Metabolism Hacks For Finally Finding Your Happy Weight
Shedding excess weight is a common health goal that many of my patients report to me in my practice of functional medicine. Examine our culture, and it will not take long to see a pattern of excessive focus on diet and working out. Of course we all want to feel and look our best, and maintaining a healthy body weight is a component in a healthy lifestyle. But for many, achieving or maintaining our happy (healthy) weight is just plain hard.
Your body’s metabolism is not static, and it can be affected in ways that make it more efficient at taking the food we eat and burning it for energy. In order to lose weight, we need our metabolism to be working at top speed. Instead of reducing calories to maintain or lose weight, we can turn our attention to speeding up the fat-burning process. This route leaves less room for being tired and hangry. Thankfully there are simple fat burning hacks that are easy to add to your life. What? No crazy diet, weight loss pills, nonstop workouts, or overly restrictive eating? Read on.
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FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE CONSULTATIONS FOR PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD
1. Eat more healthy fats
Healthy fats are the building blocks for more even blood sugar, and steadier blood sugar often leads to easier weight loss. Your body uses glucose from sugar and carbs for energy, but once those easy-access stores are depleted, your body will start burning fat. Fat burning takes more energy than sugar-burning, and tends to preserve more muscle, so encourage that process by bringing in more fat to burn. The best ones are medium-chain triglycerides like the ones found in coconut oil because these are the most readily available for your body to use as energy.
2. Fast intermittently
By periodically limiting your food intake for certain stretches of time, intermittent fasting has been demonstrated to reduce inflammation and decrease insulin resistance; which can help fight off diabetes and encourage fat burning and weight loss.
3. Eat more spicy foods
4. Drink that H20
Your body is more than half (3) water, and every single one of your cells needs water to regulate temperature and function correctly and efficiently. You lose water through sweating, digesting food, and even just breathing, so you need to keep the wet stuff coming in. Drinking eight cups of water per day could increase your metabolism enough to burn almost 20,000 extra calories (4) per year.
5. Sweat it out
Infrared saunas are able to penetrate your skin barrier and therefore increase your core body temperature directly. Regular saunas must heat the air inside them before that heated air can warm you. Research conducted by one of the leading infrared sauna companies showed that consistent use over a three month period contributed to (5) significant weight loss. Since you will be sweating you will be releasing toxins and lowering inflammation that may contribute to many health issues at the same time. Treat yourself!
6. Balance your hormones
Leptin is a hormone produced in your fat cells, and leptin’s job is to tell your brain to burn fat for energy. Leptin resistance occurs when your body stops recognizing this hormone and tricks your metabolism into thinking it’s starving – causing it to continually store fat instead of burning it off. A blood test can easily check your leptin levels. Your ideas range should be between 4 and 6 ng/dL.
7. Add in a probiotic
The gut dictates so many aspects of health, including your weight. In fact, research has linked (6) lower microbiome diversity to being overweight. Those who face weight loss resistance commonly are shown to have increased amounts of the bad bacteria Actinobacteria and Firmicutes and fewer beneficial bacteria such as Bacteroides, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, and Verrucomicrobia. Fortunately, adding lots of fermented foods and a probiotic with bifidobaceria, enterococcus, and lactobacillus has been shown to positively impact the microbiome and aids in recolonizing the gut with good bacteria.
8. Get ripped
Muscle uses more energy than fat, so the more muscles you have, the more calories you will burn just sitting around doing nothing. In other words, incorporate strength training into your workout. Studies have shown (7) that building muscle improves resting metabolic rate, which can help you burn more calories overall and improve whole-body metabolism.
9. Sip tea
Thermogenesis is the process by which your body produces heat, which can increase the number of calories you burn. Certain foods contain naturally occurring thermogenic nutrients such as catechin-containing green tea. Drink a few cups of green tea every day and you could increase your metabolism by 4 to 5 percent and increase fat burning by 10 to 16 percent.
10. Cut back on alcohol
When you drink alcohol, your body has to stop what it is doing and metabolize that alcohol, filtering it through your liver. That means you won’t be metabolizing fats and sugars as quickly, and your metabolism will slow down. Studies have shown (8) that your body’s fat burning actually decreases by 73 percent after indulging in just one alcoholic beverage.
