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What Causes a Broken Metabolism?

Apr 13, 2020

In the last post, we discussed the symptoms that my client Cindy had that pointed her to realize that she was suffering from a broken metabolism.

But how did Cindy's metabolism break in the first place?

What causes metabolic damage?

In the simplest explanation a broken metabolism is a break down at the cellular level in your ability to use carbohydrate (glucose), protein (to a tiny extent), and fat (fatty acids) for energy to produce ATP, most likely due to insulin resistance.

This can mean your cells don't burn food energy well, your cells don't store it well, or your cells can't get the energy out of storage well.

For example, if you eat a muffin and you have a damaged metabolism due to insulin resistance, your body will release a surge of insulin, more than what is normally needed, to drive the sugar from the muffin into your cells to burn for energy.  

With metabolic damage from insulin resistance, your cells are already full of sugar. Like an overstuffed suitcase, they can't take any more sugar. So the sugar sits in the bloodstream unable to get into the cell. Your insulin responds by surging even more and driving the sugar into your fat stores which can take practically endless amounts of sugar.  

The problem progresses between meals as your insulin continues to be released into your bloodstream which blocks any fat from being mobilized from your fat stores. Although you are between meals and should be burning your fat stores, the persistent insulin in your blood blocks your fat cells from releasing any of those fats to be burned.

This is why your excess body fat seems so stubborn!

It's physiologically trapped due to your metabolic damage!

With insulin resistance, you can't properly burn the sugar you eat, you store it as fat primarily, and then you can't get to it to burn later when you're not eating.

It's a pretty big deal.

So how does it happen?

Why does it happen?

Let's explore metabolic damage and how it occurs.  

First though, a couple of things about metabolic damage in general.

Metabolic damage is time-dependent. 

Meaning, it happens slowly over time. The longer you persist with damaging habits, the worse your metabolic damage gets.

This is why it takes some women longer than others to repair the damage.  

If you're a 64-year-old woman with a 30-year history of dieting, low-fat living, and high carbohydrate intake, your damage level may be substantial.  

Whereas a 45-year-old woman with a history of eating mostly processed and fast foods may be able to reverse her metabolic damage much quicker.

Damage is done over time due to layering issues, mostly accidental and certainly never with the intent to do damage. Reversing it can be time-dependent as well and has to be intentional.

Metabolic damage is influenced by your genes.

The hand of cards you hold genetically matters. If your genes already lean toward not being able to metabolize carbohydrates or fats very well, you will need to be very diligent about respecting your carbohydrate tolerance level.

If you have family members, mother, father, or siblings, that struggle with their weight or have the signs or symptoms of metabolic damage, you are probably moving through life with a hand of cards that make you more susceptible to metabolic damage than another woman.

This is not to say you can't do anything about your metabolism, on the contrary. It means genes may play a part, but you can still take action to fix your metabolism, DESPITE your genes.

The top 4 causes of a broken metabolism.


Have you been following the food guide pyramid, My Plate, American Heart Association dietary recommendations or mainstream diet recommendations to increase whole grains and avoid fat?

While I'm sure their intent was not to harm...harm was done. Basing your diet on carbohydrates, even whole grains, while avoiding fats leads to inevitable metabolic damage. This is why so many women over 40 identify with having a broken metabolism. Because they dutifully followed the rules and the rules had consequences.

When 60-70% of all your daily calories come from blood sugar spiking, insulin inducing foods, regardless of calorie intake, that drives insulin resistance.

Not all carbohydrates are bad. The real problem comes from the carbohydrate processing and the fact that we eat too many of them too often throughout the day.  

Whole wheat pasta is not health food.

Do you buy low-fat or fat-free products?

These products have taken out the fat and replaced it with... sugar. 

Sugar is the #1 metabolic damager.  

It wreaks havoc on your blood sugars and insulin control. When we were told to switch over to low-fat Wheat Thins with low-fat cheese, we were inadvertently burdening our systems with too many sugars and carbohydrates (which turn into sugar in our body) and flooded our system with insulin.  

Over and over and over.

Fat is a wonderful energy source for your body that doesn't cause blood sugar or insulin spikes. But we were told to stop eating it. This was a huge mistake.

Fat-free, light, low-fat, and cholesterol-free products are not better for your health. [1]


Do you eat at restaurants or fast food three or more times per week?  

If so, you are probably exposing yourself to large amounts of soybean oil. It's the most common oil found in the American food supply and heavily used in commercial cooking. It has been directly linked to causing insulin resistance and a host of other issues.

Do you eat processed foods, premade salad dressings, dips, or any food in a bag or box? 

Soybean strikes oil again! Soybean oil is found in virtually everything. It's grown in America, subsidized by the government and therefore cheap, cheap, cheap.  

Research out of the University of California Riverside continues to link soybean oil with health issues ranging from inflammation, brain health, heart health, cancer, and metabolic disorders.

