Dairy's not so scary
When I talk to my clients about nutrition initially, the first question 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. Many people are simply not eating enough throughout the day.
Maybe it’s our busy stressful lives or fad diets (like intermittent fasting and keto) that promise instant results or maybe we’re just totally distracted and forget to eat all together.
Whatever the reason is, the consequence of doing this over and over again will lead to a metabolic slow down. And trust me, when that happens it’s hard to get back up.
Let me explain… the issue is blood sugar regulation.
I think eating clean organic foods is incredibly important, but if your metabolism is slow and you’re not already eating consistently enough to balance your blood sugar (to avoid hypoglycemia) on a daily basis, you’re simply not going to be able to meet your body’s metabolic needs (energy requirements).
This creates inflammation and a perfect storm for metabolic slow down.
It’s a problem because chronically stressing your systems day in and day out (with a byproduct of adrenaline and cortisol) leads to a whole cascade of symptoms. Many of which you’d be pretty surprised to know.
Muscle mass loss
Rapid heart beat
Diminishing ability to recover
Low thyroid function
Can’t gain weight (depleted state)
Severe issues, like fibromyalgia, diabetes, MS, etc.
And the list goes on
The simple act of not eating frequently enough puts you at risk for chronic hypoglycemia. This sets the stage for hormonal imbalance, severe mood swings (we call this getting hangry at our house) autoimmune disease and hypothyroidism which can make it basically impossible to lose weight.
Dr. Broda Barnes talked about this in his book, “Hope For Hypoglycemia”. He discovered after seeing many people who had been turned away from their doctors (telling them either nothing was wrong with them or that they were clinically crazy) that it had more to do with blood sugar regulation and supporting the liver by supplying it with enough glucose for hormonal conversion.
Glucose is also our major fuel for the brain.
Your brain only runs on glucose so it makes sense that you begin to lose cognitive abilities and get irritable when you need fuel.
When you get foggy brain, your brain is talking to you. It’s telling you it needs more fuel.
There's a chance you may drop some weight with diets like intermittent fasting and keto, but it’s due to you putting your body under an unnecessary stress that will slow your systems (digestive, thyroid, metabolic rate) down to conserve energy (because your body thinks it’s starving)
There’s then a greater chance you’ll gain the weight back and it becomes harder to keep it off because now you’ve damaged your metabolism.
It’s a pretty significant sacrifice with dire consequences if you if you ask me.
I’m here to tell you there’s an easier way to do this.
I think what sounds like a more viable solution is to heal your metabolism by gradually training your body use energy more efficiently again (like you did when you were a kid).
If you do this first, excess weight will come off when the metabolism and thyroid are healed and the liver is working efficiently again. You can do this simply with the right foods in the right amounts and at the right times.
Here’s my simple strategy for increasing your metabolism
1. Eat Frequent smaller meals:
I know you’ve probably heard this one before but it’s true. The quickest and most easy way you can begin to raise your metabolic rate it to eat every two hours or add a snack between your meals.
When you’re training your body to run on glucose (for more efficient energy production) instead of adrenaline it’s 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 and you 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 on a daily basis.
2. Eat Breakfast:
You’ve probably heard this one too.
Eating breakfast will break the fast of the night and help you curb your cortisol response so it's at a manageable level for the morning time. If you drink coffee, eating food with your coffee in the morning helps you offset the adrenaline response after you've consumed caffeine.
Adding organic heavy cream or half-n-half and gelatin to your coffee will slow down the adrenalizing 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 and you’ll reap the benefits.
3. Food Prep:
I can not stress this more. Getting prepared ahead of time can be what saves you in the end.
Plan ahead so you’re prepared for anything.
Prepare your meals and snacks for the week. So many times we end up in a situation where we find ourselves unprepared with no food (aka, hangry)
You can easily avoid those moments where you find yourself suddenly in a panic with nothing to eat. By planning ahead, shopping on the weekends and having enough snacks on hand to keep your blood sugar regular throughout the day you’re golden.
I also suggest organizing and cleaning out your kitchen from time to time or even seasonally. Cleaning out your fridge and pantry pretty often so you can reset and feel more clarity when it comes to your food preparation.
4. Don't skip a macronutrient
This one you may not have heard before but I assure you it’s one of the most important factors.
Mainly because there’s so much promotion in the way of cutting a macro out to gain quick results (example, cutting your carbs)
The simple truth is that your body needs all three to function optimally. Now can you make better choices when it comes to the types of macros you choose, yes you can.
Mind you, the better choices for carbs that will not fluctuate blood sugar are fruits, roots and dairy (not grains).
My recommendations regarding macros initially are to include 1 serving of protein from clean animal sources (not just meat, dairy and eggs too), 1 serving of saturated fat and 1 serving of the carbohydrates I listed above 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.
Fun fact: You can get lots of accessible protein from white potatoes and mushrooms too.
5. Keep your body fueled when you exercise:
This is important because your blood sugar will drop when you workout.
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 easy to digest 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.
Some suggestions for what to eat before your workout can be:
Fruit and milk (smoothie)
Eggs, Cheese and fruit
Cottage cheese and fruit
Greek yoghurt and fruit
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.
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.