Restoring Your Metabolism and Reversing Metabolic Damage

Our metabolism is a complex system controlled by multiple factors. When it becomes damaged or dysfunctional, it can be challenging to restore. However, with a strategic approach, we can take steps to “reset” and optimize our metabolic function.

Understanding Basal Metabolic Rate

The basal metabolic rate (BMR) refers to the minimum number of calories your body needs to perform essential functions like breathing, blood circulation, and cell repair. It makes up about 60-75% of your total calorie expenditure.

BMR is influenced by:

  • Body size and composition – More muscle mass increases BMR.
  • Age and sex – BMR slows as we age. Men tend to have faster metabolism.
  • Genetics – Some people inherit a faster/slower metabolism.

To estimate BMR, you can multiply your weight in pounds by 10. For kilos, multiply by 22. However, this is just a very rough estimate that doesn’t account for individual variations.

Actual BMR can fluctuate by up to 50% above or below these predictions. Factors like dieting, aging, hormonal issues, and insulin resistance can slow metabolism over time.

How “Dieting” Can Damage Metabolism

When we restrict calories below our BMR for prolonged periods, the body perceives it as starvation and responds by lowering BMR to conserve energy.

Initially, weight loss occurs. But as BMR drops, weight plateaus or even increases despite reduced calorie intake. This happens as the body tries to return to its comfortable “set point” weight.

With repeated dieting attempts, the set point creeps higher over time. This phenomenon is sometimes called “yo-yo” dieting. Each failed diet makes long-term weight loss harder.

Studies of contestants on The Biggest Loser show how excessive exercise combined with severe calorie restriction can decimate BMR. Their bodies fight starvation by drastically lowering BMR and increasing hunger signals.

Key Factors That Suppress Metabolism

Aging – Some BMR decline is inevitable with age. But unhealthy lifestyle factors often hasten the process.

Insulin Resistance – Chronically high insulin promotes fat storage, prevents fat breakdown, and reduces BMR.

High Cortisol – Chronic stress raises cortisol, which can increase belly fat storage and insulin resistance.

Low Thyroid – The thyroid hormone regulates BMR. Dysfunction lowers BMR.

Gut Dysbiosis – Imbalanced gut microbes impact hormone regulation, inflammation, and BMR.

Fructose/Alcohol – Excess fructose/alcohol overwhelm the liver, increase fat storage, and lower BMR.

Seed Oils – Heavily processed vegetable oils promote inflammation, fat gain, and lower BMR.

Chemical Toxins – Pesticides, BPA, phthalates, etc. disrupt hormonal function and metabolism.

Strategies to Restore Metabolic Health

1. Improve Insulin Sensitivity

  • Reduce sugar, refined carbs, and processed foods
  • Increase healthy fats, fiber, and protein
  • Exercise regularly
  • Address stress, sleep, and other lifestyle factors

2. Support Thyroid Function

  • Reduce inflammation and autoimmune triggers
  • Try supplements like selenium, zinc, magnesium, etc.
  • Test thyroid blood levels and treat accordingly

3. Cultivate a Healthy Gut Microbiome

  • Eat prebiotic and probiotic foods
  • Consider taking a probiotic supplement
  • Avoid unnecessary antibiotics and NSAIDs

4. Manage Stress Levels

  • Practice relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing
  • Get enough sleep and rest
  • Spend time outdoors and in nature
  • Engage in fun hobbies and social activities

5. Follow an Intermittent Fasting Protocol

  • Fast for 16-20 hours per day
  • Eat larger meals during the “feeding window”
  • Helps restore insulin sensitivity

6. Move Your Body Regularly

-Aim for 30-60 minutes per day of activity -Include strength training 2-3x per week -Take regular movement breaks; avoid prolonged sitting

Healing a broken metabolism takes time. Stick with lifestyle changes for at least 3-6 months to allow your body to re-calibrate. Celebrate small victories along the way.

The Bottom Line: lifestyle tweaks

With strategic nutrition, movement, stress relief, and other lifestyle tweaks, you can coax your metabolism back into peak functioning. Support your body’s innate healing abilities by providing it with the inputs and environment it needs to thrive.

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