Soybean oil has been directly linked with insulin resistance and damage to our cells right at the membrane layer. Meaning, it physically damages our cells.

Polyunsaturated soybean oil, or "vegetable oil" is not good for you. [2]

*Whole soybeans products like edamame, pressed soybeans like tofu and soybean liquid like soymilk are different products.  Whole soy foods do not create metabolic damage.


This one is surprising to people because we've all been taught that to keep your metabolism a slow simmer and to prevent overeating, you should eat small meals throughout the day.

First off, your metabolism doesn't work like a wood-burning fireplace. When you eat all day, you are stimulating your blood glucose and insulin all day too. This causes your body to only burn the sugar you keep feeding it and blocking its ability to reach into your fat stores for energy.  

If you're eating snacks to "rev up your metabolism" to burn body fat- biologically, you're doing the opposite. You're blocking fat-burning as your body is stuck in sugar-burning mode.

I know.

Snacking stimulates your blood sugar, which stimulates your insulin and stimulates it all day long. Persistent, high insulin leads to weight gain and the metabolic damage known as insulin resistance.

There is no such thing as a "healthy snack."

Celery and peanut butter at 3 pm are not going to help you lose weight. [3]


On the heels of snacking is eating late at night for relatively the same reason, but with an added hormone that causes metabolic damage. 

Our bodies function best when we align our eating patterns with our circadian rhythms, the innate 24-hour cycles that tell our bodies when to wake up, when to eat and when to fall asleep. Dr. Satchin Panda of the Salk Institute and other researchers have done amazing studies that show that eating late meals or nibbling on midnight snacks could be a recipe for weight gain and metabolic trouble.

We know that blood sugar control is best in the morning and at its worst in the evening. And this has everything to do with melatonin receptors and insulin control and if you disrupt this balance you end up with metabolic damage and weight gain.

Late-night nibbling is not just about adding extra calories, it creates real metabolic damage and throws your insulin and melatonin off balance.

The late-night popcorn is not harmless fun. [4,5]

Metabolic damage happens over time due mainly to what you eat and when you eat.

  • Eating too many processed carbohydrates and sugar in your diet now or in the past causes metabolic damage that leads to weight gain and stubborn excess body fat.
  • Eating too much soybean oil found in processed food products and restaurants leads to cellular dysfunction that causes insulin-resistant metabolic damage that leads to poor health and stubborn excess body fat.
  • Eating too often and not in sync with your body's natural metabolic rhythms leads to metabolic damage due to the stimulation of the wrong hormones at the wrong times.

There are other causes of metabolic damage as well.

Metabolic damage can also be caused by: 

  • past diets cycles
  • very low-calorie diets
  • yo-yo dieting
  • letting your weight fluctuate large amounts over time
  • supplements
  • medications
  • medical conditions
  • malnutrition

Most metabolic damage can be repaired over time by changing what and when you eat.

This is what we do in the Freese Method Online Group Coaching Weight Loss Program. We repair broken and damaged metabolisms so that you can lose weight, achieve glowing health and put an end to dieting.

We don't "diet."

We don't "cleanse."  

We repair.

We return your body to a place of insulin sensitivity, fluidity, and hormonal balance.





  1. Mi-Sung Kim, Sarah A. Krawczyk, Ludivine Doridot, Alan J. Fowler, Jennifer X. Wang, Sunia A. Trauger, Hye-Lim Noh, Hee Joon Kang, John K. Meissen, Matthew Blatnik, Jason K. Kim, Michelle Lai, Mark A. Herman. ChREBP regulates fructose-induced glucose production independently of insulin signalingJournal of Clinical Investigation, 2016; DOI: 10.1172/JCI81993
  2. Poonamjot Deol, Jane R. Evans, Joseph Dhahbi, Karthikeyani Chellappa, Diana S. Han, Stephen Spindler, Frances M. Sladek. Soybean Oil Is More Obesogenic and Diabetogenic than Coconut Oil and Fructose in Mouse: Potential Role for the LiverPLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (7): e0132672 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0132672
  3. Karin E Koopman, Matthan WA Caan, Aart J Nederveen, Anouk Pels, Mariette T Ackermans, Eric Fliers, Susanne E la Fleur, Mireille J Serlie. Hypercaloric diets with increased meal frequency, but not meal size, increase intrahepatic triglycerides: A randomized controlled trialHepatology, 2014; DOI: 10.1002/hep.27149
  4. Amandine Chaix, Terry Lin, Hiep D. Le, Max W. Chang, Satchidananda Panda. Time-Restricted Feeding Prevents Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome in Mice Lacking a Circadian ClockCell Metabolism, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2018.08.004
  5. Hatori, Megumi et al. “Time-restricted feeding without reducing caloric intake prevents metabolic diseases in mice fed a high-fat diet.” Cell metabolism vol. 15,6 (2012): 848-60. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2012.04.019

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