When I refer to “eating for heat”, I am not talking about the scorching temperatures we are currently experiencing across Sydney, but the inner heat generated by a good, thumping, healthy metabolism.
Did you know that cold hands and feet, a tendency to feel the chill, and red/blotchy skin can be a sign of sluggish metabolism? When many people hear that their metabolism may be slowing down, their first step is often to diet harder, and train harder, which is highly likely to exacerbate the problem.
In order for the mitochondria in our body’s cells (the tiny organelle responsible for energy production) to function optimally, it needs adequate calories and an adequate representation of all three macronutrients in the diet: protein, fat, and the much maligned carbohydrates. A diet or exercise routine that significantly depletes carbohydrates or severely restricts one of these macronutrients can be very metabolically damaging, and lead to the tell-tale signs of metabolic distress mentioned in the beginning of this article.
A sluggish metabolism can also present with weight gain, dull skin and hair, fatigue, mood swings, low libido, poor digestion, and reduced fertility. Without the energy to perform every function optimally, your body will begin to make sacrifices on energy usage, and that is when these symptoms will begin to emerge.
So how can we keep our metabolism healthy? By eating enough, sleeping enough, actively trying to reduce our stress, and training smart. Training smart means exercising regularly, 3-6 times a week, but not to the point of absolute exhaustion or depletion each and every time. Eating enough means giving your body enough calories and enough of each of the macronutrients to perform all of its functions optimally and with ease. Sleeping enough tends to mean between 7 and 9 hours a night occurring between the hours of 9pm and 6am, with women actually needing slightly more sleep each night than men.
Actively reducing stress might mean taking up a meditative practice, seeing friends more, and removing toxic people from your life.
There is also the question of eating RIGHT, which I will have to cover in another article, but remember, a tired and slow metabolism will never be permanently beaten into submission by a heavily restrictive diet and over-training. These moves may lead to short-term success, but inevitably will result in burn-out and a return of the original problems, and then some.
Eliza is a 4th year student of Naturopathy and Nutritional Medicine and currently offers KMDI students free one-hour nutrition consults. These can be arranged for 2pm, Tuesday-Thursday by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org