If you are trying to lose weight without learning what the most important parts of your metabolism and health in general, you’re going to have a really hard time releasing stubborn body fat.
As a holistic nutritionist, I cringe every time I read a diet book suggesting you should lower your calories, exercise more, eat fat-free, or take the latest metabolism-boosting supplement.
Your body is a temple and temples are started with a SOLID foundation. If you neglect your foundation and try to lose weight, your temple/body will come crumbling down (i.e. you’ll gain more weight).
Learning how the 5 major metabolic factors responsible for your ability to burn fat off your body will help you not only assess your current foundation but will help you build it from the ground up.
The 5 Major Metabolic Factors That Will Help You Lose Weight
Your Metabolism is Controlled by 5 Equally Important Parts
Your Liver – The main detoxification organ. The liver is responsible for ¾ of your thyroid hormone production.
Your Adrenals – Your stress glands. The adrenal glands regulate steroid hormones (for fat loss) and stress hormones helping balance your metabolism.
Your Thyroid – Your master metabolism gland controls your body temperature, metabolism functions, and ability to burn fat.
Your Muscle – The only metabolically active tissue in the body, helps burn fat, regulate blood glucose, and support an elevated metabolism.
Your Body – The product of the 4 previous metabolism factors. Your body is either functioning optimally or is in a state of disease.
How Your Liver Affects Your Metabolism
Your liver is responsible for over 600 metabolic functions. When your liver becomes overburdened with toxins, processed foods, medicines, alcohol, sugar, stress hormones, etc…it goes into survival mode.
You want your liver in thriving mode where it filters out environmental toxins, excessive stress hormones, helps assimilate nutrients and minerals, aids in digestion and blood sugar control, and helps process your macronutrients (fats, carbs, and proteins) efficiently, and controls over 70% of your thyroid function, helping you keep an elevated body temperature and metabolism.
When your liver goes from thriving mode to survival mode, metabolic problems soon follow, such as:
Inability to lose weight or maintain an elevated metabolic rate
If you want to ensure a healthy metabolism and elevated fat-burning potential you will need to commit to supporting your liver for the rest of your life. Commit to eliminating the top inflammatory foods, processed foods, stimulants, and more.
The sky is the limits for your health, fat loss, and metabolism results.
How Your Adrenal Glands Affect Your Metabolism
Your adrenal glands play a major part in maintaining a healthy metabolism. The hormones your adrenal glands secrete and regulate can either help you balance your hormones in favor of a high metabolism or they can have the opposite effect.
Your habits, food choices, exercise, and lifestyle determine how your adrenal glands behave.
Cortisol regulates glucose, fat, and proteins and helps keep the body’s metabolism in check. Cortisol is important in regulating blood pressure. It also plays a role in controlling inflammation.
Catecholamines, such as adrenaline, cause the “fight or flight” response. They also help mobilize sources of energy, since energy is needed in coping with stressful situations.
What can cause dysfunctional adrenal glands? Unfortunately, a lot of things: mental/emotional stress, food sensitivities, blood sugar imbalances, infections (i.e. parasitic, bacterial), excessive exercise… basically, anything that is a perceived stress on the body.
If you’re concerned about your adrenal glands, the first thing you must do is remove or address the source of stress. This may mean removing food sensitivities, addressing an infection, resolving mental/emotional stress, or whatever it may be
How Your Thyroid Affects Your Metabolism
As you may remember from school, your thyroid is your “master metabolism gland.”
Thyroid hormones act on almost every kind of cell in your body to increase cellular activity or metabolism. If there is too much or too little thyroid hormone, the metabolism of your entire body is impacted.
Since the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 control cellular metabolism throughout the body, when there is not enough of them for any reason, this metabolic function slows and becomes impaired.
Since the thyroid gland regulates metabolism, there is a strong correlation between thyroid disease and weight. Weight gain is more severe in people with hypothyroidism due to an excess accumulation of salt and water; weight loss is common in people who have hyperthyroidism.
Though it seems that thyroid hormones could be an easy cure-all for weight control, the use of the hormone would also cause loss of muscle protein, which would be detrimental to a person’s overall health.
Here’s How to Address a Low Thyroid
Treat the Underlying Causes — Identify and treat the underlying causes of hypothyroidism, like food allergies, gluten, heavy metals, nutritional deficiencies, and stress.
Optimize Your Nutrition — Support your thyroid with optimal nutrition, including foods that contain iodine, saturated fat, zinc, omega-3 fats, selenium, and more.
Minimize Stress — Eliminate adrenal exhaustion and minimize stress by engaging in a comprehensive stress management program.
Exercise — Engage in thyroid stimulating exercise, which boosts thyroid function.
The good news? You can reverse low thyroid and turn your thyroid into a metabolism boosting machine.
How Your Muscle Affects Your Metabolism
Lean muscle not only looks great, but they are vital for your overall well-being and your metabolic health.
With the help of your thyroid, muscle tissue dictates your metabolic rate. Muscle is the only metabolically active tissue you have to burn excess fat off of your body.
In other words, the more muscle you have the more calories your body burns and the fewer calories you need to maintain your weight.
Since most of our insulin receptors are present in our muscle tissue, the less muscle you have the more “insulin resistant” you become.
What happens when you have insulin resistance? One of 3 things happen when you eat sugar and have insulin resistance:
Ideal Scenario: Glucose is used as fuel, which helps build lean muscle and boosts your metabolism. In this scenario, glucose, your primary energy source is used to help you burn calories efficiently and eventually, burn fat.
Ok Scenario: Glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver or muscles for later use as fuel. In this scenario, your happy liver holds on to your glucose for later use (i.e. exercise, or missing a meal, because of a last minute meeting)
Bad Scenario: If your glycogen stores are full, your meals are improperly balanced, your muscle mass is low, and your carbohydrate intake is high, glucose is stored as FAT. In this scenario, way too much glucose is floating around in the blood with nowhere to go.
The result of the bad scenario is MORE insulin, leaving your liver stressed out and your abdominal fat more stubborn than ever.
This is the BEST way to eat and exercise for lean, healthy muscle.
How Your Body Affects Your Metabolism
When it comes to your metabolism (and fat loss) there are 2 kinds of bodies:
A Fat-Burning Body
A Fat-Storing Body
This sounds over-simplistic, but when you start to investigate how your metabolism functions in relation to your ability to burn fat, this is what you’re left with.
Are your habits, exercise, food, and lifestyle supporting a metabolism that helps you burn fat or store fat?
Here are the 7 Differences Between the 2 Body Types
As you can clearly see, all 7 differences can be traced back to the 5 metabolic factors discussed in this article.
Your metabolism is responsible for deciding which type of body you have and you are responsible to swaying your metabolism in either direction.
Now all that’s left is to identify the primary areas of metabolic stress…
Are you eating too many processed foods for lunch, which is overloading your liver, which is inhibiting your thyroid?
Are you relying on caffeine or energy drinks for mid-day energy boosts, which is tiring out your adrenal glands causing high levels of stress hormones (i.e. cortisol)
Do you need to increase the amount of protein in your diet? Or Fat? Or Carbs?
Do you need to cut out long bouts of cardio and add in shorter bursts of metabolic exercise?
These are just a few questions I’ll leave you with to get started on identifying your primary areas of metabolism lowering habits.