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