Join Dr. Renee as she welcomes nutrition, fitness, self-awareness/self-care, and integration strategists Allison Pelot and Maja Gottlieb. Together they are the co-hosts of the Integrate Yourself Podcast from which they have guests tell their stories from the female perspective and explore the modern woman's journey in understanding her body and being able to successfully navigate in this world. They also share what they they have learned in their 20 years of coaching, nutrition, and movement experience. Their shared goal is to share inspired conversations with incredible people.
We simply cannot allow ourselves to be who we truly are if we make other people into who we want them to be. Allowing them to disappoint, amaze and confuse me, because they are human just like I am. Whether you're putting other people on a pedestal (which I've done many times) or putting yourself above another person or becoming the authority of another; all are equally destructive.
When I talk to my clients about nutrition, the first thing I ask them is, “How frequently are you eating?” They usually say not frequently enough and some even admit to waiting up to five hours between meals.
Could the key to a healthy metabolism really be as simple as food frequency? I find it’s the most underestimated factor in most people's nutrition programs. Most people simply are not eating enough throughout the day. Maybe it’s our busy stressful lives or maybe we’re just totally distracted and forget to eat all together. Whatever the reason is, it's going to catch up with you at some point in the form of a metabolic slow down.
Let me explain, the issue is blood sugar regulation. I think eating clean organic foods is extremely important, but if you’re not eating consistently enough to balance your blood sugar you’re simply not going to be able to meet your body’s metabolic needs, creating a stress hormone response and a whole cascade of symptoms present themselves after this.
The simple act of not eating enough puts you at risk of blood sugar fluctuations. This sets the stage for hormonal imbalance, autoimmune disease and hypothyroidism which can make it basically impossible to lose weight. There's a chance you may drop some weight in the beginning, but because low blood sugar slows the metabolism you gain the weight back and it becomes harder to keep it off.
My solution is to heal the metabolism first. If you do this first, excess weight will come off when the metabolism and thyroid are healed and working efficiently again. You can do this simply with the right foods in the right amounts and at the right times.
5 Simple Things You Can Do To Heal Your Metabolism
1. Eat every two hours or add a snack between your meals. When you’re training your body to run on glucose instead of adrenaline it’s really important to eat every two hours until your body is able to run more efficiently. If you go too long without food you run the risk of going into a stress hormone mode, raising your cortisol levels. Doing this too often can slow your thyroid, which regulates your metabolism. You can avoid this hormonal fluctuation by eating frequently enough to meet your body’s metabolic needs.
2. Eat food with your coffee in the morning. Eating food with your coffee in the morning helps you offset the adrenaline response after you've consumed caffeine. Adding organic heavy cream and/or gelatin to your coffee will slow down the effects of the caffeine. The fat you get from the heavy cream and the protein you get from the gelatin will help your body better metabolize the caffeine.
3. Be prepared and plan ahead. Plan ahead for your meals and snacks for the week. So many times we end up in a situation where we find yourselves unprepared with no food. You can easily avoid those moments where suddenly you’re in a panic with nothing to eat, by planning ahead, shopping on the weekends and having enough snacks on hand to keep the blood sugar regular throughout the day.
4. Eat balanced ratios of macronutrients in every meal. I suggest including 1 serving of protein, fat and carbohydrate in every meal. As you get to know your metabolism, you can begin to play around with the ratios a bit. Keeping a balance of macronutrients helps you avoid any unnecessary blood sugar fluctuations.
5. Eat before, during and after your workout. Exercise has the potential to create inflammation and lactic acid in the body and cause a temporary drop in blood sugar. In order to minimize this response I always suggest eating a small meal 30 minutes before your workout. You could even sip OJ with gelatin added to it during your work out and eat a meal right after.
Did you know that squatting is your natural version of sitting? Before chairs, squatting was a natural position to rest, give birth, cook, eat, create art and take a bowel movement. Sitting in chairs is a fairly new phenomenon compared to how long humans have been squatting.
