We all know it is coming. We fight it tooth and nail. We don’t give into the relentless annoyance of it. But yet, somehow it always seems to have the upper hand. And by “it”, I mean your metabolism or lack thereof.
How is it that three little numbers makes us lose so much sleep?
Before starting yet another dieting spree, let’s take a step back and understand what metabolism is and how it changes through the aging process. If we don’t understand it, we can’t change it.
Metabolism is a “series of chemical reactions that sustain the living state of organisms and cells.” Metabolism can slow one to two percent each year after the age of 30.
Nutrition is the KEY to metabolism! Carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals and vitamins comprise the majority of fuel needed to keep metabolism operational.
Let’s take a brief look at how each one plays a role.
- Carbohydrates: This includes starch, sugar and fiber. When eaten in moderation, carbohydrates are broken down to fuel metabolism.
- Protein: Proteins are the main tissue builders in the body. They are part of every cell in the body. Proteins help in cell structure and function. They are also vital in supplying nitrogen for DNA and RNA genetic material and energy production.
- Fats: Fats produce twice as much energy as either carbohydrates or protein. They help form the cellular structure, help absorb fat soluble vitamins and provide a reserve storage for energy.
- Minerals and vitamins: Minerals do not play a direct role in energy needs but play an important role in metabolism. Vitamins are essential compounds that the body doesn’t produce and therefore relies up nutritional intake.
What are some other potential causes of a slowed metabolism?
- Hypothyroidism and other endocrine issues
- Inadequate sleep
- Chronic stress
- Exogenous hormone intake
- Hormonal imbalance (low estrogen and testosterone)
- Medication side effects
- Excess supplement intake
- Excess fat intake
- Calorie deprivation
- Low muscle mass
The good news is that there are ways to naturally increase our metabolism. But first understand something. Chasing after a “goal” weight or “ideal” size is unrealistic and can lead to frustration and disappointment. The scale doesn’t take in to account skeletal density, muscle mass or fat reserves. It only tells you an absolute number, a number which is false and misleading.
Don’t panic yet. We are not doomed forever. Here are some simple ways (many of which we have seen before) to raise your metabolism.
- Assessing the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). The Resting Metabolic Rate test (RMR) determines the amount of calories your body is using at rest. The results of a Resting Metabolic Rate test can tell if you have an increased or decreased metabolism, and if your body primarily uses fats or carbohydrates for energy. This information can be used to determine the amount of calories you need to eat each day to maintain or lose weight. The testing is done by breathing into a mask that measures your Oxygen –Carbon Dioxide exchange.
- Increase muscle mass. Strength training three to four times a week is mandatory when trying to increase metabolism. Developing and maintaining muscle mass allows the RPR to increase. Every pound of muscle uses approximately six calories a day to sustain itself, while each pound of fat burns only two calories daily.
- Eat. Calorie deprivation causes the body to go into crisis mode. As a preservation mechanism, the body slows down its metabolic response by storing fat and calories. Adding protein to every meal allows a constant release of glucose and maintains insulin regulation.
- Drink up. Dehydration is the killer when it comes to a slow metabolism. Calories need water to process. Even small levels of dehydration can cause a slowing of the RPR. Try for a goal of 90oz/day. If you struggle to get down your daily water quota, consuming fresh fruits that contain natural water is a great alternative.
- Sleep. Think of sleep like pulling into the gas station. We have to bring the car to a complete stop before we can fuel up. Just the same, sleep forces us to stop so that the body may refuel. If we compromise on sleep, we wake up on an empty tank of gas and expected to go the same distance as if the tank was full. Not possible. To sustain life, the body saves energy by decreasing metabolism.
- Question your medications and supplements. Just because it doesn’t say it on the package insert doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Assume everything going into your mouth is the cause until you proven otherwise. See what lifestyle changes you can make that could help you get off of prescription drugs.
- Maintain zero expectations. Our body will never be how it was in our 20’s and 30’s. So how can we expect it to respond in the same manner? Don’t be disappointed because you lost “only three pounds”. Be happy you didn’t gain three pounds. Body fat percentage, changes in clothing fit, how you feel is the REAL goal.
Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by looking for a solution under every advertisement. In the US, the weight loss market is a billion dollar industry! If these companies claim to have the answer, then how come we are still the most overweight nation? These are empty promises. The diet pills, the latest calorie restricted programs that leave you emaciated and crabby, the guaranteed “to lose 20# in 20 days” nonsense. THEY DON’T WORK. Don’t waste your money. Our parents and grandparents didn’t seem to struggle as we are now. So how come it is the topic of almost every conversation? What was once a simple seamless process of aging has now become a race against who can promise the fastest results.
