Curious how to improve metabolic health when diet and exercise do not seem to be working?
Optimizing metabolic health is probably the single best thing we can do for our bodies, both today and in the future as we age. And this goes beyond just diet and exercise.
When we think about supporting metabolism, we think eat less and move more. Or even if we know it’s more than that, we still it as “eat these foods and then workout in that specific way.”
The truth is, it’s way more than what you eat or how you move.
Improving metabolic health is essential for overall well-being, supports healthy aging, benefits hormone health, and can help prevent various chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Here are 6 pillars to focus on to help you improve your metabolic health:
Improve Metabolic Health by Managing Blood Sugar
Your blood sugar directly impacts your metabolic health, keeps you satisfied, and gives you the energy you need for the day. You need to know how to balance it for optimal health. Blood sugar regulation is necessary for thyroid and adrenal function, gut health, liver function, hormone balance, PMS, PCOS, and more.
Improve Metabolic Health by Building Muscle
Yup, eating and movement are pieces in the puzzle. They’re just not the WHOLE puzzle. We need to workout smarter, not harder. If you’re killing yourself at the gym and don’t know why, it’s time for a new plan. In order to support your metabolism, the more muscle the better. This means prioritizing progressive overload strength training. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy.
Improve Metabolic Health by Moving Daily
Daily movement is important for getting glucose into cells to be used for energy. It is important for lymphatic flow to remove toxins and keep our immune system functioning. It is important for sleep, stress, and mental health. Move wherever you can during the day. EVEN IF YOU ALREADY WORKED OUT. Walk. Play. Get outside. Do chores. Take the stairs. If you work a sedentary job, set an alarm to get up and walk around the office for 5 min every hour. If you’re home with kids, get them involved, make movement into a game. If you work a job where you are on your feet all day, congratulations! You’re habit stacking! When you get home, rest.
Improve Metabolic Health by Prioritizing Sleep
I know you know that sleep is important, but it’s time to actually start prioritizing it to reach your goals. Not getting enough sleep increases your hunger hormones, cortisol levels, and hinders your overall energy. It’s time to start putting the screens away an hour before bed (yes a full hour), and pick up that book you’ve been wanting to finish (or do some journaling or meditation or breathwork exercises). It will help you wind down and get to sleep faster.
Also, consider the time you go to bed and try to set a consistent bedtime that is 8 hours before you need to be up for the day. If you can only do ONE thing, let it be this.
Improve Metabolic Health by Building Stress Resiliency
If you think you aren’t stressed, consider this: Stress can come in a variety of forms: metabolic stress from nutrient deficiencies or not eating enough, psychologic stress from work, friends, family, and our own expectations on ourselves, environmental stress from pollutants in the air, water, our beauty, skincare, and cleaning products, and from trauma. Past traumas, whether big or small, get stored in the body when they are not fully dealt with and resolved. That trauma leads to physical inflammation and stress on the body. Do not ignore this!
While we cannot eliminate all stress from our lives, we can work to build stress resiliency so that our body does not have as high of a stress reaction to a stressor or trigger. We do this by supporting our nervous system and improving nervous system regulation. There is no quick fix or supplement to resolve this. It takes WORK.
Even if it’s only 30 minutes a day, prioritize having some time for yourself. Practice some deep breathing, journal your thoughts, or go for a walk. Set boundaries with your screen time, your relationships, and yourself. Say no more often. Find something you enjoy that is related to art, music, or nature, and cultivate a new habit or hobby. This is super individualized, but do what you know helps you avoid overwhelm.
Improve Metabolic Health By Supporting Gut & Digestive Function.
Gut health might seem a little unrelated to metabolism, but it’s actually super important. Our microbiome is connected to our metabolism in so many ways. Our gut is directly connected to our brain via the vagus nerve. What we think and believe affects our gut, and what we eat and how well we treat our gut directly impacts how we think and feel. The majority of our immune system also lives in our gut, as does the mechanisms for processing hormones. Thyroid hormone, cortisol, insulin, glucagon, estrogen, and more have a direct relationship to the gut.
Show your gut some love by increasing fiber intake, choosing probiotic foods, getting enough sleep, and managing your stress (funny how everything is kind of related, right?)
Gut health is more than just taking a probiotic supplement, and sometimes too much fiber can wreck more havoc on an unbalanced gut system. So if adding fiber to meals and eating a variety of colors and foods is leading to more problems, it’s time for professional help and testing to find out what is going on. Food sensitivities, bloating, and other GI issues are a sign that something else is at play, and there ARE things you can do besides just eliminating foods or having anxiety at meals for the rest of your life. (If this is you, hit reply, I’d love to chat with you!)
Know that you cannot “balance” your hormones or stop getting sick all the time or have more energy without taking care of your gut.
Remember that improving metabolic health is a gradual process, and it’s essential to make sustainable lifestyle changes. Consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian for personalized guidance based on your individual needs and goals.
Further Resources for Improving Metabolic Health
- 5 Healthy Habits to Break
- 8 Smart Habits to Boost Your Metabolism
- How to Become a Breakfast Person
- 5 Ways to Tell If You Need to Improve Your Metabolism
Want help working on each of the pillars so you can get closer to reaching your health and fitness goals? These are the things we teach in detail inside Metabolism Makeover. The last round of 2023 starts October 2nd, and I’ll coach you through each pillar, offering personalized support along the way.