I remember as a new mom years ago I would try to get my toddler boys to sit in little Ikea chairs I had bought for them thinking how cute it would be, but they never would. My boys would always opt for the floor and would squat while playing. I don’t think it’s our natural inclination to sit in chairs.
Your ability to squat can determine your ability to eliminate, detox, move your spine and strengthen your pelvic floor. We rarely think about squatting as a part of our everyday movement medicine, but the truth is you really can’t function well without it.
Squatting may be more important than we thought. It’s essential for many bodily movements and functions, like hip mobility, circulation, organ function, fluid movement, pelvic floor strength, for lifting restrictions, elimination, spinal and lymphatic circulation and pumping nutrition throughout the body.
According to Katy Bowman in, “Move Your DNA”,
“Squatting is a non-negotiable ingredient to improving issues with the gut, pelvis, hips and knees. The problem, you see, is not the squat but that we haven’t squatted for the bulk of our lives.”
Sitting in chairs for long periods of time has recently been proven to be more hazardous to your health than smoking. This is a big deal. One reason for this could be that sitting actually makes it so your body no longer has to hold itself up anymore, which means your postural muscles stop working for you. Over time if you sit in the same position enough your body begins to conform into whatever position you sit most in. This creates lots of restrictions, which can lead to stagnation and disease.
I’ve found that sitting on the floor from time to time can actually stimulate your posture muscles enough to start working again. Although it may be uncomfortable at first over time your body gets stronger and you get used it it. In addition to this, working on your squat every day will benefit your health greatly and get you moving in the right direction. Your body needs variety, different positions as well as circulation through walking.
My journey with the squat has been 20 years in the making. It’s only the last 3 years that I’ve been able to really make any headway with it. Up until recently, I had limited myself in my range of motion in my squats, accepting that my knee and ankle were restricted in ways that I would just have to live with for the rest of my life.
A little history on my body…
As an athlete, i’ve experienced total knee reconstruction, a spinal stress fracture, two ankle surgeries and three broken ankles. As a mom, I’ve experienced two child births, an epidural that came with intense digestive distress afterwards, diastasis recti (separation of the rectus abdominis facia) , disbiosis and a disc bulge in the SI/L5 region. After all this, most would consider it a miracle that I can even do a deep squat much less live without restriction and pain.
I started to make movement apart of my day by incorporating my pre-squat exercises which are essential if you sit most of the day and wear any shoes with rigidity and height to them.
Here’s some you can start with…
After this I began to squat with an object elevating my heals slightly off of the floor in order to get my hips lower to the ground without tucking my pelvis. Since I have quite a lot of restriction in my ankle and knee this helps my hips get the full range of motion they need for circulation and mobility. Unweighted squats, because my heals are not touching the floor.
If your pelvis tends to tuck under when you squat try this exercise to repattern your squat then when the pelvis is where it needs to be try your squat again.
Walking with a thin sole that allowed my toes and feet to spread as I walked helped me open my restricted ankle naturally. Along with doing daily calf stretching and spinal decompression stretching. After this it was much easier to squat like I did when I was a kid, getting on the floor more often and walking with more awareness.
I started to park really far away from my destination and would walk. Even if it mean I would have to carry heavy items or groceries to my car a little further. As well, I’d walk to the bank, grocery store, shops, work and restaurants. Even if it took more time out of my day, that just meant I wouldn’t need to spend that time on a machine doing cardio, etc. Plus it was way more enjoyable and I could make it a part of my day.
I began squatting over the toilet with the help of a Squaty potty. I would squat in the morning to wake my body up, during the day while using my computer or coaching clients and at night to unwind my body at the end of the day. I continued to do my pre-squat work which involved my regenerative exercises (SI joint and hip mobility exercises) and spinal decompression stretches to release any restrictions in the facial chain, specifically the extensors.
This allowed me to settle down into my squat much more comfortably over time. As well, get lower in my hips and deeper in my knee and ankle bend without losing balance or stopping short.
In addition to all of this I slowly worked back to wearing shoes with minimal soles. I was always barefoot when I did gymnastics as well as being barefoot every summer when I was a kid. It felt so natural to go back to this way of being.
