The Truth About Metabolism: The six reasons you gain weight and how to fix them.
In part one of the Truth About Metabolism, we talked about how many people blame gaining weight or not being able to lose it on a “slow metabolism” and that our metabolism really isn’t the problem. We discussed how our body is like a tree and that if we aren’t watering a tree we can’t just pluck the leaves off and expect it to be ok. There are bigger issues that need to be addressed.
Weight gain is the same. We can’t just focus on losing weight through exercising more and eating less to try and “lose weight”. There are bigger issues going on in our bodies causing us to gain weight. And if we want to lose weight permanently we have to know what those issues are and how to solve them.
The Six Root Issues Of Why You Weight Gain
Remember weight gain isn’t just because of a slow metabolism, age, or just because you don’t exercise enough.
So what is it about?
Well, there are 6 main root issues that all work together and are connected to cause our body to store fat.
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Poor digestion
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Hormone imbalances
Though other things can contribute, these main 6 cover the majority of what we need to know to be able to lose weight, optimize our health, and keep it that way as we age.
Want to learn how you can optimize your metabolism to break through your weight loss plateau in 6-8 weeks? Click here to schedule your Free Metabolism Assessment.
1 – Inflammation: The Sneaky Saboteur of Your Metabolism
Most people know when they sprain their ankle it gets swollen and inflamed. You get a cut, it gets red and inflamed. Inflammation in the short term helps heal our body so it can be a really good thing— it’s part of our immune system. But chronic inflammation wreaks havoc on our body and often we don’t even know we have it happening. There are a few major problems with chronic inflammation and weight gain specifically.
- Inflammation causes our mitochondria to be dysfunctional. Remember from biology class that our mitochondria are the energy factory of our cell? If our energy factories aren’t working our metabolism as well as much of our body doesn’t work correctly either. And when one thing gets off everything can be affected as well. So when your mitochondria stop working correctly so does your metabolism.1
- Inflammation causes insulin resistance – Insulin (as you’ll learn below) is critical for our body to convert sugar/carbs consumed into energy for our body. When our body becomes resistant to insulin we can’t convert the sugar into energy and our body starts to store it. We also start to produce more insulin which tells our body to store more fat.
- Inflammation causes leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone your body produces to tell you to stop eating when you’re full and helps regulate your metabolism. When leptin resistance happens, glucose and fat metabolism are impaired and weight gain and insulin resistance start to happen. And because your brain doesn’t signal that you’re full— you keep eating.2
2 – The Sweet Truth: How Blood Sugar Imbalances Affect Your Metabolism
Have you ever experienced energy crashes or intense sugar cravings, especially after meals or in the afternoon? These may be signs of blood sugar imbalances.
When we eat food, especially sugar and carbs, our body breaks them down into glucose, which then a hormone called insulin helps the glucose get into our bloodstream and provides energy to our cells.
This is an amazing process but here’s the problem— when your body starts producing too much insulin, it tells your body to stop burning its fat storage (inhibits metabolism) and instead, absorb some of the fatty acids and glucose in the blood and turn them into more body fat.
In essence, too much insulin tells your body to store fat.
In addition when blood sugar spikes go too high and too often, too much insulin is produced. When this happens it becomes harmful to the body and your body becomes resistant towards the insulin.
Which is what we call insulin resistance. And when it gets bad enough we call it type 2 diabetes.
When your body is resistant to insulin it makes it harder to lower your blood sugar. It then makes your body produce more insulin trying to lower the blood sugar. Inevitably making the body store more fat.
In addition — when you have elevated blood sugars your body also starts a cascade effect of increasing cortisol which makes blood sugar continue on a roller coaster and also causes inflammation, which produces more cortisol which then perpetuates the whole cycle… Again, remember the tree analogy? It’s not just as simple as one symptom.
Not to mention when you are insulin resistant you crave sugar and more food because all the sugar is stuck in your blood, because insulin can’t bring it into the cell when it’s resistant. Then you eat more which then perpetuates the whole problem. And we especially want more sugar and carbs to try and give us more energy.
Now I’m not advocating for a no-carb or even low-carb diet per se, because I love potatoes. However, we need to understand the process to know what causes fat storage to know how to address it.
3 – Poor Digestion: The Gut-Metabolism Connection
Digestion is a crucial process that directly and indirectly affects our metabolic rate and weight gain.
Most people think that problems with digestion are only constipation or maybe diarrhea. But it’s much more complex than that, especially when it comes to weight and metabolism.
Here’s 4 different ways digestion plays a critical role. There’s more but we’ll start here.
