Article by LaTricia Morris, Author and Illustrator of The Good, The Bad & The Broccoli and It Came from the Cupboard, Founder of See Kids Thrive and Eden Life Ministries, Certified Integrative Wellness Counselor, Personal Trainer & Boxing Coach.
Ever wonder how some people seem to hop in the gym today only to be ripped weeks later? (okay, so that might be a slight exaggeration but let’s face it, it’s just ridiculous how quick some people shed pounds that some of us have to topple mountains to get rid of.)
If you’re thinking it’s all in their genes, stop. While genetics can play a great role in tendencies to retain or shed excess weight, there are ways you can biohack your own system to get that metabolism revved and ready to blast those pesky pounds and inches.
Biohack your health and wellness efforts by applying a little S.P.E.E.D.
In a 2007 research review, Knutson et al. found that chronic partial sleep loss could increase the risk of obesity and diabetes via dysregulation of glucose metabolism (i.e., insulin resistance) and altered neuroendocrine control of appetite resulting in excessive food intake and decreased energy expenditure.
The average adult needs between 7.5 and 8 hours of quality sleep each night. This can vary based on health status and additional needs for recovery, such as during periods of intense training or recovery from injuries.
Stress adaptation requires a coordinated series of responses mediated through the hypothalamus-pituitary-axis (HPA) and sympathetic nervous system, which act to maintain homeostasis and protect against chronic diseases.
Chronic hyperactivation of the HPA axis (which can occur with things like low calorie dieting) has been linked to visceral fat deposition, insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, altered lipid profiles, and coronary artery disease. Chronic stress can also lead to increased food intake, as well as relapses and overeating after weight loss has been achieved by dieting.
There are hundreds of synthetic chemicals currently used for agricultural and industrial applications that are leading to widespread environmental contamination. These include antimicrobials, pesticides/herbicides, plasticizers and flame retardants. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can disrupt hormonal balance and result in developmental and reproductive abnormalities. In addition, some studies link EDC exposure to obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. The Environmental Working Group has a list of the “dirty dozen” endocrine disruptors and an app that identifies these toxic ingredients in cosmetics and other personal-care items.
Limit exposure to EDCs by avoiding chemical laden products and choosing organic when it comes to produce and hygiene products (if you shouldn’t put it in your mouth, you shouldn’t put it on your skin) which are highly sprayed and animals that are fed conventional feed.
Take the path of most resistance to drive your metabolism through the roof!
Muscle burns a lot of energy. The greater the muscle mass, the higher the caloric expenditure in every move you make. Yes, EVERY move, from walking to the car, coming up the stairs, hitting the track or hitting your best friend – more muscle to move demands the body lend greater energy to produce the movement.
The most effective tool for increasing or maintaining lean body mass (LBM) is resistance training. Maintaining or increasing LBM is essential for a healthy metabolism. It also reduces the tendency to regain weight and is important for maintaining adequate body function with aging.
Resistance exercise has the potential to improve metabolic disorders and reduce the need for medications associated with being overweight (e.g., diabetes and hypertension). It can also reduce abdominal adiposity and biomarkers for cardiovascular disease.
There are a number of ways to biohack your diet to increase your metabolism. While there are a plethora of diets and trends out there, the best approach, as has remained true for THOUSANDS of years, is to enjoy a diet founded on whole food principles. Many trend diets only continue to prove very harmful to the body, no matter how much better people feel at their onset. You really don’t need any one of them. Many experts would simplify it by saying “eat a little bit of everything but not too much of anything.”
Eating a diet comprised of whole foods, eliminating anything processed or refined, helps to restore the body’s natural mechanisms to regulate energy, appetite, weight, hormonal balance and so much more! As you work to get back to a sound and simple foundation of high quality foods, you can work to fine-tune your diet based on what works best for you (i.e., maybe less dairy or more nuts/seeds…)
Some added dietary biohack tips include:
Don’t cut too many calories
When you eat less than you need for basic biological functions (roughly 1,200 calories for the average adult), your body adjusts by slowing your metabolism down. In addition, it can elevate cortisol levels, which leads to the breakdown of lean body mass to meet energy needs, and cravings for fat and sugary foods. Low calorie diets also run the risk of micronutrient deficiencies over time. Limit caloric deficits to no more than 500 cal/day shy of your baseline for sustainable weightloss. Diets consisting of less than 1200 cal/day should only be implemented under the close supervision of your healthcare provider.
Consuming enough calories is critical in keeping your metabolism up and giving you the energy needed to press through those awesome workouts (which happen to rev your calorie burn all the more).
Don’t forget the fiber
Plant-based diets that are inherently high in fiber can increase fat burning. Colorful vegetables and fruits also have numerous phytonutrients, which can reduce inflammation, resulting in better health and the prevention of many diseases. The CDC states that only about 1 in 10 Americans are getting enough fruits and vegetables. They further state, “Seven of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States are from chronic diseases. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables daily can help reduce the risk of many leading causes of illness and death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity.”
Current recommendations say we should be eating 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (16-18 for athletic types). In other words: EAT YOUR PLANTS!
Hydrate or Die
A German study found that drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%. The study concluded that drinking 2 liters of water per day would enhance energy expenditure and that the thermogenic effect of water should be considered in weight loss programs. Adequate hydration is necessary for a number of functions, including supporting proper detoxification and elimination, and supporting higher energy levels. You should be drinking AT LEAST half your body weight in ounces (ex: 150 lb person should drink a min. of 75 ounces). Increase water intake with exertion, consumption of diuretics (coffee, tea, etc.), high sugar/carbohydrate/salty foods or prescription medications, all of which can dehydrate the body.
Eat more organic foods
Researchers report that dieters who consume foods with the most organochlorines (chemicals from pesticides which are stored in fat cells) experience a greater than normal dip in metabolism because the toxins interfere with the energy-burning process. Other research hints that pesticides disrupts the gut biome and can trigger weight gain. Choose organic in place of highly sprayed foods whenever possible.
Don’t Skip the Fats
Recommendations for “low-fat” are archaic at best. Research has found that not only does a low-fat diet NOT result in weight loss or improved heart health, it runs the risk of doing far greater harm than good, including contributing to an increase in overall calorie consumption.
We need fat for hormone production, lubrication of the joints, neurological function, nutrient assimilation and more. A healthy diet consists of 20-35% fats from quality sources. Avoid margarine and other refined or hydrogenated oils, limit saturated fats (the long-chain fatty acids found in animal products NOT so much the medium-chain fatty acids as found in coconut). Be sure to include foods such as flaxseeds, avocados, nuts and seeds which also come with fiber and protein, helping to increase satiety while supporting better overall health.
Eat some bugs.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables helps to create a favorable gut biome which has been found to have a direct relation to weight and metabolic functions. Make sure to include prebiotics and probiotics into your daily diet. Supplementing with a probiotic is also a good strategy to support a healthy body.
Biohacking your metabolism isn’t rocket science, it just takes a little S P E E D.
How about you? What are your favorite takeaways and where do you get your “competitive edge” over your health and fitness endeavors?
Center of Disease Control and Prevention, Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables, November 16, 2017
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