During the summer I wore very thin soled workout sandals that would allow me to work the muscles of my feet and feel the surface of the ground better. I walked over pebbles, rocks, grass and concrete. This helped my body and nervous system begin to adapt to different surfaces and absorb the ground with more awareness. As well, it allowed my hips to release because my feet where able to do their job. I also started to work on getting up off of the floor without using my hands. Like this exercise below…
Here I’m working my hip mobility in both internal and external rotation. This really helps to integrate muscles in the hip that have not been turning on as well as make space in the pelvis.
I've broken my ankle three times both in high school and college and the restriction as a result had had a direct effect on my back presenting itself as a disc bulge, because my body had to I adapt to the restriction in the ankle over time.
I use the sumo squat exercise below to activate my outer hips to support bringing my knees out slightly so I'm better able to lift the chest more upright and this helps with ankle mobility.
As I was able to be more present with my gait and squat, I was able to even out my ankle flexion on both sides which made walking, running, squatting and jumping much more pleasant and my back pain free.
Coconut oil is one of my favorite super foods. With natural anti-oxidants which protect your body against free radicals, it’s my top choice for a healthy fat.
Veggie oils like soy and canola tend to increase free radicals in the body because of the extremely high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids they contain. This can noticeably speed up the aging process and create inflammation.
Why coconut oil is healthy for you...
Unlike destructive veggie oils, coconut oil can actually slow down the aging process and prevent free radicals from being released through free fatty acid oxidation.
Coconut oil has the potential to balance hormones by boosting metabolism naturally and stimulating the thyroid. Since the thyroid is the master regulator of the metabolism, stimulation of the thyroid can lead to weight loss.
It’s a great saturated fat which is solid at room temperature. Saturated fats are needed throughout the year and especially when there is less sunlight available. Coconut oil can help your body absorb fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin A and D, which can only be absorbed with saturated fats.
Coconut oil has also been proven to lower cholesterol naturally. A healthy cholesterol level is needed in order for the body to make essential hormones that keep you young and healthy.
The many ways I use coconut oil...
I enjoy cooking with it, but you can a spoonful of it or even brush your teeth with it. It’s an excellent choice to use with higher heat cooking too.
Coconut oil acts as a natural anti-fungal and anti-viral in the body. You can use it on your skin and as a mouth rinse.
I mix it with vitamin E to create my own natural toxin free lotion. Use it as a sunscreen in the summertime since it naturally blocks the harmful rays and lets the healthy rays in.
Buying coconut oil...
When buying coconut oil make sure you get organic. Sometimes the processing of coconut oil can be toxic so if it's organic they don't use petroleum to refine it.
“The mere concentration of glucose and sodium in the blood (and of thyroid, and many other substances that aren’t considered to be part of the immune system) can make a tremendous difference in the degree of “immunological” reaction.” Other wise known as proper blood sugar regulation.
What this means…
If you are; calorie counting, not eating frequently enough, not eating the proper food ratios or serving sizes of each (protein, carb, fat) or eating low quality foods, you’re setting yourself up for a food sensitivity and eventually develop the potential to slow your metabolism over time.
Not regulating your blood sugar properly can also lead to elevated levels of inflammation and a slower rate of healing, regeneration and repair in the body. So if you are increasing your exercise load or any stress for that matter it’s essential to increase your calorie intake.
When increasing your frequency of eating I recommend always increasing your calorie intake with organic whole foods that support the thyroid.
For more information about what those foods are and how to heal your own metabolism, check out my nutritional coaching sessions.
When I talk to a client for the first time I always ask them, “How frequently are you eating?” They usually answer with, some days I wait up to 5 hours without eating. I'm always blown away by this and at the same time share compassion. We live in a busy time, this is why some people put off eating or taking care of themselves to get things done.
But can you really get things done when you have no energy? Nourishing yourself has to be a top priority if you're going to strive to have more energy and a healthy well functioning metabolism. Contrary to popular belief, your body needs food on a regular basis in order to regulate your blood sugar and keep all systems functioning optimally.
