If you know me, you know that I am against the current diet culture. There are many reasons I’m against it: poor body image, restrict-binge cycles, yoyo dieting, and more. But today I’m going to tell you about a big reason that no one seems to be talking about. Well.. technically, people talk about it all the time. Yet it still seems like we’re overlooking this. No one is really thinking about it except maybe to complain and think that we’re doomed because of it. Yep, I’m talking about your “slow metabolism”.
Today, I want you to learn how food truly impacts our health and fuels our bodies. I want you to know what your diet is doing to your metabolism. As I said before, we hear this word all over. Right alongside all those other terms like keto, paleo, calorie counting, and low carb. But this is contradictory. The diet industry is trying to sell you on these diets while simultaneously making you believe you have a slow metabolism. But this is INSANE. Because those diets are CAUSING your slow metabolism.
Energy Balance & Metabolism
So, when you’re trying to lose weight or get in shape by way of restriction, you’re decreasing your calories so that you’re taking in less than you’re burning. Everyone knows this is the way to lose weight, right? Burn more than you take in?
This is true. Weight loss happens exactly this way. It’s something called Energy Balance. When you’re in an equal energy balance, you’re in maintenance. You’re taking in the same amount of calories that you’re putting out. When you’re in a period of growth- you want to take in more calories than you burn. This is the goal for pregnant women, children, and bodybuilders (or anyone whose main goal is to put on muscle mass, because that is growth also, and you need calories to do that). This is called a positive energy balance. When you’re trying to lose weight, you want to burn more than you take in, which is a negative energy balance.
Avoid a Slow Metabolism
So at this point, you’re probably thinking that this means you DO need to cut back and restrict. But what if there’s another way?
Think about this for a minute. The amount of calories you put out during exercise is only a FRACTION of what you burn each day. You also burn calories during daily activities and just from LIVING.
Every metabolic function in your body, every system, every functioning organ, requires calories. The ease and pace at which your body burns the calories for use is what’s commonly referred to as your metabolism.
So I don’t know if it’s clicking yet? You see, there IS another way to reach your goals without restricting.
How Restriction Affects your Metabolism
First, I want to tell you WHY restricting doesn’t work in the long run. What you need to know, that most people don’t think about is this-
Your body instinctively adjusts to what you are taking in.
Let that sink in for a moment.
This means, that every time you cut back on your calories (no matter which way you’re doing it- whether it’s intermittent fasting, carb-cutting, reducing your fat intake or simply counting calories in and out) you are SLOWING YOUR METABOLISM DOWN.
Every time you slow your metabolism down, you’re bringing the largest part of your calorie-burn down. So you need to restrict even MORE to see results. Until you feel like everything you eat causes you to gain weight. Until you’re in my office in tears because nothing you’re trying works anymore. I literally have boxes of tissues for this reason. Everyone thinks they’re the only one who cries in their session because they think it’s their own failure. But it’s not. I always tell my clients, you’re not alone. It’s why I have the tissues! This is emotional because you’re working hard and you think you’re failing. But you’re not failing. It’s not YOUR failure- it’s the diet industry’s failure.
How Energy Balance Can Work FOR Your Metabolism
So…yes, energy balance is the way to reach your goals. But instead of restricting your intake to decrease your calories in, let’s talk about INCREASING your calories out. Remember, the largest part of your calorie-burn is your metabolism. So you don’t increase your calories out by exercising until your legs fall off. You do it by fixing your slow metabolism.
Yes, this way could take longer. Sure, you may not SEE the results right away. But THIS is the BEST way to do it SUSTAINABLY, without getting caught up in the vicious restrict-binge and yo-yo dieting cycles that only end up failing you.
So… how do we do that? How can we increase our metabolisms? Especially if we’ve damaged it from years of restricting?
Your 5 Action Steps towards Fixing Your Slow Metabolism
1. Eat ALL carbs + proteins TOGETHER. At the same time. Every time you eat. Try to choose whole grains, fruits, and starchy vegetables instead of refined carbs and processed sugar, which could hinder your metabolism.
2. Eat every 3-4 hours. You can go less than 3 or 4 hours between meals if you’re hungry, but really try not to go longer. Eating a carb+protein every 3-4 hours is ESSENTIAL for increasing your metabolism.
3. Stay hydrated. Your body needs to be hydrated in order to function at its best, which means that staying hydrated will help your metabolism. In addition, if you’re dehydrated, your body recognizes this as a signal to go into survival mode, so it may hold onto more of everything in order to protect itself.
4. Exercise. The RIGHT amount of exercise. You can overdo physical activity, and if you do, your body reacts the same way that it does when you’re restricting your calories. By slowing your metabolism down. Overdoing your activity also causes too much stress on your body, which signals your body to slow things down and increases cortisol (your stress hormone) which further hinders your progress. The best way to time your exercise is between your carb+protein snacks and meals. For example, if you work out after work. Have an afternoon carb+protein snack about an hour before your workout, and then eat a carb+protein dinner afterwards. If you’re a morning workout person like me, it’s not quite as important to have something beforehand, unless you’re feeling really sluggish and need a boost to fuel your workout or planning on a really intensive workout.
5. Get quality sleep. If you’re a mama, I know it’s futile to tell you that you have to get a good nights sleep every single night. You’re just not going to some nights because that’s life as a mom. But to do the best you can do, you can try to have a good bedtime routine and overall sleep habits in order to get the most you can out of your sleep. Think about what might work for you, and try to make it a habit. Don’t expect your sleep to change after one time doing this, but over time, your body will come to recognize this as a signal to shut down and get some rest, and it will be easier to do so and allow for better quality sleep.
So if you feel like you may have damaged your metabolism with your on again, off again diet, you can take these 5 action steps: Carb and proteins together, eating every 3-4 hours, the right amount and kind of exercise, adequate hydration, and quality sleep.
It will take some time, but you can do it. Unless you’re ok with dieting for the rest of your life without success 😉
If you have any questions about boosting your metabolism or ending your diet to reach your goals, please comment!