Health has always been a primary focus of mine. It is one of the few subjects which encompasses so much that it never gets boring. I wanted to give a simple yet hopefully illuminating explanation on what the metabolism actually is and how it is described in such idiotic ways by most people and industries.
For any looking for a super scientific explanation, this is not what I am trying to show, but a simplistic model for those who do not properly understand it in the hopes that I can stop people from getting robbed of their money by supplement companies and other people saying that they will “speed up metabolism” or some bullshit.
Now, for all intents and purposes, the metabolism is a single word used to describe hundreds of processes happening within the body at all times, hence why when anyone says they have something that will speed it up or that something you are doing will slow it down, they are usually fucking with you, except in certain cases.
Let’s get something straight; most of the time the only reason a metabolism will slow down in someone is because they are under-eating, lacking sleep or just massively stressed. Sadly those three are usually done simultaneously in conjunction with way too much training (usually cardio. Urgh).
And there is NOTHING that SPEEDS up metabolism. The only thing you can do is make your metabolism more efficient.
Metabolism is the conglomeration of digestive processes (stomach acid release, enzyme release and food breakdown, bacteria interacting with your food, carb/fat storage and release, etc..), hormone release and use and signalling from the brain, which is done through neurotransmitters and hormones.
That isn’t even all of it. I am just trying to give a basic picture so that you understand how foolish it is when people walk into a tea store and ask for a tea that speeds up their metabolism and makes them lose only fat…
The human body is a complex organism. Genetic and epigenetic (environmental) factors are constantly involved in shifting how your body reacts to food and other things. Thinking that you can take one thing and actually make a healthy change in your body is foolish and immature. It is time for people to grow up.
Now this is not to say that there are not some supplements or teas that may have a very positive benefit to YOUR body (Note the capitalization. Everyone is different and so something that works for you may not work for others). But we need to understand that metabolism is a constantly shifting monster of a thing, and even though I am simplifying things in this post, it is so not simple inside of you.
What I have concluded after many many years of study is a few things.
The first and most important thing is that we need to eat, and we need to eat a lot more than most people do. I often hear people spouting nonsense about how they eat SO MUCH FOOD. But when you look at their days they barely eat anything, drink tons of coffee and teas and snack on crap, and every once in a while, they binge on food and somehow this translates into them thinking they are taking in enough calories just to keep the body functioning at its base rate.
Many people who gain weight think it is through too many calories, but in my experience it is a combination of things; yo-yo eating, not eating enough food followed by large amounts of junk food, no consistency, not enough sleep leading to hormonal dysregulation, not enough relaxation, movement or time in nature.
You must understand; for most adults a minimum of 2500 calories a day should be standard, and most people, especially when being moderately physically active, should push for far more. Most of the food should be unprocessed, good quality local food and, if appetite is too low, add in some high calorie junkier foods because at the end of the day you do not want your body to be shutting down things like your libido because you have decided that you need to be 85 pounds and capable of fitting in a sock.
This obsession people have with being skinny is getting to be scary. I believe it is healthier to not carry large amounts of extra fat, for sure, but that does NOT translate to being skin and bones. Now, if you are naturally a thin person, you may think you are just meant to be that way, however, most of us need a bit of extra fat on us for health.You may have just gotten the short end of the stick from your parents, causing you to really need to up your calories even more. Not to get obese, obviously, but to just put a bit of safety fat on your body for those times of stress when the system needs it for healthy hormone production.
In no time in history was it logical to have a six pack. Being that thin does not lend well to survival in the wilds. Now, luckily, we are not living in caves anymore, but it does mean that if you desire a 6 pack, you can go one of two ways. The idiotic way of constantly starving yourself, needing to restrict food and slowly breaking your metabolism to the point that, by the time you’re in your 30’s or 40’s, you are weak, tired and missing a thyroid gland. Or figuring out what your true calorie needs are, eating a bit more than that, staying CONSISTENT as much as possible with those calorie needs, sleeping well and moving and taking care of stress, and your body will naturally find its own weight set point.
Now, this needs to be said, if you follow the 2nd point, you MAY get to a point where your body feels it does not need to keep so much fat on it because of a calorie surplus in the environment, and with proper training you will get nicely lean and have your 6 pack. HOWEVER, it is possible your body does NOT want you to go down to that level of leanness, and if you force it you will face repercussions down the line unless you have a level of dedication to eating and training that will make you hate life.
Most studies show that the majority of people regain most of their weight from dieting and training within a few years and add more weight on top of it, repeatedly damaging their metabolism and making it more difficult to lose the weight the second time. Do not fall into this cycle, please.
Eat good quality, local food, eat a lot, 2500+ calories, accept that 6 pack land is not for all of us and not worth dieting for, learn to love your body for what it is; sometimes thin, sometimes curvy, sometimes big-boned. Some people have big breasts, some small, some have big butts and some small. And that includes men also :D.
If you stress and strain your body by constantly dieting and restricting, you will mess up your metabolism to the point where you might spend years attempting to fix the damage you have done, and it will not be pleasant.
Some of the easiest ways to judge if you’re going in the right direction is weight stabilization, even at high calorie amounts, hot body temperatures at all times, high libido, good hair and nail regrowth, etc. For more info check out Matt Stone at http://180degreehealth.com/ or http://www.youreatopia.com/blog for the more psychological aspects of energy restriction issues.
EAT THE FOOD AND THRIVE!