If you have trouble losing or gaining weight you may want to start by nourishing the body on a daily basis. Eating a small meal every two hours then tapering off once your metabolism begins to function more efficiently.
Even though food frequency seems like such a simple solution, I find it’s the most underestimated factor in most people's nutrition program. People are just not doing it. Maybe it’s because of our busy stressful lives or maybe it's because calorie counting has been drilled into our psyche as the best way to lose weight and get healthy. Whatever the reason, at some point our bodies are going to slow down if we’re not giving them enough fuel.
I think eating clean organic foods is really important, but if you’re not eating frequently enough to balance your blood sugar each day, you’re simply not going to be able to meet your body’s metabolic needs, thus slowing your metabolism down and storing more calories as fat.
This can also sets the stage for hormonal imbalance and thyroid slow down which can make it basically impossible to lose weight.
The goal is to heal the metabolism first. Excess weight will come off when the metabolism and thyroid are healed and working efficiently again. You can do this simply with the right foods in the right amounts and at the right times.
5 Simple Things You Can Do To Heal Your Metabolism
1. Eat every 2 hours. When you’re training your body to run on glucose instead of adrenaline it’s really important to eat every 2 hours until your body is able to run more efficiently. If you go too long without food you run the risk of going into an adrenaline mode and your body can go into it’s cortisol reserves. Doing this too often can slow down your thyroid which is what regulates your metabolism. You want to avoid this hormonal fluctuation by eating frequently enough to meet your body’s metabolic needs. This will depend on the person.
2. Eat food with your coffee in the morning. It’s ideal to eat food with your morning coffee to avoid a blood sugar spike. I also recommend adding organic heavy cream and/or gelatin to your coffee to slow down the effects of the caffeine. The nutrients you get from the heavy cream and gelatin will help your body metabolize the coffee.
3. Be prepared. Plan ahead for your meals and snacks for the week. You can easily avoid moments where you realize you have nothing to eat. Because you waited so long to eat your body rebounds by overeating at the next meal. You can avoid this by simply planning ahead. Shopping on the weekends and having enough snacks on hand to keep the blood sugar regular throughout the day.
4. Eat balanced ratios of macronutrients in every meal. What are macronutrients? It's your protein, fats and carbohydrates. Each one should be represented at every meal to avoid blood sugar fluctuations.
5. Eat before, during and after your workout. Exercise can create inflammation and lactic acid in the body as well as cause a temporary drop in blood sugar. In order to minimize this response I suggest eating a small meal 30 minutes before your workout. You could even sip OJ with gelatin added to it during your work out and eat a meal right after.
Caffeine is commonly classified as a drug by mainstream nutrition. This can only be true because of how it’s used. According to Dr. Ray Peat, any essential nutrient used in isolation, can be used as a drug for any specific effect on the person that wouldn’t normally be the case if eaten with other foods. If used differently, could caffeine become a nutrient?
He states, The main reason coffee gives people the “jitters” is because they drink their coffee without any fat, like milk, cream or butter and without food.
According to Ray Peat , “The bad effects of coffee are usually due to drinking large doses in a short amount of time” Drinking coffee on an empty stomach increases the cellular consumption of glucose and then causes an increase of adrenaline. Over producing adrenaline can then lead to exhaustion, a less efficient energy metabolism (slow down) and a depletion of glycogen stores. The liver requires glycogen to convert hormones. Your Thyroid then takes the hormones your liver converted and produces energy. Your thyroid and metabolism depend on this process to work optimally.
So what does all of this mean? Caffeine can be really beneficial to your metabolism and energy if taken with milk, heavy cream or butter and by eating food with your coffee.
Below is an example of how I drink my coffee. My recipe for amazing coffee that has been turned into a beneficial nutrient is to add organic heavy cream, collagen and coconut sugar.
