5 Min Read
How to Improve Your Health by Supercharging Your Metabolism
Remember the days when your trainer or ripped buddy at the gym told you to keep eating to maintain your metabolism constantly? There you were, eating every couple of hours; eggs for breakfast, a handful of nuts as a snack, grilled chicken for lunch, an energy bar mid-afternoon, then a pre-workout smoothie, topped off with fish or a steak for dinner, and another snack before bed.
All that eating is exhausting and not only to your jaw muscles. The constant processing of nutrients never allows your cells to rest and repair. You let your muscles recover but kept the cellular engine burning 24/7.
A 2019 publication reported that only 12% of Americans were metabolically healthy — defined as having no metabolic syndrome criteria free of medications. Poor metabolic health, also called metabolic dysfunction, can increase the risk of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and even Covid-19 complications.
As Americans, we seem to stuff our faces constantly with every sort of processed junk disguised as health food. What do you mean? The container on my berry-flavored yogurt topped with granola and chocolate chips says it's healthy! It contains protein and whole grains. Who cares that it has 42 grams of sugar. It has calcium!
What is metabolic health?
Traditionally, doctors considered a person metabolically healthy as long as they didn't suffer from metabolic syndrome. Having metabolic syndrome means having two or more of the following:
- Waist greater than or equal to 40 inches (men)
- Fasting glucose above 100 mg/dL or A1c above 5.6%
- Blood pressure above 120/80 mmHg
- Triglycerides above 150 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol below 40mg/dL (men)
The problem with this definition is that being healthy is not simply the absence of disease. Not having metabolic syndrome should be the minimum requirement of good health instead of the standard.
A better metabolic standard should include all of the following healthy levels achieved without medication;
- body fat (minimal abdominal or visceral fat)
- blood pressure
- blood lipids, including HDL and triglycerides
- blood sugar, without signs of insulin resistance
- muscle mass and body composition
- resting metabolic rate
Notice that we say maintaining every factor at a healthy level, or you should not consider yourself metabolically fit.
Achieving metabolic fitness
Contrary to what the yoked guys in the gym believe, being metabolically healthy doesn't have anything to do with a fast or continuously operating metabolism. Looking at the list above may seem a bit daunting if you lack in multiple areas, but it's possible to improve the various measures simultaneously.
Also, regardless of the GNC guy's claims, the solution doesn't come in a powder or a pill. How you eat, exercise, sleep, and manage stress are the ingredients to a supercharged metabolism.
You probably think that we're about to espouse the benefits of a keto, paleo, or possibly a vegetarian diet. Well, we don't endorse any particular diet, but we know that the best diets all share common principles.
- Little, if any, processed foods
- Low glycemic index foods
- Allow for calorie reduction without counting them
- Satisfy hunger and reduce cravings
- Nutritionally balanced
Find a diet that meets the above criteria. It should be one that you enjoy and can maintain. What you call it doesn't matter. We should also point out that nowhere have we mentioned losing weight. Weight loss is not the be-all and end-all that diet proselytizers claim it to be.
What's the best exercise for metabolic health? Whether lifting weights, doing cardio, or cross-training with HIIT (High-intensity interval training), you receive the benefits of better blood pressure, greater insulin sensitivity, and improved glucose utilization.
You don't need to be Schwarzenegger to understand that resistance training is the best muscle-building exercise. We know that all you bodybuilders hate to hear this, but muscle mass isn't necessary for metabolic health. Quite simply, large men do not live long lives.
Combining the three disciplines is the ideal strategy for maintaining a lean, fit, and metabolically healthy body.
Pulling an all-nighter or going to a rave is terrible for your metabolism. We hope that you were already aware of that insight. The reason for this metabolic death march is that even short-term sleep deprivation causes high blood pressure, a spike in glucose levels, and insulin resistance. That's the triple threat of metabolic syndrome.
What you may not realize is that late-night partying or working the graveyard shift aren't the only culprits in sleep deprivation. A growing number of men suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, and the results are the same.
If you snore, wake up tired, get morning headaches, drool on your pillow, or have to pee multiple times per night, talk to your doctor and schedule a sleep study. Your cellular health depends on rest to function properly.
Chronic stress that activates your fight or flight response leads to insulin resistance the same way a lack of sleep does. Since chronic stress is a long-term disorder, it can have devastating effects on your metabolic health.
Short-term physiological and psychological stress, such as a sudden illness or sudden threat, may also induce temporary insulin resistance but has a lesser effect on metabolism due to its shorter nature.
Move to the woods or a monastery, renounce all your worldly possessions, and live a life of celibacy for optimal metabolic health. Just kidding. Stress is unavoidable, and anyone who says they live a life free from stress is a liar.
Learn to manage stress by practicing yoga, mindfulness training, or meditation. If that's not your cup of tea, go for a walk or take a few deep breaths. Did you know that widening your gaze helps you relax? When we get tense, our focus narrows. That's why humans love a panoramic view of the mountains or the ocean. It's relaxing.
Ready, set, supercharge!
Before reading this article, many of you probably thought that a supercharged metabolism is one that constantly goes full speed. A truly supercharged metabolism works efficiently for a long time.
You may want your cells to work like the Energizer bunny, but even he runs out of juice quickly when pushed too hard. What you need are the lifetime guarantee rechargeable batteries that burn energy evenly and need plugged in regularly.
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Build your body and system accordingly.
The above information is not medical advice. Do not discontinue any medications or change your diet without consulting a licensed medical practitioner.