Estimated reading time: 49 minute(s)
Learn About What Is Metabolic Health?
Uncover the CLUES to WHY you can’t lose weight.
Why is focusing on your metabolic health more important than counting calories when wanting to lose weight?
Because when you improve the function of your metabolic processes your body will understand how to deliver the energy you consume into your cells rather than storing them as fat.
Making losing weight easier, long-lasting and from the areas, you want to lose it from – rather than just your face!
If you are over 40 years old and want to lose weight then sorry to be the person to break this to you – but the days of calories in and calories out to lose weight have long gone!
What is metabolic health has become a common question with a number of companies such as Nutrisense, Veri and Levels starting to discuss the benefits of blood sugar control and measuring the blood sugar spikes with a continuous glucose monitor.
These companies want to help people understand the impact of impaired glucose tolerance effects on overall health and find ways to avoid blood sugar spikes and the significantly increased risk of excess fat and the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and heart attack.
In this article, I want to share the essential three metabolic pathways you should focus on if you want to lose weight and keep it off long-term to improve your metabolic health.
You’ll understand how the three main metabolic pathways can enhance your future metabolic health and help you lose weight easier and keep it off long term.
As a functional nutritionist, I have a wealth of knowledge and expertise that I want to share with you about your metabolic health.
Is it time you lost some weight? Have you tried to cut some calories, and exercise more but seem to be struggling to really lose some weight?
This is because your metabolic pathways are likely struggling to metabolise the food you eat, and you are at risk of being pre-diabetic or more commonly known as insulin resistant.
Understanding Metabolic Health
In order to understand metabolic health and how it affects your ability to lose weight, we must look at the three primary biochemical pathways: gluconeogenesis, glycolysis and lipolysis.
The first pathway is gluconeogenesis (GNG). This process takes place in your liver and produces glucose from non-carbohydrate sources. It is important for maintaining your blood sugar levels and also helps to provide energy when carbohydrate stores are low, as after a long period of exercise.
The second pathway is glycolysis. This process takes place in all cells, including muscle cells, fat cells and liver cells. It breaks down glucose molecules into smaller molecules and then releases energy.
Finally, we have lipolysis. Lipolysis is the breakdown of triglycerides (fats) in our fat cells and is an important process for mobilising body fat during fasting or exercise.
These three metabolic pathways are essential for metabolism and play a key role in regulating your overall energy levels, mood, sleep and fat loss.
What Is Your Metabolic Health?
Metabolic health is a relatively new medical phrase that refers to the body’s ability to convert calories from food to energy to create mitochondria.
As we get older, our metabolism naturally slows down and becomes sluggish.
The main contributors are the amounts of sugar, carbohydrates, and saturated fats consumed over the years. This impacts our liver’s ability to be effective at eliminating toxins from the food we consume.
In turn, this affects the homeostasis of our hormones that control our blood sugars and how we use and burn the energy that we consume.
Good metabolic health is more than fewer calories to achieve weight loss success; it’s about what impact your food and lifestyle choices are having on metabolic pathways.
This quality of energy and your body’s ability to metabolize it reflects your energy levels, mental health, ageing skin, and losing weight and maintaining weight.
Understanding the clues to why you cant lose weight?
Our metabolism is a series of biochemical processes that occur in every cell. It drives the delivery of energy into your cells, tissues, and organs to function.
Various factors determine your metabolic pathways’ ability to process energy, such as age, gender, body composition, activity level, and genetics.
The problems arise when the activity of your metabolic pathways are influenced by poor blood sugar management, sluggish liver clearance and disruption in your gut microbiome.
When they are not working as efficiently as they should be due to poor nutrition and lifestyle choices, this can lead to many health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, autoimmune diseases, inflammation and cardiovascular disease.
Hence, your metabolic health is not just about how many calories you consume.
To be metabolically healthy and lose weight you need to understand how your nutrition and lifestyle choices are influencing your metabolic pathways.
What impacts your metabolic health?
It is essential to understand how the quality of your food, the air you breathe, the products you put on your skin, and the supplements you take affect your metabolic pathways’ performance.
For example, it can make our sleep patterns irregular, bring on cravings for certain foods, affect our energy levels, impact the quality of the skin and make our bodies store fat, even from a healthy diet, rather than consume it for energy.
This is why yo-yo dieting and quick fixes will not work; your body is far more complex than that. By only reducing your calorie content you are creating a downward spiral and reducing your metabolic rate, which makes it harder to lose weight and maintain it in the long term.
With strict calorie counting and denying ourselves what we want to eat, our metabolic health will decline and work against us rather than improve.
Our blood sugars and the hormones that influence how much energy we burn and where weight is stored will affect how we lose weight.
Improving metabolic health is not about counting calories, points or sins and calculating success based on the bathroom scales’ number. – it’s about focusing on the delivery of energy to improve the function of your metabolic pathways.
Metabolic Health Risk Factors
Our Metabolic health is commonly associated with metabolic syndrome as we get older, which is related to being overweight and abdominal obesity.