- Nutrient Absorption and deficiencies: If we’re not digesting properly it can hinder the absorption of essential nutrients from food. If we don’t get enough nutrients to our cells and organs they start to break down and our body can’t function correctly. This is particularly true when it comes to your thyroid, adrenals, and immune system. These systems regulate blood sugars and inflammation which are critical.
- Gut Microbiome Imbalance: The gut microbiome is a complex ecosystem of microorganisms residing in the digestive tract. It plays a crucial role in digestion and metabolism. When the microbiome gets out of balance it can lead to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. If there’s not enough good bacteria that can cause problems. If there’s too much bad bacteria like SIBO or candida, that can cause problems as well with our metabolism, cravings, weight gain, and much more.Depending on what bacteria is in your gut, you can either lose or gain weight— that’s how important our gut is.3
- Increased Inflammation: Poor digestion can increase inflammation in the digestive system. Chronic inflammation disrupts hormonal balance and metabolic processes, leading to metabolic dysfunction and weight gain. Inflammatory responses triggered by poor digestion can also affect insulin sensitivity, impairing the body’s ability to effectively regulate blood sugar levels.
- Hormonal Imbalances: Digestion plays a role in regulating hormone levels that impact the metabolism. For example, the hormone leptin, which helps regulate appetite and energy expenditure, is produced by our fat cells— but a significant amount is produced by our stomach. Poor digestion can disrupt the production and signaling of hormones involved in metabolization, leading to imbalances. Hormonal imbalances can affect appetite control, energy expenditure, and fat storage.4,5
4 – Toxins – the “not-so-talked-about” reason for belly fat
The modern world bombards us with toxins through polluted air and water, chemicals in cleaning products, soaps, and shampoos, and the foods we eat. Toxins accumulate in our body, disrupting various metabolic and hormonal processes.6
When a toxin enters our body whether through ingesting, breathing, or through our skin (yes our skin is an organ and absorbs what we put on it) our body has ways of keeping us safe. It Puts those toxins in our fat cells.7
When we try to lose weight without detoxifying it’s very challenging. And even if we can lose weight but we don’t get the toxins out, the toxins get circulated back through our body.
When toxins build up they can cause your liver to get backed up and sluggish. A sluggish liver causes digestion to break down. Poor digestion and toxic exposure increase inflammation.
Then, the more inflammation kicks in the more it affects our digestion which stops working correctly. That again affects more inflammation, hormones, etc, which all spike blood sugar levels, and all this affects your cells and that stops working correctly which then affects your liver and you can’t detoxify and it perpetuates the entire problem.
Want to learn how you can optimize your metabolism to break through your weight loss plateau in 6-8 weeks? Click here to schedule your Free Metabolism Assessment.
5 – Nutrient Deficiencies – Overfed but undernourished.
We briefly discussed how poor digestion can lead to nutrient deficiencies, but there are other reasons why we become nutrient deficient so it needs its own section.
Statistics show that nearly one-third of the U.S. population is at risk of deficiency in at least one vitamin, or has anemia. Even more are at risk of multiple deficiencies.8
What people don’t understand is that nutrient deficiencies can cause weight gain by itself.9
Even more important is that we can become nutrient deficient not because we aren’t eating enough food. (Though I do see that a lot with my clients before they come to me they are chronically under-eating trying to lose weight). But it’s often because the kinds of food we are eating don’t have the nutrients our bodies need.
Over the last 50 years in the U.S., the amount of food we are consuming has risen. But that doesn’t mean we’re more nourished. It’s quite the opposite.10
We are eating more but are becoming more undernourished.
Again, the reason is not because of how much food it is, it’s the kind and quality of our food. We can drive down the road and get a huge hamburger, fries, and soda which tastes great, fills us up, and provides calories for our body, but does not provide much in terms of the vitamins and minerals that are needed to make us healthy. It actually does the opposite.
Of course, that’s just one example, but the truth is the majority of packaged and processed foods in our grocery stores and restaurants don’t have many nutrients for us to use. And even the packaged food that has been “fortified” doesn’t really help because the nutrients are not actually coming from real food. They are nutrients put into the food that our bodies don’t use the same way and can even be harmful.11
The more foods we eat that are void of nutrients, the less we are nourishing our bodies. The more undernourished we become, the more we experience problems with our metabolism, inflammation, hormones, and blood sugars. And the more processed food we eat the more toxins we are exposed to.
