Let's be honest- we've all been there. "My metabolism is just out of whack. I need to do a quick diet/cleanse to get back on track." Today, we're talking about how harmful that mindset can be.
What is the metabolism?
Your metabolism is the rate at which you break down food. Your metabolism doesn't not take into account your hormone levels, your gut absorption, or your mental capabilities that day.
Things like your skeletal muscle mass, your body fat percentage, your exercise levels, and the amount of calories you consume impact your metabolic rate.
Simply put, metabolism is a number. A measure of how quickly your body can break down what you put in.
Let me ask you a question...
Do you value speed or efficiency more?
My guess is that you'd rather have a job well done than a job done as quickly as possible.
While metabolism is important, it is NOT the only thing affecting your body composition.
Healthy vs. Skinny
Yes, they are most often two entirely different things.
It is not vain or selfish to want to look fit and strong, or feel confident when you look in the mirror.
In fact, if you're a believer, you know that the Bible says it is honorable work to live in a healthy body.
Modeling healthy, strong behaviors for our children allows generations to come the opportunity to achieve their potential.
The problem is that somewhere along the way, the message got lost.
Healthy became synonymous with a size 0 and washboard abs.
It became more important to lose weight than to focus on the ingredients you're putting in your body.
And now we're sicker than ever.
Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune conditions, allergies, skin conditions- they've all been on the rise for the last 2 decades. This is linked in no small part to our dietary and lifestyle choices.
Kids of the 90's grew up watching their parents bounce between meal replacement shakes and bars.
Heck, we were even pitched meal replacement shakes (anyone remember how DELICIOUS carnation breakfast essentials were??? Anyone know what was in there...??)
The danger of these products lies on the back of the package.
They promise a "healthy alternative" to food (which, honestly...does that exist?) so that you can control your calories and shed pounds quickly.
Remember that there is a price to pay for fast results.
A record number of skinny people are developing health conditions, while people in "average" or "plus size" clothing are displaying perfect lab results.
While rapid weight loss is sometimes necessary to prevent a catastrophic health event like heart attack or stroke, it is almost never the right answer to replace real food with packaged powders.
The Price You Pay to Diet
Anti-diet culture has taken the world by storm since the covid-19 pandemic, and for a good reason.
Dieting has been engrained in many of us from an early age. And where has it gotten us?
As previously stated, we are sicker than ever AND have a negative or fear-based relationship with food.
What is meant to nourish us scares us.
It's not supposed to be this way.
There are a few other major costs to dieting that companies who benefit from packaged products won't tell you...
💸 Your metabolism will decline
Calorie restriction works because it creates a surplus in energy- your body is burning more than it's consuming because it's used to getting more fuel.
When you reduce calories, your body slowly starts to adapt to less calories.
So, when you are finished with the diet and return to eating more calories, your body cannot burn them. You gain the weight back. You become frustrated that you backtracked and will likely repeat the cycle.
The more times you hinder your metabolism, the less elastic it becomes. This means that every time you diet, you're more likely to slow your metabolism down for good.
💸 You harm your digestive tract
Your quality of life rises and falls on your digestion. The additives, natural flavors, gums, and dyes can all harm your digestion. You also starve your gut of the fiber it needs to survive when you choose packaged options over real food.
There are 2 types of fiber- soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber is used to bind everything together, while insoluble fiber is used like a broom to sweep out your intestines.
This is the anatomy of a good poop, which is essential to your overall health.
Colon cancer is almost entirely preventable with a healthy diet filled with BOTH types of fiber...so why don't we talk about this more?!
Many "meal replacement" products lack that insoluble fiber, which can lead to stomach cramping, constipation, intestinal blockages, and potential infections.
Is it worth all of that to lose 5 pounds a few weeks earlier?
Next time you reach for a quick packaged option, also grab a fruit or veggie to have with it. Your belly will thank you!
💸 You lose a good deal of nourishment
Meal replacement products are simply incapable of matching up to the nutrient profile found in fresh food products. This conversation pertains to bioactive food compounds.
Bioactive food compounds are specific nutrients the body absorbs from foods that promote health across many areas and systems of the body.
While bioactive compounds can be extracted from their original food, they may not be able to be used by the body in the same way.
The key to bioactive compounds is the fiber they're paired with.
We just talked about how fiber can impact the GI tract, and here's why it matters.
When digestion is not optimized, you cannot absorb nutrients the way you're meant to.
This means that even if your shake packet contains 1000% of your daily dose of vitamin A, your gut may only absorb 3%*. It doesn't matter how good the supplement is if your body can't use it.
Not to mention- those added ingredients to make it shelf stable don't provide nourishment, and may even be ingredients that could harm your body in the long run.
*These numbers are not accurate reflections of any one supplement product on the market. They are simply used as an example to demonstrate the difference in dosage vs. absorption in this situation.
What Does All of This Mean?
It means that you CAN heal your metabolism, but there may be some other factors at play as well. AKA- focus on a well rounded healthy body, not just one measurement.
In order to feel your best, you MUST focus on the whole picture of you. How are your hormones? What's your stress like right now? Is your past full of diet culture and "bouncing" between solutions?
When you work from the full picture, you'll build a strong foundation that allows you to heal your metabolism and finally see the results you've been working so hard for.
If you feel like you could use some help with understanding your body, losing weight, or reworking your body composition to feel your best, please visit www.bewellhwc.com/contact to set up a free discovery call so that we can help you find the best fit for your needs!
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The information shared on the Be Well Blog is not medical advice and should not be interpreted as such. Always consult with a doctor before making any major lifestyle changes.