If we stop for a second and reflect, in every moment of life our bodies are in constant conversation with us. The symptoms we experience are the body’s attempt to get our attention. A slowed metabolism isn’t something to become consumed by. It is an opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle. Rather than trying to “fix” it, listen to what it has to say.
There is no fast way to lose weight. Let me repeat….there is no fast way to lose weight. Dropping weight faster than the body can handle is a sure fire way to crash the metabolism to an all-time low.
Be gentle and patient with yourself. No matter what the scale says, you will always be worth more than those three little numbers.
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each person as a whole, not just a list of symptoms. Our office is committed to helping our patients stay well and maintain good health rather than treating patients only after they become ill.
Often a hospital or clinic will offer an onsite cholesterol test at a health fair or health-themed event. You receive a number calculated from a drop of your blood and now you know what your cholesterol level is, right?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. While a blood drop test might identify an extremely high cholesterol level that would alert you to the need to see your doctor immediately, it’s not a thorough enough test to determine whether or not your cholesterol is in the optimal range. While a total cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) is labeled “desirable,” it doesn’t tell the whole story. And when it comes to cholesterol, the more you know, the better.
A Fasting Blood Draw
A more accurate test of your cholesterol levels can be obtained through a fasting blood draw. This will require that you ingest nothing except water nine to 12 hours before your blood draw.
Basic Cholesterol Testing: 3 Numbers to Watch
There are three individual numbers to be aware of and different things can both positively and negatively affect each. What is good and what is bad and how cholesterol levels can be adjusted can be confusing. Once your doctor receives the results, be sure to schedule an office visit in order to discuss them.
- LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) is considered your “bad” cholesterol and an optimal LDL level is 100 mg/dL or less. LDL can attach to the walls of blood vessels and harden, leading to blockages (called atherosclerosis). The higher your LDL number is, the higher your risk for a heart attack due to a blood clot in a blocked artery.
- HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) is your “good” cholesterol. An HDL level of 60 mg/dL is considered optimum. HDL cholesterol is often referred to as the trash crew of the blood stream. It gathers up LDL cholesterol and delivers it to the liver where it can be reprocessed. HDL also scrubs away atherosclerosis.
- Triglycerides are the third number related to your cholesterol that you should know. An optimal triglyceride level is less than 150 mg/dL. Triglycerides are the main form of fat in your body and even though the human body needs some fat to function well, higher triglyceride levels have been linked to a higher risk of heart disease.
Advanced Cholesterol Testing
This basic group of tests to determine your risk for cardiovascular and related diseases is a good start, but they should always be combined with advanced testing to unveil a more accurate picture of total health. Dr. Raman offers advanced cholesterol testing to all of our patients. Molecular lipid particles are tested to measure true cellular inflammation. Knowing these values enables us to take an aggressive approach to prevention before plaque even begins to form.
- Lipoprotein Particles
Lipoprotein particle size/number and Apolipoprotein concentrations reveal levels of good and bad cholesterol particles, which provide a far better predictor of risk than traditional lipid profiles alone.
Inflammatory processes are independent predictors of risk. Testing reveals the level of inflammation of blood vessels that may lead to plaque rupture, ultimately resulting in a heart attack or stroke.
- Heart Function
Advanced tests detect strain or other damage to the heart muscle, which can lead to more appropriate treatment for preventing heart attacks.
Genetic markers predict risk for heart attacks and strokes, plus sensitivity to commonly prescribed medications.
Metabolic markers can lead to early detection of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which may reduce or eliminate a patient’s need for insulin.
- HD-Omega-3 Index
A Fatty Acid Profile is a potent indicator of the nutrients in a patient’s diet that can improve cardiovascular health.
Talk to Your Doctor About Your Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol levels can be a frustrating combination to manage, so a good relationship with your doctor is essential. Once you have baseline numbers to discuss, your doctor can help you understand what you’re doing right and what you can do to improve, relative to your cholesterol levels. Problematic cholesterol levels can be positively affected by lifestyle changes, like improving nutrition, losing weight and increasing exercise. But since genetics can play a role in cholesterol levels, a strong partnership with your doctor is the best start to assessing and addressing any health risks. A great website with some more tools can be found by clicking here.
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice embraces a holistic approach to health care. We don’t want to just treat patients after they become ill; we want to help our patients stay well and maintain good health from the inside out.
If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, contact Dr. Raman to learn more about our practice and how you can partner with us for better health.