When you carry extra body fat, you are at an increased risk of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, high fasting blood sugar, sluggish liver function and gut dysbiosis.
As well as your body weight, there are five more ways to measure the symptoms of your metabolic health risk.
- High blood pressure (greater than 130/85 mmHg)
- High blood sugar (fasting blood glucose over 100mg/dl)
- Waist-to-hip ratio (over 0.85 in women, 1.0+ for men)
- High triglyceride levels (above 2.3mmol/L)
- Low levels of good cholesterol, or HDL (below 1mmol/L)
These are risk factors that are the consequences of not addressing the root cause of your everyday symptoms and will lead to metabolic syndrome and or metabolic disease, autoimmune, inflammatory and heart disease.
Underlying poor metabolic health?
The most effective approach is to target the underlying causes of poor metabolic health when you want to lose weight.
Understanding the core reasons behind your everyday symptoms will lead to weight loss success.
As most of them come from the dysfunction of three main metabolic pathways.
- Delivery of energy into your cells
- Clearance of waste and toxins
- Absorption of nutrients from the food you eat
The symptoms such as high blood sugar levels, sluggish liver function and gut dysbiosis are responsible for the energy production in every cell in your body, the clearance of waste and toxins and the absorption of nutrients from the food you eat.
1. Delivery of energy into your cells
The state of your blood sugar levels is the root cause of most typical symptoms that leads to metabolic dysfunction and other metabolic diseases.
Each blood sugar molecule delivers energy to all the various cells in your body individually, and they have different roles in your body. Still, they all need to create mitochondria, the energy centre, and every cell’s life cycle in your body.
Any imbalance of blood sugars creates a reduction in sensitivity to insulin.
This impacts the energy production in the cell to create the mitochondria, which leads to insulin resistance, pre-diabetes which leads to diabetes mellitus or type 2 diabetes.
Therefore, the quality of the energy you consume is essential as this influences your sensitivity to insulin based on the sweetness of the food, not the calorie content.
Every time you eat or drink anything, a network of hormones triggers a message to your pancreas to release the insulin hormone. The more refined the carbohydrate or the sweeter the food, the more insulin you will need to deliver the energy into the cell.
Like drinking alcohol or caffeine, the more you consume, the more you need to get satisfaction.
Therefore, it’s essential to understand that insulin is released every time you drink coffee, diet soda, or eat carbohydrates, protein or fats. The amount of insulin will vary depending on the type of energy consumed.
Remember, regardless of whether it’s a blueberry muffin, an apple or a can of Diet Coke, the amount of insulin released is due to the sweetness you can taste.
Your blood can only hold a small amount of sugar for instant energy, so insulin levels will rise to remove the excess sugar from your blood and drop your blood sugar levels as quickly as possible.
This constant high and low creates low energy, fatigue, low mood, brain fog, and lack of concentration, as the glucose is not being delivered to your brain.
The reality is that you have more than enough energy stored in your liver and muscle to survive for three days and sufficient energy stored in your fat cells to walk around the British Isles. The problem is that your body has switched off the metabolic pathways to access it.
After many years of insulin sensitivity, your fasting blood sugar levels will become higher, and the higher your glucose levels, the more energy you need to function. This is when the health symptoms begin to influence your metabolic health, as only so much energy can be delivered into the cells; the rest is sent to the liver and stored for later.
Without the energy in your cells, your brain will panic. It needs constant high energy levels, so it triggers a stress hormone to tell your gut that it needs food now.
In response, another hormone called leptin triggers a hunger pang and sends you off to hunt for quick, accessible food.
Once this happens, you won’t choose a chicken salad as your brain wants instant energy. All that chopping, chewing and digesting will take too much effort and take far too long.
This is the root cause of your cravings, mood swings, and anxiety, leading to high fasting glucose levels.
It is essential to break this cycle and stop craving the carbs, as this is how you gain weight around the middle, and such poor metabolic health begins.
A great way to help break this cycle is to remember that the more you have to chew a carbohydrate, the less insulin you’ll need. It takes more effort, for example, to chew celery or kale than it does a doughnut.
The best way to measure your insulin sensitivity is to use a continuous glucose monitor.
2. Clearance of waste and toxins
The primary focus of insulin is to pick up the glucose from the blood and place it into cells for energy, but if they are full or resistant to the insulin, the excess glucose is taken to the liver for storage.
Your liver has a central role in the systemic regulation of your blood sugars and clearing out toxins from your food.
When you choose any processed foods, such as Diet Coke, low-fat meal replacements or a snack bar, you tell yourself it’s OK, “it’s healthy”. But most manufactured and processed foods contain fructose corn syrup or a sweetener called aspartame, which is 1.5 times sweeter than regular table sugar.
Fructose corn syrup and aspartame will trigger more insulin than regular sugar, but the risk factor is that the liver will not recognize these ingredients as nutrients when it comes to your liver function.
