ½ cup Brazil nuts
  • 2 cups water
  • nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth (optional)
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Blend Brazil nuts in water in a high-speed blender until you get smooth, creamy milk.  If desired, strain it with a nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth.

Add Brazil nut milk and other ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined.  Let sit several minutes (or overnight) until desired thickness is reached.

Serve & Enjoy!

Tip:  Makes a simple delicious breakfast or dessert topped with berries.

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

 

 

Could You Have A Food Intolerance?

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A food intolerance or "sensitivitiy" can affect you in many ways.

And they’re a lot more common than most people think.

I'm not talking about immediate allergic reactions that involve an immune response. Those can be serious and life-threatening.  If you have any allergies, you need to steer clear of any traces of foods you are allergic to, and consult with your doctor about medical treatment.

What I'm talking about, is an intolerance, meaning you do not tolerate a specific food very well and it causes immediate or chronic symptoms anywhere in the body. Symptoms can take hours or even days to show themselves. And symptoms can be located just about anywhere in the body.

This is what makes them so tricky to identify.

There are some common food intolerances that have immediate and terribly painful gastrointestinal symptoms, such as lactose intolerance or celiac disease. These can cause stomach pain, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea;  symptoms can start immediately after eating lactose or gluten.

On the other hand, other more insidious symptoms may not be linked to foods in an obvious way.

Symptoms like:

●      Chronic muscle or joint pain

●      Sweating, or increased heart rate or blood pressure

●      Headaches or migraines

●      Exhaustion after a good night's sleep

●      Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto's or rheumatoid arthritis

●      Rashes or eczema

●      Inability to concentrate or feeling like your brain is "foggy"

●      Shortness of breath

If your body has trouble digesting specific foods, it can affect your hormones, metabolism, or even cause inflammation and result in any of the symptoms listed above. And these can affect any (or all) parts of the body, not just your gastrointestinal system.

How to prevent these intolerances.

The main thing you can do is to figure out which foods or drinks you may be reacting to and stop ingesting them.

The best way to identify your food/drink triggers is to eliminate them. Get rid of those offending foods/drinks. All traces of them, for three full weeks and monitor your symptoms.

If things get better, then you need to decide whether it's worth it to stop ingesting them, or if you want to slowly introduce them back one at a time while still looking out to see if/when symptoms return.

Start Here: Two common food intolerances.

Here are two of the most common triggers of food intolerances:

●      Lactose (in dairy  - eliminate altogether, or look for a "lactose-free" label - try nut or coconut milk instead).

●      Gluten (in wheat, rye, and other common grains - look for a "gluten-free" label - try gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa & gluten-free oats).

This is by no means a complete list, but it's a good place to start because lactose intolerance is thought to affect up to 75% of people, while "non-celiac gluten sensitivity" can affect up to 13% of people.

So, if you can eliminate all traces of lactose and gluten for three weeks, it can confirm whether either or both of these, are a source of your symptoms.

A reliable way to monitor how you feel after eating certain foods is to track it. After every meal or snack, write down the foods you ate, and any symptoms so you can more easily spot trends.

Click here to download a free copy of my Weekly Food Journal to help you track.

And, as mentioned earlier, symptoms may not start immediately following a meal. You may find, for example, that you wake up with a headache the morning after eating bananas.

You might be surprised what links you can find if you track your food and symptoms well!

IMPORTANT NOTE: When you eliminate something, you need to make sure it's not hiding in other foods, or the whole point of eliminating it for a few weeks is lost. Restaurant food, packaged foods, and sauces or dressings are notorious for adding ingredients that you'd never think are there. You know that sugar hides in almost everything, but did you also know that wheat is often added to processed meats and soy sauce, and lactose can even be found in some medications or supplements?

 

Recipe: Homemade Almond Milk

 Makes 3 cups

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2-4 madjool dates
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt

1.     Soak nuts/seeds for about 8 hours (optional, but recommended).

2.     Dump soaking water & rinse almonds

3.     Add soaked almonds, dates and  3 1/2 cups waterto a high-speed blender and blend on high for about one minute until very smooth.

4.     Strain through a small mesh sieve with 2 layers of cheesecloth. Squeeze if necessary. (This takes some time, so be patient!)

5.  Whisk in the cinnamon and salt

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can double the recipe and store the milk in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.

 

References:

http://www.dietvsdisease.org/11-warning-signs-you-have-a-food-intolerance/

https://authoritynutrition.com/lactose-intolerance-101/

https://authoritynutrition.com/signs-you-are-gluten-intolerant/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/food-sensitivities-health-infographic

Tahini and Miso Dressing

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Today I have this most delicious and slightly addicting dressing-dip to share with you.  I have been using this recipe in my 10 Day Total Reset Detox and everyone loves it!  It works great as a dip for sliced raw veggies, or use it as a dressing in a buddah bowl or any of your usual green leafy salads. You could also use it as a spread for sandwiches.

Miso is an incredibly healthy addition to this dressing.  It's a complete protein containing all essential amino acids, and a high quality source of vitamin B-12. Miso stimulates the secretion of digestive fluids in the stomach and restores probiotics to the intestines.

Tahini and Miso Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger (about an inch)
  • 2 tablespoons white miso
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 tablespoons water

Add the ingredients to a food processor or blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add more water if needed to achieve desired consistency.

Cucumber Avocado Soup

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This is a SIMPLE and YUMMY recipe for a light and cleansing soup that everyone loves!   Serve it on it's own, or as a starter for a light summer meal. 

Recipe from:  Goop

Ingredients:  Serves 1

  • zest of 1/2 lime
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, peeled and roughly chopped

Directions:

Blend everything together until totally creamy and smooth.  Refrigerate for up to 3 hours and serve cold.  I added a dollop of plain yogurt for a little extra creaminess.  Feel free to leave that out for a vegan soup.

Why I love this: 

Due to their high water content, cucumbers are both hydrating and low in calories – only 13 per cup. Additionally, cucumbers contain vitamin C and caffeic acid, both of which reduce swelling and soothe skin irritations by preventing water retention. Avocado adds a nice dose of heart healhty fats, and makes the soup creamy and delicious.