Metabolism has become a buzzword, and everyone seems to be talking about it for the right reasons. But what most people don’t understand is that metabolism is beyond – weight loss. Even people who appear healthy on the outside can have a metabolic dysfunction brewing on the inside. There is a deeper meaning to metabolism.
Every single function in our body relates to our metabolic health, and so a dysfunctional metabolism can affect every process. Cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular condition, obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s – are various manifestations of metabolic syndrome.
Even if one develops one or two of these, it is a perfect cocktail to pave the way for others leading to a Metabolic Syndrome. This means, that what may start as just diabetes can eventually lead to the development of hypertension and cardiovascular condition. All of this is for something that went wrong at a cellular level, which is the inability of cells to either metabolize sugar and lipids or handle inflammation. Metabolism, in simple terms.
The top five markers for an optimal metabolism are:
Stable blood sugar levels
High HDL and low LDL and Triglycerides
Low body fat and good lean muscle (which is more important than your weight)
Balanced hormonal health
What cripples your metabolism?
Metabolism is not purely genetic and definitely not God-gifted as people say. While genes can play a role, it is your lifestyle that ultimately defines how those genes are expressed or suppressed. The right lifestyle changes can improve your metabolism whereas the wrong ones can cripple it. From your eating patterns and habits to activity levels and the way you train (exercise), water intake, sleep habits, and even your emotional health hugely impact your metabolism, directly as well as indirectly.
1. Crash or fad dieting
2. Under exercising or over-exercising
3. Chronic stress and suppressed emotions
4. Lack of sleep and rest
5. Sedentary lifestyle
6. Overconsumption of refined and ultra-processed foods
7. Chronic and overuse of medicines
8. Toxins in the body (which is why a body cleanse feels great!)
9. More body fat and less lean muscle
11. Hormonal imbalances (e.g.: thyroid dysfunction)
12. Low water intake
Top lifestyle changes to rev up your metabolism –
Lack of sleep is the easiest way to crash your metabolism. It can slow down nearly every single function in the body as it doesn’t give our body and cells enough time to rest and rejuvenate, resulting in slow function. Sleep is when we also undergo the detoxification process, so a lack of sleep means toxin overload. A toxic body is bound to have a super slow metabolism. Lack of sleep can also increase inflammation in the body, which is another red flag for port metabolic health.
Living by circadian rhythm:
Eating in alignment with our circadian rhythm can also hugely support our metabolism. According to the circadian rhythm, our metabolism is at its peak during the afternoon, and hence it’s easier for us to digest and metabolism a meal (which is lunch) around noon. However, as the day proceeds, our metabolism then starts to dip towards evening and night. So, if one wishes to eat an indulgent meal or a dessert, the best time to do so is lunchtime. On the other hand, a heavy meal at night
can be an uphill task for our body to digest because our metabolism doesn’t support it. This is also why, fasting according to our circadian rhythm, wherein one starts the fast just after sunset and continues until sunrise is one of the most strategic ways to eat to aid your metabolism.
Adequate water intake:
Even a 1% drop in your hydration status can cripple your metabolism and slow you down. Keep yourself adequately hydrated. Take it a step further and drink warm water. Warm water increases the body temperature, which therefore increases the metabolic rate. One can also prepare structured water by adding a pinch of pink Himalayan salt, as the minerals in it ensure hydration at a cellular level.
Build lean muscle mass:
Muscle is metabolically active tissue. The more muscle you have, your body also produces a hormone called HGH which is a human growth hormone, and the more you have of that the higher your metabolic rate is. This is why you will constantly burn fat at any given period when you have that amount of lean mass or muscle fiber.
Eat good fats:
Your body needs fats, the good ones to maintain optimal metabolism. In fact, good fats like ghee, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados – help produce more energy because it is your mitochondria’s most preferred fuel. MCT-rich oils like coconut oil and ghee are fantastic for that. The quantity and type can obviously vary based on the health condition and goals, but some good quality fats boost metabolism.
High-intensity interval workouts (HIIT):
HIIT to spike your metabolism. Interval workouts can truly put your body in a fat-burning mode by activating your metabolism. The beauty of such workouts is that it can keep your metabolism high for quite some time compared to a workout done at a steady rate. For example, Tabata, the 4-minute Japanese workout is one of the simplest and most effective HIIT.
Looking after your mitochondrial health:
Your metabolism is directly dependent on your mitochondrial health. Mitochondria are tiny cellular engines that create energy for the body. How quickly and efficiently the mitochondria can turn nutrients such as glucose into energy reflects metabolic health. If your mitochondria are inefficient, you store glucose as fat. This is what a sluggish metabolism does. Unfortunately, mitochondrial health is susceptible to lifestyle habits. Unhealthy eating, no exercise, lack of sleep, unmanaged stress, toxins, oxidative stress, inflammation, and excessive alcohol consumption – can all affect mitochondrial health.
Good quality supplements:
While this is never a replacement for lifestyle, if there is a serious clinical condition where metabolism has taken a hit and boosting it will help an underlying condition, then the preferable supplements are: Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), alpha-lipoic acid, N-acetyl-cysteine, carnitine, B-complex vitamins, Vitamin E and omega-3 fats. Please note: Always discuss with your health expert before consuming any supplement/food.
Besides that, even foods that create drastic spikes in blood sugar levels like carb-heavy or fiber-deficient meals can create metabolic dysfunction in the long run. This is why we recently came up with a unique flow of eating, which guides us on the sequence of eating that supports our metabolism instead of crippling it. Thus, unique flow allows you to eat anything you want to but in a particular order. The order is –
1. Raw salads, Veggies first
2. Cooked Veggies, next
3. Protein and Fats, next
4. Carbs, Grains, or Starches, at last
Eating this way ensures that your gut is lined with fiber from the salad and vegetables first before you eat your carbohydrates, and this way the glucose dump and spike aren’t as drastic, which favours metabolic health.
This allows us to eat anything we want to but in a particular fashion. Craving pasta? Follow the flow. Eat a portion of raw salad first. Then stir fry vegetables and finally pasta. This flow is simple and can be followed anywhere – while traveling, at a buffet, and even on a flight.
Here’s a simple and effective Metabolism Boosting Concoction that you can try, besides making necessary changes in your lifestyle –
Metabolism Boosting Concoction
1 tsp jeera (cumin)
2 cups of water
A dash of Ceylon cinnamon powder/ inch of Ceylon cinnamon stick
How to brew?
1. Add 1 tsp of jeera to 2 cups of hot boiling water.
2. Simmer with 1-inch ginger and cinnamon stick till it reduces to half.
3. Strain, add fresh lemon, and enjoy.
1. Have it on an empty stomach in the morning or two hours before sleeping at night.
2. Try this non-stop for 3 months for the best results.
Your metabolism is everything. And just by targeting it, you can transform your overall health.
So, if there was ever a time to start paying attention to your metabolic health, it’s now. Most people today have metabolic syndrome even before they know it. Move to action now.
– Luke Coutinho is a Holistic Nutrition and Lifestyle specialist.
The advice offered is intended for informational purposes only and the opinions in this column are solely those of the author. If you have specific concerns, please consult with your physician.