They are not recognized by the liver and immune system as essential nutrients. Therefore, the gut and liver struggle to metabolize the food as energy or detoxified out of your body, as they are not recognised so will be stored in your fat cells.
Taking these two facts into account, too much insulin and too many toxic substances in foods are why you will struggle with mental health such as low mood, anxiety, oily skin, and find it hard to lose weight when consuming low-fat, low-sugar, processed or manufactured foods.
It’s fake food that creates cravings
If you need to read the label to find out what is in your food rather than just looking at it, it’s potentially not healthy.
Learning more about what is in your food will help you understand that your food choices influence your ability to improve your metabolic health and address the root causes of your symptoms and reduce the risk of metabolic diseases.
Suppose you struggle with fatigue, anxiety, cravings, aches and pains, quality of sleep, skin issues, and gut problems such as bloating or constipation. In that case, you should look at the quantity and the quality of your food choices, rather than worrying too much about the number of calories you are consuming.
3. Absorption of nutrients from the food you eat
The absorption of the nutrients from the food you consume is also necessary for energy delivery, and your gut microbiome influences this.
The function of your gut microbiome depends on your stomach acid’s pH balance. Any imbalance created by food and medications, such as processed foods, antacids, painkillers or NSAIDs will impact the absorption of the raw ingredients you consume.
If you have dry skin, asthma, bloating, and flatulence after a meal, you likely have dysbiosis in your gut.
You can still have dysbiosis, even when enjoying a healthy diet and only eating organic, home-cooked food because the gut microbiome is the most complex system in the body.
It generates energy from bacteria, supports the liver function in detoxification and provides the first line of defence in immunity.
When there is dysbiosis, there is inflammation; The integrity of your gut lining will be compromised and metabolically unhealthy.
Allowing endotoxins created by the gut microbiome to pass directly into your blood and attach to the cell receptors disrupts your hormones.
The higher the endotoxin level, the higher the insulin resistance and the LDL cholesterol required to detoxify them from the liver.
Once the gut lining is compromised, known as leaky gut, the immune system is on high alert to attack anything that looks familiar.
The problem is that an autoimmune response will affect the absorption of the raw ingredients essential to creating digestive enzymes, metabolising the food and delivering the energy to protect the gut lining – it’s a vicious cycle!
Every chronic metabolic disease begins with a leaky gut.
Remember, nutrition is science, not maths.
In summary, If you want to lose weight the most effective way is to stop dieting and improve your metabolic health.
This will increase energy levels, mental health and improve skin health. To improve your metabolic health you need to focus on the root causes of your typical everyday symptoms rather than just the number on your bathroom scales.
- Enjoying food in its most natural form
- Balancing blood sugars and increasing insulin sensitivity
- Supporting the liver in detoxification
- Balancing the pH levels in your gut microbiome
The “calorie in, calorie out” method is no longer the way to approach weight loss. The quality of your food influences the metabolic pathways to absorb energy and deliver it to the cells.
Too much energy creates an imbalance in blood sugar levels and the release of insulin. With time, our cells become resistant to the charms of insulin, which encourages the storage of energy in our fat cells rather than the production of mitochondria for energy.
Supporting your liver function, and allowing the body to detoxify efficiently, reduces the load on the pancreas and improves insulin sensitivity.
It is essential to focus on the quality of your food choices to lose weight and improve metabolic health.
The best way to do this is to eat whole, unprocessed foods as close to their natural state as possible. This will ensure you are getting the most out of the food you consume and your body will thank you for it!
As maintaining the correct pH levels throughout your gut is essential to reducing the dysbiosis in your gut microbiome and the risk of triggering autoimmune or inflammatory responses in the gut lining.
It’s not about being perfect, it’s about progress.
In conclusion, the ability to have a healthy metabolism, which is required to address the root cause of low energy levels, mental health, ageing skin, weight loss, and weight management, depends on your metabolic health.
Health conditions such as high cholesterol, large waist circumference and lack of physical activity are becoming more common due to the quality of the food consumed and resulting in an imbalance in blood sugars, sluggish liver function and gut dysbiosis rather than just being overweight.
If you want to have good metabolic health, learn what’s going on with your body and achieve a healthy waistline, it’s time to stop counting calories and start improving metabolic health.
Take a look at my FREE Metabolic Health Webinar to learn more – CLICK HERE
What’s next? What is your metabolic health age – use the online Metabolic Age Calculator and answer a few simple health and lifestyle questions. It takes a few minutes, but it could help you change how you manage your energy levels forever.
If your Metabolic Health Age is equivalent to or lower than your actual age, then that is great news! This means your blood sugar levels, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein, (HDL) cholesterol, blood pressure and waist circumference are potentially all within an ideal range.
However if your Metabolic Health Age is more than 10 years of your actual age, and you are struggling with low energy and fatigue you could be prone to some or all of these conditions as these are all markers that directly relate to your risk of insulin resistance, fatty liver, dysbiosis, high cholesterol and blood pressure.