11. Check your thyroid function
Your thyroid is the master of your metabolism, producing T4 and T3 hormones to increase cellular activity and metabolism. When your thyroid underperforms, you won’t get as many of those valuable hormones in your system, and that can slow your metabolism. Getting a full thyroid panel done can give a good overall picture of your total thyroid health. The labs I like to run to help pinpoint thyroid issues are thyroid peroxidase antibodies, thyroglobulin antibodies, TSH, free T4, free T3, and reverse T3.
12. Chill out
When it’s cold, you shiver, which is your body’s way of raising your internal temperature. But even when you are not actively shivering, your body is still working to keep warm. Your body has multiple types of fat – white fat, which accumulates mostly in response to storing excess energy, and brown fat, which actually burns more energy and speeds up your metabolism. Studies have shown (9) that being regularly exposed to colder temperatures can increase your brown fat percentage and actually speed up your metabolism. So next time you want to rush inside to escape the cold, stay out a little longer!
13. Heal your gut
Science is finally starting to recognize the importance of your gut microbiome and the role it plays in your overall health, including your metabolic rate. An unfavorable balance of gut bacteria can lead to a slowed metabolism and increased weight. In one study, (10) researchers took microbiome samples from both lean and obese mice and placed them in the gut of neutral mice. The mice with the obese microbiome sample actually extracted more calories from the same portion of food and gained more weight, even though they weren’t eating any more than the mice with the lean microbiomes. These mice also developed insulin resistance. To make sure you have enough good bacteria in your gut, eat more probiotic-rich foods like kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. You could also try probiotic supplements.
If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer webcam as well as in-person consultations for people across the country and around the world.
- Yu Q, Wang Y, Yu Y, et al. Expression of TRPV1 in rabbits and consuming hot pepper affects its body weight. Mol Biol Rep. 2012;39(7):7583‐7589. doi:10.1007/s11033-012-1592-1
- Ludy MJ, Mattes RD. The effects of hedonically acceptable red pepper doses on thermogenesis and appetite. Physiol Behav. 2011;102(3-4):251‐258. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.11.018
- The Water in You: Water and the Human Body USGS https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
- Michael Boschmann, Jochen Steiniger, Uta Hille, Jens Tank, Frauke Adams, Arya M. Sharma, Susanne Klaus, Friedrich C. Luft, Jens Jordan, Water-Induced Thermogenesis, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 88, Issue 12, 1 December 2003, Pages 6015–6019, https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2003-030780
- Dr. Richard Beever BSc, MD, CCFP, Do “Far-Infrared” Saunas Have Cardiovascular Benefits In People With Type II Diabetes Mellitis? A Sequential Longitudinal Interrupted Time Series Design Study https://www.sunlighten.com/pdfs/Dr-Beever-Weight-Loss-Research.pdf
- Kallus SJ, Brandt LJ. The intestinal microbiota and obesity. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2012;46(1):16‐24. doi:10.1097/MCG.0b013e31823711fd
- Lemmer JT, Ivey FM, Ryan AS, et al. Effect of strength training on resting metabolic rate and physical activity: age and gender comparisons. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001;33(4):532‐541. doi:10.1097/00005768-200104000-00005
- Scott Q Siler, Richard A Neese, Marc K Hellerstein, De novo lipogenesis, lipid kinetics, and whole-body lipid balances in humans after acute alcohol consumption, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 70, Issue 5, November 1999, Pages 928–936, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/70.5.928
- Carol Torgan, Ph.D., Cool Temperature Alters Human Fat and Metabolism NIH July 28, 2014 https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/cool-temperature-alters-human-fat-metabolism
- Devaraj S, Hemarajata P, Versalovic J. The human gut microbiome and body metabolism: implications for obesity and diabetes. Clin Chem. 2013;59(4):617‐628. doi:10.1373/clinchem.2012.187617
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BY DR. WILL COLE
Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC, leading functional medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He received his doctorate from Southern California University of Health Sciences and post doctorate education and training in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. He specializes in clinically researching underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the best selling author of Ketotarian and The Inflammation Spectrum.
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