Benefits of caffeine:
- Increases progesterone concentration and production
- Balances blood sugar
- Protects the liver from alcohol
- Increases metabolic energy
- Improves mood
- Highly protective against cancer, including estrogen induced breast cancer
- Lower incidence of thyroid disease
- Provides magnesium and vitamin B1
- Improves athletic performance
- Protects against stress induced cell death without interfering with normal cell turnover
- Can prevent nerve cell death
- Prevents free radical damage
How I take my coffee:
- 2-3 Tbsp Organic Heavy Cream
- 1 Tbsp Great Lakes Gelatin
- Sugar to taste
You can also add...
Getting enough sleep is a big deal. Restful deep sleep is essential for restoring the physical and mental body. Any excess physical, mental or emotional stress you experience gets repaired when you sleep at night. If you’re not able to get enough sleep to restore your body, your body responds with stress hormones, pushing you into a continual state of inflammation. Indicating to your body that it’s detrimental to your survival to stay up and be wired.
Here's what you can do to get better sleep.
Get to bed to early
Getting to bed no later than 10:00 pm will help you reap the full benefits of your restorative time for both the body and the mind. Your physical repair time occurs from 10:00 pm – 2:00 am and your mental repair time occurs from 2:00 am – 6:00 am.
If you’re getting to bed too late, start by going to bed 15 minutes earlier every night until you’re going to bed at 10:00 pm on a regular basis. This allows your body can gradually adjust to the change.
Get Rid of All Distractions Before Bed
Assess your nightly routine. If you’re getting any screen time before bed this can negatively effect your ability to wind down and get to sleep at night. The light that you get from a computer screen or TV can create a cortisol response which could keep you from getting into a restful sleep for at least two hours afterward.
I suggest shutting down your computer two hours before you begin winding down and turning down the lights. Shut down your computer after dinner or come up with a time that works for you. If you shut it down you’re less likely to go through the trouble of turning it back on.
Turn down the light
Start turning down the lights at dusk. As the day comes to a close train your body to wind down by giving it less stimulation with your lighting. Bright lighting at night can trick your body into thinking it’s day time. I recommend using a salt rock lamp which emits a softer soothing light or use candles.
Become aware of the value you get from sleep
Most likely you feel better. Consider this a value and a priority. You can only repair your body with enough sleep. Just remember anything you feel like you miss out on during the night by staying up late you end up missing out on the next two days or more depending on how often you stay up late. Your sleep deficit builds up the more sleep you miss out on. This will negatively effect your concentration, focus and energy in the days following.
Take a Hot Bath
An epsom salt bath is wonderful for winding down at night. The magnesium is great for relaxing your muscles and nervous system. Try adding lavender essential oil which is a great for calming your nervous system along with candles and some soothing music.
Stretch Your Body
Stretching can be most beneficial right before bed. Since you’ll be laying down in a relaxed position for about 8 hours your body will most likely hold the stretch better. Stretching also calms and relaxes the body naturally.
I get on the floor every night and pick out three stretches. Sitting on the floor motivates me to move around and stretch, whereas if I were on the sofa I’d be way more comfortable and less likely to want to move. I also recommend Feldenkris movements or Qi gong before bed. These help to calm the nerves and connects you to your breathing for better sleep.
Could sugar intolerance, your inability to metabolize sugar and carbohydrates, be the problem instead of sugar itself? Sugar intolerance is a malabsorption issue, leading to fatigue, bloating, gastrointestinal distress and anemia.
Consider the issue could be you’ve been oxidizing free fatty acids for some time now, producing too much lactic acid and thus slowing your energy metabolism down over time. Caused by eating too much protein and not enough healthy carbohydrates, eating the wrong fats and by doing too much activity without replenishing your energy reserves. Basically burning yourself out.
I’ve been one of those people. Years ago when I was experimenting with the low carb diet, I eliminated dairy, fruit, root veggies, grains and anything that contained sugar. This was my "so called" solution to what I thought was candida.
I felt great at first, but that great feeling didn't last long. Eating soon became a joyless experience and I quickly fell into a state of depression and chronic low energy. After doing some research, I discovered cutting carbs was the last thing I needed to do if I wanted to heal my candida and fungal issue and realizing that I may have made it worse by trying to "fix" the problem.
Looking back on it, I'm not sure what shocked me most, the fact that I'd been working so hard at something I thought was healthy but was really making me sick or the fact that I now needed to consider eating sugar again.
