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The word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days.  I’m sure you’ve heard that if yours is too slow you can gain weight.

But what exactly does this mean?

Well technically “metabolism” is the term to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body.  It’s how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do – even the things going on in the background like thinking and digesting your food.

Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and stay alive.  And without this amazing biochemistry, humans probably would not have lasted long on the planet.

Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:

  • Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
  • Allow activities you can’t control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
  • Allow storage of excess energy for later.

So when you put all of these processes together, it’s no secret that they can be “off” for one reason or another, resulting in a metabolism that is too slow or too fast.

Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”.

Metabolic rate is simply how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!).

The calories you eat can go to one of three places:

  • Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
  • Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).
  • Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).

As you can imagine the more calories you burn, the easier it is to lose and maintain weight because there will be fewer “excess” calories to store for later.

Metabolic rate has several components, but one is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you’re not being physically active.  Your RMR has a lot to do with internal processes and, to a large extent, is something you may not have a large amount of control over.

Another aspect of metabolic rate is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise, fidgeting, walking to your car, chasing the kids) throughout a 24-hour period.  You do have control over the TDEE by choosing activities throughout the day that add to the overall energy burn.

What affects your metabolic rate?

Well, if you have a few days to learn it all…… KIDDING!  But, in all seriousness – there is a lot that goes into metabolism.

Thyroid

The first thing you may think of is your thyroid. This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism.  Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn at rest.

Your size

Larger people have higher metabolic rates.  That only makes sense, right?  Think about it, an NFL linebacker is going to have different energy (food) requirements than a jockey.

Body composition

Pop Quiz:  What is more metabolically active – muscle or fat?

Obviously – muscle!  So the more muscle mass you have, the more energy your body can burn and the higher your metabolic potential.  Even when you’re not working out.  This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program.  Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you, even at REST.

You’ve heard of passive income, right?  Well, this is like passive metabolism!

Weight loss

With weight loss the metabolic rate often takes a dive.  While this is natural, we want to minimize this as much as possible. One way to offset that is by working hard to put on more muscle mass.  Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate because your muscles are burning fuel to move

Foods

Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food.  This is called the “thermogenic effect of food” (TEF).  You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.

Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%.  By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.

But hold on!   Don’t go thinking these increases can substitute for the moving and activity you should be doing. They are but one small part of the big picture.

Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow.  By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.

Other

Don’t forget the mind-body connection. Plenty of research exists that shows the influence things like stress and sleep have on your metabolic rate.   While these things affect the metabolism indirectly by altering many of the body’s hormonal processes, they can make quite a difference!

Metabolism can change

Understanding metabolism is like parenting a toddler – the second you think you have it figured out, something changes and what you thought was working…. suddenly doesn’t.   We age, have illness, have babies, work nights, etc….   Our lives change and so does our body’s response to that change.

Aside from obtaining you Ph.D in metabolism physiology, the best thing you can do is make sure you are fueling yourself with appropriate, whole foods and stay as active as you can.  Strength training and flexibility are two important keys to longevity and being able to stay active as you age.

You can learn more about dealing with your changing metabolism in my new ebook coming out in October! Click here to find out more or to be notified when the ebook is available. 

Recipe (Lean Protein): Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts

Serves 4

2 lemons, sliced

1 tablespoon rosemary

1 tablespoon thyme

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)

dash salt & pepper

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive old

Preheat oven to 425F.  Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish.  Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.

Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper.  Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Cover with a lid or foil.

Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If you want the chicken to be a bit more “roasty” then remove the lid/foil and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!

Check out my new ebook that is sure to PREPARE you for your next diet!

Weight loss starts with your MIND…not with your BEHIND!

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References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/

exceptional weight

We’ve all been there – the uncomfortable one at the party or family gathering.  Having obesity can make it even more unpleasant.

Whether it’s judgmental looks from across the room or grandma’s comments about the “baby fat” you’ve never lost, weight is a personal subject.

If you’ve been struggling to lose weight, you’re not alone.
According to Gallup.com, 52% of Americans want to lose weight.

While weight loss is an individualized concern, the ways obesity impacts one’s lifestyle are fairly universal. To shed light on this, take a look at some of the ways being obese can impact you and your loved ones.

Higher risks of health complications

In addition to societal effects, obesity can impact your daily life. Throughout the years, obesity has been known to pose higher risks of several health conditions such as sleep apnea, joint pain, diabetes, and cancer.

If you’re feeling pressure in your back and joints by the end of the day, it could be time to finally lose the excess weight. Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging your joints over time.  It may not seem like a big deal while we are young, but as we age…..mobility and independence will be a BIG deal.

In both sexes, the chances of cancer increases with excess pounds. For women, this can include breast, colon, and uterine cancer. For men, the risk of prostate and colon cancer increases. If any of these cancers are prevalent in your family, the odds increase even more.

Getting pregnant becomes more difficult

Obesity also has been linked to fertility complications, which may explain why you and your spouse haven’t been able to conceive yet.

In women, obesity can cause hormonal imbalances, which impacts ovulation. Inversely, being underweight can affect fertility, so falling within the “average” weight for your height and age is greatly important.

In the end, everyone’s different, and obese couples may have very little issues having a baby, but it may be something to look at if you’ve been struggling to conceive.

You deal with social stigmas

We all know that most Americans place a value on being thin. If you believe that you’ll be great at your job once you’re thin, or you’ll finally find the right partner once you’ve lost the weight, you’re not the only one.

You could be on a flight and find the person next to you acting like you’re a burden no matter how courteous you try to be. The young kid at the theme park who tries to fasten your seat belt could look at you like you’ve done something offensive.

Is it fair? No. But the good thing is that you can do something about it without having to feel like you need to take society head-on. It starts with admitting that you’re finally ready, then comes finding the right, healthy diet and exercise routine to follow.

