According to Dr. Li (a metabolic specalist):
"Many people think of metabolism as one specific system in the body, when in fact it’s the sum of many different processes that are serving other vital roles for us as well.
Our bodies are not closed systems, so our environment, social networks, diet, hormones, microbiome, genetics, and more, all influence how well our metabolism works, or how well we can extract energy from our food."
This quote can really help us dive into what our metabolism is, what it does, and how we can affect the way our body processes and uses energy. Our bodies are not closed systems! I named my coaching business "Connect the Dots" because I have learned repeatedly that every part of our health and wellbeing are connected. Your stress levels, diet, exercise, relationships, daily activities, and food choices, all affect you in ways you might not expect. Stress affects our bodies physically as well as emotionally. Exercise releases "feel good" chemicals that can help with mental health, as well as keeping your body healthy.
What is metabolism?
When speaking of metabolism, it's not enough just to say "I have a slow metabolism". It's true, some days your metabolism might be "slower" than others, but YOU can make daily choices to help it along! Isn't that empowering?
First, remember that when we say metabolism, it isn't just one function happening in one place in your body. Metabolism is simply the thousands of tiny energy exchanges happening all the time! This includes breathing, blood circulation, movement, healing, repairing, body temperature, and more.
There is a minimun number of calories (units of energy from food) needed to keep your body alive. You might have heard this refered to as BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate. Agressive dieting and weight loss can change this number, which is why many people get stuck in yo-yo diets. These unhealthy eating patterns can actually negatively impact your metabolism. If you've been restrictive, your body might hang on to fat more readily because it's afraid of entering "starvation" again. If you binge, your body might not know what to do with the fluctuating amount of calories entering the body.
How can I improve my metabolism?
We get our energy from food, so it is correct to think that gut health plays a big role in converting energy. A healthy gut can affect SO many areas of your life - including mental health! When your digestive system is working properly, nutrients from your food are absorbed properly, energy is produced from the fats, carbs, and protien, and waste is efficiently emptied. There are many other factors that can affect your metabolism (the body's ability to produce energy), including: age, activity level, muscle mass, diet, stress levels, genetics, and environmental factors.
When we think about it in this manner, it doesn't matter whether your metabolism is "fast" or "slow". It matters that you're taking in the right calories for your body, getting the nutrients you need, and exercising regularly.
Here are my suggestions for getting your metabolism in gear:
- eat small meals more often
- taking supplements when needed
- improving gut health
- learning to deal with stress
- listening to your body
- building muscle with exercise
The most important thing to remember with any wellness goal is this: Healthy looks different for everyone. Find what works for YOU and stick with it.
If you need help finding your version of healthy, feel free to schedule a free consultation with me!