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Blog Post: Why is My Metabolism Slow?

Blog Post: Why Your Waist Circumference Matters 100x More Than What You Weigh

 

 

Why Is My Metabolism Slow?

 

You may feel tired, cold or that you've gained weight. Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”.

 

You may be convinced that your metabolism is slow.

 

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. 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 without overdoing it.

 

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 gaining weight is rarely the best 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 some 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. Also, exercise regularly.

 

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.

 

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

 

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 Why Your Waist Circumference Matters 100x More Than What You Weigh

 

You totally want to ditch your scale, don't you?

 

You may have this weird kind of relationship with your “weight”.

 

I mean, it doesn't define you (obviously).

 

What you weigh can matter but only to a certain extent.

 

Let's look at your waist circumference (well...you look at yours and I'll look at mine).

 

Waist Circumference (AKA “Belly Fat”):

 

Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions being like an “apple” or a “pear”? The apple is kinda round around the middle (you know – belly fat-ish, kinda beer belly-ish) and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs.

 

THAT is what we're talking about here.

 

Do you know which shape is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases).

 

Yup – that apple!

 

And it's not because of the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat that you may refer to as a “muffin top”. The health risk is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering the liver, intestines and other organs there.

 

This internal fat is called “visceral fat” and that's where a lot of the problem actually is. It's this “un-pinchable” fat.

 

The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.

 

And the apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than the pear-shaped people do.

 

So as you can see where your fat is stored is more important that how much you weigh.

 

Am I an apple or a pear?

 

It's pretty simple to find out if you're in the higher risk category or not. The easiest way is to just measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape. You can do it right now.

 

Women, if your waist is 35” or more you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity” and be in the higher risk category. Pregnant ladies are exempt, of course.

 

For men the number is 40”.

 

Of course this isn't a diagnostic tool. There are lots of risk factors for chronic diseases. Waist circumference is just one of them.

 

If you have concerns definitely see your doctor.

 

Tips for helping reduce some belly fat:

 

  • Eat more fiber. Fiber can help reduce belly fat in a few ways. First of all it helps you feel full and also helps to reduce the amount of calories you absorb from your food. Some examples of high-fiber foods are brussel sprouts, flax and chia seeds, avocado, and blackberries.
  • Add more protein to your day. Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer. It also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) compared with fats and carbs and ensures you have enough of the amino acid building blocks for your muscles.
  • Nix added sugars. This means ditch the processed sweetened foods especially those sweet drinks (even 100% pure juice).
  • Move more. Get some aerobic exercise. Lift some weights. Walk and take the stairs. It all adds up.
  • Stress less. Seriously! Elevated levels in the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase appetite and drive abdominal fat.
  • Get more sleep. Try making this a priority and seeing how much better you feel (and look).

 

References:

 

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/research-abdominal-fat-and-risk

 

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/visceral-fat-location

 

http://www.drsharma.ca/inspiring-my-interest-in-visceral-fat

 

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-definition/abdominal-obesity/

 

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/weights-poids/guide-ld-adult/qa-qr-pub-eng.php#a4

 

https://authoritynutrition.com/6-proven-ways-to-lose-belly-fat/

 

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-tips-to-lose-belly-fat/

 

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