Having obesity impacts your psyche

Every day we see images of happy thin people, which programs us into believing that being thin is the only way we can be happy. Though the tides are changing thanks to some of today’s top plus size models, it’s still important to consider your own mental status.

In addition to overall mental fatigue, those with obesity are about 25% more likely to have depression. With this follows self-confidence and self-image issues that are damaging to one’s mental health.

While it’s possible to be happy and overweight, that doesn’t mean health consequences aren’t down the road.  Talk to your physician about what you can do to lose excess weight and be the healthiest you can be!

 

This, as well as other essential information for weight loss, can be found in my new ebook!  This new ebook prepares you for your next weight loss program – to make it your LAST weight loss program!  Weight loss starts with your MIND….not with your BEHIND.  Get your mindset right and your chances of weight loss success SKYROCKET!

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Guess What?!  Everyone Likes Cake!

 

A lot of my patients play the blame-game.  I don’t mean they blame their weight issues on others –  exactly the opposite!  They blame themselves for things that have nothing to do with them personally.  This guilt-blame type of thinking can really interfere with weight loss.

If you have some weight to lose, whether it be 10 lbs or 100 lbs, have you ever said (or thought) to yourself “if only I were thin, I’d be able to…..”?   Well, I’m here to tell you that many of the things that finish that sentence have nothing to do with how big or small a person is.

Patients will sit in my office confessing their latest nutritional indiscretions (which usually aren’t all that big of a deal) and rarely does the confession end with just the confession.  More often than not it comes with a “if I were thin, I could have walked away”….or…..”if I could eat normally, that wouldn’t have happened.”  But, my favorite is “if I weren’t so fat, I wouldn’t even like cake*.”  What!?!  (Btw – I hate the F-word…..  Fat is something you have, not something you are.)

Wrong! Weight loss has nothing to do with you liking cake!

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but no one “likes cake because they are fat” – we like cake because we are HUMAN and cake tastes awesome!  I know I furrow my brow when I hear these things, because I’m thinking to myself “wow…Iike that stuff, too!”  Sometimes, I joke with my patients and tell them to get over themselves – they aren’t the only people on the planet that like cake!  🙂

Redirection…

I try to take the conversation in another direction – one where my beloved patient can (maybe) understand that certain actions and desires are 100% normal from a human perspective.  It’s not a character flaw that you enjoy foods that taste good to 99.9% of people on the planet.  But, this is sometimes difficult to comprehend.  When we “like” things, it can be a bit of an identifier of who we are.  And since we obviously need to drop some pounds, we obviously should NOT like cake…but we do…so there is obviously something wrong with us!  NO!  It’s perfectly normal to like cake!  Liking cake does not define who a person IS.

When talking about your neighbor, you may say “that Jim – he loves cars.  He’s a total car guy.”  But, would anyone ever say “that Jim – he loves cake.  He’s a total cake guy.”  No.  Because liking cake is a fairly universal thing, while being into cars tells us something of Jim’s personality.  Liking cake tells us nothing.

Imagine someone comes up to introduce themselves to you.  They extend their hand and say, “hello, I’m Jim and I like cake.”  Unless you are at a cake convention – this tells you absolutely zilch about Jim.  And you’d think…um…yeah, me too.  (Okay, so maybe in THAT example, Jim would be forever known as the guy who likes cake….but that’s not the point!)  The point is….  the fact that you like cake has nothing to do with YOU, who you are as an individual, or what anyone will remember about you when writing your eulogy!  (“Let us all gather to remember Jim, he was one cake-eating accountant…..”  Guarantee you won’t hear that!)

What Matters:  Not that you like cake, but your RESPONSE to liking cake!

What may not be beneficial for health is the excessive indulgence that may be taking place between you and your cake.  This is where the focus needs to be.  We are all faced with situations where there will be cake.  Some people can walk right by it, some people can take one piece and be fine, and some people take 5 pieces and only eat the frosting off of each.  (Not that I know first hand that this happens….)  But, then there will be individuals who simply can’t stay out of the cake.  It goes into the fridge – but they will make several trips, eating a bit more each time.  Does this person like cake more than other people?  No! – and that’s where I come in.

Everyone Likes Cake!

The first thing I make very clear to my patients is the fact that they should not feel guilty for natural human desires.  I’ve had patients feel terribly guilty because they even WANTED cake – when they walked away and didn’t have any!!  It’s natural to like and want cake!  What isn’t natural is excessively consuming cake.  Those are two very different things.

What’s Next? It’s time to find what’s really causing the problem.

What to do about a cake obsession is beyond the scope of this post.  However, I do spend a lot of time talking about over-indulging in cake.  Most cake over-indulgers know quite well it has nothing to do with the cake.  Is it anxiety?  Is it an addiction?  Is it binge-eating?  I don’t know what it IS…..but I know what it’s NOT.  It’s NOT the CAKE**!  Cake is a part of life that you SHOULD enjoy, within reason.  And you shouldn’t feel guilty for doing so.  Why?  Because that’s what it’s meant for!  If it wasn’t meant to be enjoyed, it would be broccoli!

Bottom Line…

Be kind do yourself.  Give yourself a break!  Yes, there’s a problem – and we’ll find it!  But, don’t vilify yourself for something entirely natural.

~Dr. Hodges

 

*please substitute your “thing” for cake – candy, pasta, bread, etc.

**No cake was harmed during the writing of this post.

This, as well as other essential information for weight loss, can be found in my new ebook!  This new ebook prepares you for your next weight loss program – to make it your LAST weight loss program!  Weight loss starts with your MIND….not with your BEHIND.  Get your mindset right and your chances of weight loss success SKYROCKET!

 

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