How to increase your metabolism and burn more calories!
Many people I talk to are eating a really healthy diet and going to the gym on a regular basis and they still can’t let go of their excess fat and achieve their health goals. So what’s the answer? Many would say, clearly that person needs to eat less and exercise more as it is a simple calories in/calories out equation, right?
In truth, for many people in this situation, if they reduce their food intake and exercise more it will make the problem worse by adding stress to the body. This is because many people are eating when they are stressed. They have busy, stressful lives; (which is fast becoming normal these days) and they eat when stressed and often quickly/on the run. When you are stressed your body goes into fight/flight mode which is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. In this mode the body believes it is being chased by a lion and responds accordingly.
When in fight/flight, the body stops circulation to the digestive system and reduces the digestive enzymes required to break down and absorb the nutrients from your food. You therefore don’t absorb important vitamins and minerals and actually excrete important minerals. Your metabolism slows down as it is not safe to lose fat if you are in danger. Your stress hormones like cortisol increase; leading to an increase in blood glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol. Inflammation and weight gain follow, it also drives oxidative stress – premature aging. We also tend to shallow breathe when we are stressed, starving the body from oxygen. Oxygen is clearly required for survival but did you know it is required to “stoke the fire” and burn calories?
Be aware that stress can be caused by physical stress or emotional stress or just being “constantly on the go”; sometimes my clients don’t think they are stressed because they are coping well with life and not “panicking”. People “wear” stress differently so not appearing to be stressed doesn’t mean that you are not experiencing stress. Notice how calm Barack Obama always looked, did you notice how much he aged in the time he was President?
The aim of this blog post is not to make you feel more stressed, there is an easy fix! Next time you have a meal do a stress check. When you sit down (yes, even the busiest person can sit down for ten minutes to eat), ensure you sit upright with your feet planted firmly on the floor. Breathe deeply and slowly for one minute before you eat, close your eyes if this is practical and remind yourself that you are safe and well. It is essential to let your body know you are safe and actually not being chased by a lion. This will ensure you are in rest and digest mode which is controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing your body to digest and absorb the nutrients from your meal, increase your metabolism and your body will know it is safe to let go of weight.
Even just paying attention to what you are eating helps with the digestive process so you are likely to notice as a bonus, less digestive issues like reflux and bloating. Start relaxing before you eat and see what a big difference it makes to your health.
Fiona Kane, Nutritional Medicine Practitioner, Holistic Counsellor and Life Coach at the Informed Health Nutritional Wellbeing Centre