Is Your Metabolism Broken?

Apr 01, 2020

Cindy was convinced there was something wrong with her.

In her career as an Administrative Manager at a law firm, she excelled. She had successfully raised three beautiful kids into tax-paying adults and enjoyed spending her weekends with her fit and trim husband. 

But as she got dressed each day, she was plagued with the nagging shame that something was wrong with her.

Cindy had steadily gained over 30 lbs in the last ten years, especially after menopause, and she couldn't figure out how to get it off.

When she was younger she could lose some weight by watching her portions and showing up to an extra exercise class or two a week.  

But that wasn't working now.

And there were signs that things were getting worse.

She went to have her thyroid checked and she learned that her fasting blood sugar was high and her good cholesterol was low... but her thyroid was normal.

She needed more sleep than she used to and woke up groggy every day. Her coffee intake was steadily increasing by necessity just to stay awake through late afternoon meetings.

She had to buy new pants as her waist continued to grow. She felt like if she even looked at a brownie, she gained weight.

Cindy felt like her metabolism had just shut down completely.  

But was that even real?  

How could she find out if her weight and health issues were due to a broken metabolism?

What is metabolism and can you break it?

Technically, your metabolism is the sum of all the energy or calories that you burn daily. This includes the calories to just stay alive (basal metabolic rate), the calories needed to digest and absorb your food (thermogenic effect of food), and the calories needed for activity and exercise (activity factor).

Even more technically, the metabolic rate of the body is the overall rate of tissue oxidation of fuels by all the body's organs. This means, how much sugar (glucose) or fat (fatty acids) that our mitochondria (the little powerhouse's of our cells) can churn into units of energy we call ATP or adenosine triphosphate.

How efficiently your body can use sugar and fat for ATP energy is your metabolic rate.  

It's the ATP energy that keeps you alive, breathing, thinking, and moving.

Your metabolism is the string of things that happen to take the calories you eat in an apple and turn them into ATP.

ATP for your brain cells to fire so you can think.

ATP for your muscles to contract so you can brush your hair.

ATP for your daily morning walk.

Metabolic damage is an umbrella term that covers any breakdown along the line from when you eat the apple to making the most ATP possible and then how to make ATP when you're not eating.

And, no, you can't really "break" your metabolism, but you can certainly damage it.

It can be broken or damaged like a vase is broken when it is cracked but is still a vase, but not in the sense the vase is broken because it's shattered.

What is a broken metabolism?

In the simplest of terms, a broken or damaged metabolism is when your body's system for making energy isn't functioning at full capacity. It's unable to take the food you eat and burn or store it correctly, or take it out of storage for use.

In the Freese Method, it means that you are suffering from stubborn, excess body weight due primarily to a metabolic phenomenon called insulin resistance.

What are the signs and symptoms of a broken metabolism?

Just like you can see the crack in the vase, you can see the signs and symptoms of a damaged metabolism by looking at how your body looks, how your labs look, your relationship with food and hunger, and your energy levels. 

Let's go through the most common signs and symptoms that you may have metabolic damage due to insulin resistance.

You may have one, many, or all of these symptoms of metabolic damage.  

The more symptoms you have, the more severe your insulin resistance and metabolic damage.

1. STUBBORN, EXCESS BODY FAT

The hallmark symptom of a damaged metabolism due to insulin resistance is stubborn excess body fat that is harder and harder to get off as we age. [2,3]

a. Do you have excess belly fat or have an "apple shape?"

      • This means a waist to hip ratio >0.85 for a woman
        • For example, a woman with a waist of 40 inches and a hip of 42; 40/42= 0.95

b. Are you struggling with stubborn excess weight that won't budge?

      • Bodyweight that won't come off no matter how much exercise you do or how little you eat is due to metabolic damage.

c. Do you regain weight after diets or have large changes in your weight?

      • Weight rebounding after dieting usually accompanied by 5-10 extra pounds is due to insulin imbalances.

2. ABNORMAL LABS

There are diagnostic criteria that can also point to a damaged metabolism due to insulin resistance such as having abnormal lab results. [2,3]

a. Do you have a fasting blood sugar over 89?

      • This is lower than diagnostic >124 mg/dL for diabetes.

b. Do you have high triglycerides?

      • >150 mg/dL or on medication for high triglycerides.

c. Do you have low HDL cholesterol?

      •  <50mg/dL for women

d. Do you have high blood pressure?

      • >130/85mm/Hg or on medication for high blood pressure.