It took me a long time to process this but I soon realized what I needed was to redefine what "I believed was healthy", not what had been marketed to me as healthy. I was on a path to discover my truth about what was healthy for me. At first it felt like I was heading into uncharted territory since there wasn't much information available about it. At that time the consensus was that sugar was bad and the recommended advice was to go low carb. To be honest that's still the case, but what's changed is my perspective and how I now see sugar as a food that can aid the metabolism in it's function.
What I found out...
We produce higher serotonin and adrenaline levels when we either skip meals (fast) or skip any of the three macro-nutrients (protein, carbs and fat) in your meals. A significant and frequent blood sugar drop can create an addiction to dieting (just by chronically raising serotonin levels), low energy, low metabolism and muscle wasting (catabolic state).
The simplicity of this was surprising to me. Although the biochemistry can get really complex, the therapy doesn't have to be. I've found we can easily make the therapy more complex than it needs to be. It surprisingly comes down to proper blood sugar regulation and replenishing your body with enough fuel (food) on a daily basis.
If you’re cutting your essential macro-nutrients out or fasting, your energy will consistently come from adrenaline and cortisol instead of glucose. You can survive for some time off of adrenaline (which is a by-product of fat oxidation) but ideally glucose is our body’s preferred fuel for the brain, energy metabolism and recovery. Since glucose gets stored in the muscles and liver, your body doesn't have to take resources from the tissue itself to produce energy.
Glucose is also what your thyroid and liver rely on to function well. This sets the stage for anti-aging protective hormones to be produced like pregnenalone, progesterone and DHEA and more reserves for energy production and better recovery. Not to mention better brain function and hair and skin, since your body's not in a hyper adrenaline state. It's the best way to slow down the aging process.
On the other hand, if you lack reserves (glucose storage in the liver and muscles), there's absolutely nothing you can do to motivate yourself to workout, eat healthy and take care of yourself. The energy is simply not there. This is why I think most people feel they've failed, you just can't will your way through it because it simply comes down to a lack of energy.
The science behind sugar intolerance….
If you’re producing too much lactic acid from low carb eating, the cell begins to favor the oxidation of fat rather than glucose, which doesn’t produce as much carbon dioxide (needed to transport and liberate oxygen). Leading you down a path of reduced function, low energy and hormonal imbalance. A similar process happens in cancer cells – Lactic acid turns into fat then the body oxidizes the fat.
We’re supposed to be able to metabolize sugar well, but instead the foods we’re presented with have missing parts, like separated macronutrients and manufactured/modified sugar. This could be why our bodies have such a hard time metabolizing sugar. Not because sugar is bad, but simply because our metabolisms are not functioning at their best.
The good news is there's a way to get your body back on track if you’ve hit an all time energy low. Considering the type of carbohydrate you choose is the most crucial factor. Getting your healthy carbs from fruit, root veggies, squash and dairy instead of grains with sugar added and high fructose corn syrup can make all the difference in the world when it comes to repairing your metabolism.
Too much starch inhibits digestion and promotes endotoxins in the gut. Energy from starch (grains and legumes ) is pure glucose which requires insulin to metabolize. Energy from fructose and sucrose has been proven not to require insulin to metabolize your food, therefore, does not create insulin resistance.
If you're constantly requiring insulin to metabolize the food you eat you damage your metabolism over time and your body’s energy systems become less efficient affording less energy production.
Begin by taking in more beneficial real food carbohydrates, like the ones I mentioned above, to offset the lactic acid and free fatty acid production. Doing this slowly (if you've been avoiding them) as to give your body time to adjust and acclimate so your body can produce enzymes to break down the carbohydrates. Always eat clean protein, saturated fat and healthy carbohydrates together, never leave one out.
In addition trade out foods that contain high polyunsaturated fatty acid (vegetable fats - canola oil, soybean oil, etc.) concentration for those that have a high saturated (animal and fruit) fats content. Saturated fat is a major contributor to blood sugar regulation as it aids in this process and helps you recover from stress.