Kate Save is the CEO and co-founder of Be Fit Food. She is also an accredited practising dietitian, diabetes educator and exercise physiologist.
If you’re feeling sluggish, craving a sugar hit, and your clothes are inexplicably a little tighter these days, it’s likely that you’re due for a metabolism reboot. Sugar cravings, lethargy and unexpected weight gain are all signs that your metabolism may be operating in slow-mo. And while genetics do play a part in just how fast it will go, you can also get your metabolism to pick up the speed by adjusting what you eat.
Your metabolism is what converts your food into energy, but when we eat too many carbs or sugar, our body throws the excess glucose into our fat cells. When our fat cells are full, they are forced to enlarge, which causes inflammation in the body. The more this happens, the higher your insulin levels go, and your metabolism slows down as a result because insulin is what drives fat-storage.
But before it can turn into fatty liver disease or type 2 diabetes, what you can do is reboot your metabolism by adjusting your diet to encourage fat-burning.
A metabolism reset means shifting to a restricted meal plan for a short time – typically two weeks – so your body can start to metabolise stored fat and reduce inflammation in the body.
Everyone has different tastes and preferences, but a metabolism reset is easily achieved by following these general guidelines.
1. Choose carbs carefully
Not all carbs are equal, and those which are found in non-starchy vegetables, salads and fruits should make up 80 per cent of the volume of every meal.
By including loads of these foods, you will naturally reduce the calorie-dense carbs with restriction leading to effective weight loss, reduced blood sugar levels and insulin levels, which is a key inhibitor to weight loss.
Reducing your intake of calorie-dense carbs automatically forces your body to burn fat stored around your midsection for energy, rather than the sugars it takes from carbohydrates. Additionally, cutting back on carbs should see your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels drop, too.
2. Eat real food
Ditch the artificial supplements and cleanses. Wholefoods is what our body needs to work with, and that’s because our body’s natural purifier, the liver, slows down when it has to process highly processed foods.
The liver removes toxins and is involved in fat metabolism, but when we eat artificial substances and highly processed foods, it has to work harder to effectively detoxify and metabolise food. Overloading the liver with artificial food can impede waste removal from the body and slow down fat metabolism.
3. Focus on your gut
By now, you’ll have heard of the importance of a healthy gut microbiome. To build good gut health, you should seek to eat a range of probiotics (good gut bacteria) and prebiotics (fertiliser for the bacteria) to help support the new healthy weight your body will achieve.
Choosing a predominantly plant based diet with some lean protein and health fats will restore the health of the gut. A great example of a microbe-friendly diet is the Mediterranean diet. Legumes, fruits, wholegrains, olive oil, yoghurt, dairy, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fish are all very beneficial for your gut microbes.
4. Anti-inflammatory foods
A slow metabolism can lead to chronic inflammation of the body, which is linked to major chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. To reduce inflammation, eat foods rich in antioxidants such as blueberries, green tea, dark chocolate, avocado, or dark leafy greens like kale.
The general rule of thumb is to ‘eat the rainbow’ and so make sure you stock up on loads of colourful fruit and veggies. Herbs and spices such as turmeric, cumin, pepper, or chilli can also have an excellent anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
5. Drink water
I’m not the first dietitian to stress the importance of water intake, and I certainly won’t be the last. Not only does water help with digestion, satiety and liver function, but many studies show that there’s a link between increased water consumption and weight loss. If you’re looking for a magic elixir to improve your overall health and speed up your weight loss, this is it.
After three months of varied eating, your metabolism may begin to slow again, so an easy reminder that you may be in for another reboot is when the seasons change. When you reset your metabolism, you’re also resetting your energy levels, your immunity, your sleep and gut health. It can increase insulin sensitivity, stabilise blood sugar levels, improve blood fat profile and encourage sustained weight loss. Even for those with a body weight within the healthy weight range, two weeks of a restricted diet can reduce blood pressure, improve blood cholesterol levels and even sleep.