6 – Hormone Imbalances – Not just a menopause problem
When you say hormones most people think of menopause or when it’s that time of the month for women. Yes, menopause can make it difficult to lose weight but hormones play a critical role in every part of our health— especially in regulating our metabolism.12
But when it comes to weight gain and metabolism, disruptions in hormone levels with your thyroid, insulin resistance, or cortisol dysregulation, are going to play a huge role and can slow down our metabolic rate and contribute to weight gain. Stress, inadequate sleep, poor dietary choices, and environmental factors can all influence our hormone balance.
And as we’ve discussed above each of the factors plays a role in affecting each other.
Inflammation impacts blood sugars, poor digestion, and hormones. Hormone imbalances cause more inflammation, blood sugar problems, etc. Toxins disrupt hormones and cause inflammation, insulin problems, digestive issues, and more.
And the cycle goes on and on and on.
Address the cause and the symptom (weight gain) goes away.
Remember the principle of the tree. If the tree is dying due to lack of water, we don’t just try to pluck the leaves off and call it good. That’s what too many people do with weight loss. We have to address the root issues and the symptoms will take care of themselves.
Now that we know the 6 major causes of weight gain and many other health issues we’re seeing, let’s break down what we should do for each one.
- Blood Sugar Imbalances:
- In general eating whole food over processed food will have less added sugar.
- Opt for a balanced meal plan that includes proteins, high-fiber carbohydrates like non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats, organic grass-fed dairy (if tolerated), and some fruit. This is not all we should eat, but it should be our foundation.
- When you do eat carbohydrates, make sure to eat your non-starchy vegetables first. The fiber slows the absorption of sugar and lessens the spike.
- Incorporating regular physical activity into your routine helps improve insulin resistance but doing 5-10 minutes of brisk walking after your meal will help lower the blood sugar spike.
- Drinking 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before you eat will slow stomach emptying which will slow sugar spikes and require less insulin.
- Avoid sugar substitutes like artificial sweeteners as they can have a similar impact on insulin levels as sugar.
- Increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods, such as proteins, non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats and oils, and some fruit. Other things like ginger, turmeric, omega 3’s, and tart cherries can help reduce inflammation.
- Engage in regular exercise to reduce inflammation and promote overall well-being.
- Practice stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
- Limit your consumption of processed and sugary foods that can trigger inflammation in your body.
- Poor Digestion:
- Consume a fiber-rich diet that includes non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes.
- Consider adding fiber, probiotics, and digestive enzymes to your supplement routine.
- Consider incorporating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, or kefir to support a healthy gut microbiome.
- Practice mindful eating, chewing your food thoroughly, and eating in a relaxed environment.
- Minimize your exposure to toxins by using natural cleaning products, opting for organic produce, and filtering your drinking water.
- Where possible, buy meats and dairy that are organic, grass-fed (beef/bison/dairy), wild-caught (fish), and pastured/free range (chicken/eggs)… it makes a difference.
- Incorporate regular exercise and sweating to help eliminate toxins through your skin. Sweating can also happen through a sauna or even a hot bath.
- Support your body’s natural detoxification process by getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night, sunlight during the day (especially morning), and by consuming foods rich in antioxidants, such as berries, dark leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables.
- Nutrient Deficiencies:
- Eat in a way that focuses on getting a variety of nutrient-dense foods such as proteins, vegetables, fruits, organic grass-fed dairy if tolerated, and healthy fats.
- Consider incorporating high-quality supplements like magnesium, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, and Vitamin K2.
- Optimize nutrient absorption by maintaining a healthy gut through proper digestion and gut health-promoting foods as mentioned above.
- Regularly monitoring your nutrient levels through blood tests is a good idea to identify and address any deficiencies.
- Hormone Imbalances:
- Prioritize stress management techniques like regular exercise, meditation, and sufficient sleep to support hormonal balance.
- Consume a balanced diet that includes adequate protein, healthy fats, and a variety of fruits and vegetables to support hormone production and regulation.
- Practice good sleep hygiene by establishing a consistent sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine.
- And by doing the other 5 things your hormones will start to balance more naturally.
Remember, achieving a healthy metabolism and sustainable weight loss requires a holistic approach. By implementing these actionable steps and addressing the root causes of a slow metabolism, you can optimize your body’s systems, unlock your potential, and embark on a successful weight loss journey.
Putting this all together can sometimes be tricky as each person is different and may need to adjust and tailor things to your specific needs. This is what we do in our Metabolism Reboot Program is work closely with people to address these root imbalances in a very easy and sustainable way that gets guaranteed results. Our average results are 24.5 LBS of fat loss for women in 6 weeks and 30.8 for men. You can schedule a Free Metabolism Assessment call to get started creating a road map to resetting your metabolism and finally reaching your goals.