Have you always believed you have been genetically programmed to have a sluggish metabolism? Are you one of those people who gains weight just by looking at a chocolate cupcake? Or has “age” caused you to put on an extra 15 pounds or more than you weighed in high school? Chances are very slim that you are actually programmed by your genetics to pack on the pounds like a cow at a feedlot. Overweight and obesity wasn’t a problem until less than 100 years ago, so it just doesn’t make any sense to believe your genes have anything to do with the way your metabolism is. I’m including in this post just a short summary of how you can fix your metabolism so that your body burns the fuel you give it, instead of adding it to your waistline and hips.
Secret #1: Avoid Grains.
Humans did not begin eating grains until very recently, so our bodies simply do not recognize them as food. Instead, our bodies perceive them as toxins due to the poisons they contain, including phytates and lectins. Additionally, grains require a humongous load of insulin to be digested. Insulin tells your body to conserve fat and put on weight. This is why individuals with type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune disorder in which the pancreas fails to produce insulin) can become emaciated without treatment. In Chinese Medicine, type 1 diabetes is a form of disease referred to as “wasting and thirsting.” In contrast, individuals who make too much insulin due to eating a high-glycemic diet (high sugar, high carbohydrate), gain weight like crazy — especially in the belly underneath the abdominal muscles (the most dangerous area to put on fat).
Secret #2: Eat More Food.
If you aren’t eating enough food, your body simply goes into “starvation mode,” slowing down your metabolism to conserve energy in case of famine. Notice I did not say “eat every 2 hours” or “polish off an entire cake in one sitting.” I said “eat more FOOD.” Low-fat waffles, Tropicana orange juice, whole-grain bread, Gatorade, canola oil, and candy corns are caloric substances, but they are not foods. A food is something that came from the Earth, land, or sea — not a box. When you eat actual foods, your body’s hunger and satiety signals work very well to tell you when you’ve eaten enough. When you eat processed caloric substances, your body gets confused and sends distorted signals about whether you are hungry or full.
Secret #3: Avoid Chronic Cardio.
Despite what you’ve always been told, doing cardio exercise will not cause you to lose weight. Instead, it may hinder your weight loss efforts and cause you to gain even more weight. Constant cardio workouts cause your body to secrete cortisol, which is a cortiocosteroid hormone released by your adrenal glands that tells your body to conserve fat stores. It’s the “fight or flight” hormone that tells your body to act fast in emergency situations, but if your body is constantly pumping out cortisol for an extended period of time (due to perceived or real stressors on the body), this screws up your metabolism. This is why corticosteroid injections (or pills and inhalers for asthma) can cause a surge in energy (and insomnia) for a short amount of time, but over an extended period of time they begin to make a person feel tired and gain lots of weight really fast. Chronic high cortisol levels, either from chronic cardio exercise or from corticosteroid medications, actually causes an illness referred to as Cushing’s Disease or Cushing’s Symdrome in which a lot of fat accumulates on the back of the neck and abdomen. See the picture below.
Secret #4: Don’t eat when you’re not hungry.
This sounds simple enough, but it requires listening to your body, which few people know how to do. Just because a food looks good or smells good, does not mean you are hungry. Being tired or upset doesn’t mean you are hungry either. If you aren’t sure what it feels like to be hungry, fast from all food for a couple of days and hunger will surely appear. When you feel this sensation (but probably to a much lesser degree), it means you are hungry. Eat plenty of plants, animals, raw or cultured dairy, and eggs until you are full. Your body may require a lot of fuel or a little — just chew your food thoroughly, stay hydrated, and listen to your body and it will tell you exactly when to stop eating.
Secret #5: Move Intensely.
While it is possible to stay thin and never do any form of physical exercise, your body requires movement for a healthy, toned musculature. You’ll stand taller, feel stronger, and look healthier when you exercise regularly. High intensity interval training, whether in the form of cycling, sprinting, yoga, swimming, or old fashioned calisthenics, gives your body the workout it was designed to do. For thousands of years we had to forage and hunt for food, and this required full-body exercises in which our whole bodies were engaged in intense activity of short bursts of time. Weight lifting (in which only one muscle group is isolated), walking on a treadmill with a magazine, sitting on your lower back hunched over a desk for 8 hours while barely moving, and jogging for extended periods of time are confusing activities to the body that don’t promote optimal metabolism or muscle development.