By Amber Landsman, MSc , NSCA-CPT
In the world of health and fitness the metabolism is often viewed like a machine. And because of this many people wrongly believe their metabolism is static.
Have you ever heard someone say, “I had my basal metabolic rate (i.e. amount of calories expended during rest) measured and it is 1200 calories per day. So I have developed a diet and exercise routine off of this number.”
This is likely a bad idea because soon after you change your diet and workouts, guess what happens to your metabolic rate? That’s right, it changes in response. That is to say, your metabolism is not static but rather highly flexible. In fact, it is teeter tottering all the time.
One of the major organs responsible for the ability of the metabolism to adapt like this is the thyroid gland (a butterfly shaped gland that sits just below and on either side of your Adam’s apple). You can think of it as your body’s major metabolic engine. Almost like a hot rod car with a turbocharged engine.
Well, guess what happens if you lose power to this engine? That’s right….other metabolic regulating glands, such as the adrenals, have to work much harder making it more likely it will lose power too. And this is how a cascade of negative health effects can occur in the body from one initial insult.
When you are under chronic stress, over or under fed, exposed to toxic substances, sleep-restricted or when your immune system is compromised, the thyroid glands (plus the adrenal glands) are the first to feel it and be negatively impacted.
And then you’ll experience mood disturbances (e.g. anxiety and/or depression), fatigue, brain fog, joint/muscle aches and pains, weight gain and weight loss resistance.
Why Women Struggle So Much With Weight Loss
Studies in weight loss has shown that whenever you eat less and exercise more your metabolism fights back against you by elevating your hunger hormones (eg. leptin, ghrelin and cortisol), zapping energy, increasing cravings because of drops in neurohormones like serotonin, dopamine and GABA, and slowing your metabolic rate to compensate.
Also, much of this “sluggish metabolism” happens due to changes in thyroid function as we enter peri/menopause. And here is the really awful part. All of these negative changes can take years to repair if you don’t know how or what is happening.
One of the major hidden sources of stress on the thyroid are the very things the diet world are telling you is good for you. Cut carbs/calories and kill yourself with high intensity workouts every day and your thyroid function plummets.
And here is the biggest issue. What do you think happens when most people hit the wall due to over exercising and under eating? They either 1) quit all together and go on a long binge and exercise hiatus or 2) they cut carbs or calories further while ramping up exercise. Both of these scenarios are THE EXACT WRONG THINGS TO DO.
So you are probably wondering what’s the solution? How do you win an seemingly impossible battle with your thyroid? Well, the first step to repairing your it’s function is to restore hormonal balance and your weight loss potential.
So how do you being to do this? Follow this simple formula:
- 3 meals p/day
- 2 meals mostly vegetables and clean lean protein
- 1 regular meal that includes a healthy but small serving (or two) of starch (do it at night and it may help you sleep).
And for exercise:
- 3 Rest and Recovery days per week (hot bath, sauna, massage, time in nature, laughter, restorative yoga, sex/cuddling, slow walking, spa time, etc.)
- 2 B3H+ Reboot weight training workouts per week (to help maintain muscle)
- 1 hour or more of causal walking on most days (slow walking lowers stress hormones and can be very restorative)
These are the most important step towards restoring thyroid and metabolic function. Follow the B3H+ approach for several months and you should be back on track and closer to wearing those skinny jeans.