3. INTENSE HUNGER, CRAVINGS, OR THIRST

One of the main reasons that your body will crave sugars or starches like dessert, sweets, pasta, bread, or potatoes, is that your body has trouble maintaining a stable blood sugar to constantly keep the right amount of sugar or glucose in your bloodstream and the inability to use your fat stores for energy when you need it. This is due to the metabolic damage known as insulin resistance. [4]

a. Do you have strong food cravings?

      • If glucose never makes it into the cells and stays in the blood, your cells feel deprived. This can accelerate a feeling of sugar deprivation and craving.

b. Do you have a "sweet tooth?"

      • Because of your metabolic damage, you are unable to utilize your fat stores, your body screams for more sugar and your brain reward center lights up when you eat sugar.

c. Are you "hangry" when you don't eat often?

      • Having big highs and lows in your blood sugar directly affects your mood and when your blood sugar drops quickly, it leads to irritability.

d. Do you find yourself always hungry, even after you may have just eaten?

      • Think about being unable to ever reach into your fat stores for energy but constantly relying on incoming sugar from meals and snacks. This makes you hungry all the time.

4. LACK OF ENERGY AND VITALITY

Getting the right amount of sugar into your cells for energy requires balance and a healthy metabolism. It also requires you to be able to use your body fat stores for energy. Metabolic damage blocks your body from using your fat stores for energy (hence the stubborn weight!), so your energy levels are dependent on having stable blood sugar levels from the food you eat. And if you have metabolic damage, the food you eat leaves you with anything but stable blood sugars.

a. Does your energy and focus take a nosedive between 2-5 pm?

      • By two o'clock in the afternoon, you have been on approximately 4-5, 90-minute cycles of high and low blood sugar shifts. This takes a toll on your energy levels as your body becomes exhausted from the rollercoaster you've been on all day.  

b. Do you need coffee, like neeeed coffee to function?

      • Caffeine blocks adenosine reception so you feel alert. It injects adrenaline into the system to give you a boost. And it manipulates dopamine production to make you feel good. All the bandaids you need when you can't efficiently produce real energy from the food you eat. [5]

If you have one, many, or all of the symptoms, you may have a broken metabolism.

If you found yourself nodding your head yes for the last 10 minutes as you read through any of these symptoms, you, my friend are suffering, yes suffering, with a damaged metabolism due to insulin resistance.

You don't need to say yes to all of them.  

If you have stubborn excess body fat but your labs are fine, that's enough to diagnose metabolic damage.

If you've thought for years that something was deeply wrong with your metabolism because you couldn't lose weight and could gain 5 lbs just by looking at a brownie, you were right.

I want you to see that your failed past diets, your lack of progress from the hours at the gym, the real hunger that drives you to the pantry to nibble, is not due to your lack of self-control, it's due to your damaged metabolism.

And that is great news because we have the know-how, the tools, and the confidence to help you repair that damage, no matter how many trips around the sun you've taken.

This is what we do every day in the Freese Method Online Group Coaching Weight Loss Program. 

We consistently take small and powerful steps to repair our broken metabolism by reversing our insulin resistance and becoming more insulin sensitive so that we can lose weight, achieve glowing health (bye-bye cholesterol meds!) and put an end to dieting forever.

You can control your weight and prevent weight regain because you've addressed and corrected the root problem: your damaged metabolism.

 

 

Sources

  1. W.P.T. James, A. Ferro-Luzzi, "Metabolic Rate" in Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition (Second Edition), 2003
  2. Srikanthan K, Feyh A, Visweshwar H, Shapiro JI, Sodhi K. Systematic Review of Metabolic Syndrome Biomarkers: A Panel for Early Detection, Management, and Risk Stratification in the West Virginian Population. Int J Med Sci. 2016;13(1):25–38. Published 2016 Jan 1. doi:10.7150/ijms.13800
  3. Lewis GF, Uffelman KD, Szeto LW, Steiner G: Effects of acute hyperinsulinemia on VLDL triglyceride and VLDL apoB production in normal weight and obese individuals. Diabetes. 1993, 42: 833-842. 10.2337/diabetes.42.6.833.
  4. Lennerz, Belinda, and Jochen K Lennerz. “Food Addiction, High-Glycemic-Index Carbohydrates, and Obesity.” Clinical chemistry vol. 64,1 (2018): 64-71. doi:10.1373/clinchem.2017.273532
  5. https://science.howstuffworks.com/caffeine5.htm
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