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Metabolism and Health

If you've ever fallen for fad diets or attempted to eat healthy but didn't get the results you were looking for, it's highly likely that metabolism played a huge role. It is the secret key to health no one ever talks about.
Truth is, metabolism plays a massive role in body weight, nutrient processing, and overall health. The speed of your metabolism directly affects how your body burns calories, stores fat, and deals with toxins. If there is something off in your metabolism, eating fewer calories or adhering to a bizarre weight-loss diet will do next to nothing.
metabolism-and-health
Ever hear a story about someone who worked hard to lose weight only to gain it right back when they stopped their fad diet or unnecessarily expensive gym membership? Who hasn't?
In fact, you might have been taken advantage of by one or more of these schemes. The weight-loss industry itself is a massive fraud when you look at it in the right perspective, so this is to be expected. Eating certain foods and working out is only part of the equation when it comes to looking and feeling your best. There's a reason why most of these programs rarely, if ever speak of metabolism. If they did, they would be putting themselves out of business.

Look Deeper

So what's the big deal? What exactly is metabolism? In short, it's simply the various processes our bodies undertake to turn food into usable substances. In other words, it's the actions our cells perform to keep themselves functioning utilzing what we put into our bodies.
Optimally, our metabolism is what keeps the flow of chemicals (good and bad) in our body processing at rates that benefit us. Our weight, our overall health, even our moods, owe a lot to the state of our metabolism. Its balance is essential. However, we are now facing an epidemic of corrupted metabolisms. Our spcecies was never designed to intake most of the common "foods" we eat on a daily basis. As our food gets more artificial and away from what we are naturally supposed to eat, our cells face a greater burden trying to process it without losing balance.
Eating the wrong substances is only part of the story though. We as a species engage in a litany of behaviors that are unnatural, all of which go a long way in corrupting our metabolism. Not drinking enough water, lack of proper exercise, shallow breathing, lack of sleep, and other factors all contribute to a deterioration of metabolism balance over time.
The result is that only a small percentage of the population has a decently functioning metabolism by the time they reach the age of 30. Even many who exercise on a regular basis and eat what most would consider to be a healthy diet, still suffer from an impaired metabolism.

Signs of an Impaired Metabolism

  • Weight Gain
  • Cold Extremities, Poor Circulation
  • Dry Skin
  • Can't Seem to Lose Weight Regardless of Effort
  • Hair Loss
  • Brain Fog, Lack of Concentration
  • Lethargic
  • Sudden Food Intolerances / New Allergies
slow-metabolism
What does that list sound like? Practically every person in the Industrialized World past the age of 40, right? There's a reason for that, and it's simply because by that time, the poor diet and behavior choices we make catch up to us regardless of the little things we do to mitigate it, such as fad diets or "going to the gym."
All the calorie counting and stair-stepping in the world won't fix an impaired metabolism. You're being lied to by your gym trainers and dieticians. If you want to know how to balance your metabolism, read on, but be prepared to make some life changes that extend beyond eating a salad with dinner or going to the gym twice a week.

Water, the Basis of Life

We don't talk enough about water. After all, we are primarily composed of it, and it is the foremost component of our biological functions. Why aren't you drinking more of it? That is the question.
I know people are probably sick of hearing "drink x-amount of glasses of water a day" but it really can't be stressed enough. Whatever amount of water you are currently drinking, it's probably not enough. The first thing you should be doing every morning is downing a large glass of water, which jumpstarts the metabolism and prepares your body for breakfast. Drink a generous amount throughout the day to keep your metabolism stable.

More Protein, but From the Right Sources

In general, eating food increases your metabolic rate temporarily, but it's important to do this right. This phenomena is called the thermic effect of food, which is due to the energy that is required to actually digest the food you are eating. Protein-rich foods cause TEF to rise the most, but it's crucial that you focus on healthy protein. Think nuts, legumes, and vegetables like broccoli and bean sprouts.

Get Up and Move!

We're not sloths, we're not meant for a sedentary lifestyle. Long periods of time sitting or lounging around is contrary to our biology, and the result is a slowed metabolism. When our muscles aren't being utilized, our bodies don't know what to do with themselves. Unfortunately, our jobs and other factors keep us planted in seats for good portions of the day, but whenever you can, try and move around. Which brings us to the next point...

It's Time for a Real Workout

No more elliptical, no more power walking, no more 15-minute "dancing" routines. That stuff is all well and good for aerobic purposes, but if you're serious about losing weight or balancing your metabolism, you're going to have to step it up a notch.
If we were in the wild, we would be performing high intensity full body workouts on a daily basis. That's plain fact. Just because our civilization is different than other animals doesn't make us any less of an animal. On the contrary, we would be living much healthier, happier lives if we took a few pages from the animal kingdom. Case in point, many so-called "workout routines" don't stimulate the body enough to mimic what we would be exerting in nature.
Comfort zones are out the window. If you're not sweating and if your heart is not racing after your workout, you're doing it wrong. For starters, try this:
  • 20 Squats
  • 20 Lunges (each leg)
  • 40 Calf Raises
  • 10 Squat Jumps
Take about a minute break, then repeat once. Increase sets as you get better.
This is a basic example of a decently intense workout. If you're currently trying to lose weight and squats are difficult, worry not! There are all kinds of high intensity workouts suited for all stages of body mastery and weight loss. Check the blog for workouts we'll be adding. The point is, your end goal of a workout should be to heal your body. That might sound counterintuitive, because aren't you ripping muscle? No pain, no gain, and all that?
Sure. But the true point of exercise is to provide our bodies with the basic physical activity we would be engaiging in on a regular basis were we still living in nature. Think about it. Ideally, a workout stresses the body in such a way that it balances our metabolism and forces us to function as we were designed to. This is the heart of body mastery, a reclemation of our natural state.

Pump Some Iron

Big weights are typically seen as something only bodybuilders utilize, but the picking up and moving around of heavy objects is a surefire way to increase metabolism.
First of all, the more muscle you have on your body, the faster your metabolism is in general. Lifting weights is the premiere way to increase muscle size. This is not to say you cannot do it in other ways, but if we're talking about giving your muscles a serious workout, weights are often the easy way to go.
For anyone trying to lose weight, if all you're doing is aerobics and no lifting, you may want to rethink your routine. Remember, weight is regulated by metabolism, and the more muscle you have, the better your metabolism. Even while you are at rest, simply having more muscle on your body forces your metabolism to function at a higher rate than if the same body mass were fat. Want to lose weight? Put on muscle mass. Even if you are going for a lean look, you want to gain some muscle.

Count Plenty of Sheep

Sleep is a crucial part of our self-maintenance cycle, and plays a large role in the way our metabolism is regulated. If you're not getting enough sleep, there's likely an imbalance or two in your body chemistry, and that can lead to a slowed metabolism.
Have trouble sleeping? See above. One of the best ways to cure insomnia is to engage in strenuous physical activity. If you spend your day active, there is a higher chance that you'll be tired in the evening, and this will lead to healthy sleep patterns. This cycle of activity and dormancy is something all mammals engage in and is something we absolutely need in order to be in peak health.

The Bottom Line

True health is achieved when your body is in equilibrium. Anything that occurs outside of this equilibrium is subject to vanish on a whim, or be compromised without warning. Health without taking metabolism into account can only ever be part of the story. If you take a holistic approach to everyday behavior, you'll find that your metabolism will right itself in short order, and from there, adjusting diet and training becomes doable.

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