Can My Aches and Pains Actually Be a Food Intolerance?

Our last blog post was all about digestive enzymes and we touched on the subject of food intolerances, so I wanted to discuss these in a bit more depth and talk about ways you can monitor and address them.

Food intolerances or “sensitivities” can affect you in so many ways.

And they’re a lot more common than most people think.

I’m not talking about anaphylaxis or immediate allergic reactions that involve an immune response. Those can be serious and life-threatening.  If you have any allergies, you need to steer clear of any traces of foods you are allergic to and speak with your doctor or pharmacist about emergency medication, if necessary.

What I’m talking about, is an intolerance, meaning you do not tolerate a specific food very well and it causes immediate or chronic symptoms anywhere in the body. Symptoms can take hours or even days to show themselves. And symptoms can be located just about anywhere in the body.

This is what makes them so tricky to identify.

Symptoms of food intolerances

There are some common food intolerances that have immediate and terribly painful gastrointestinal symptoms, such as lactose intolerance or celiac disease. These can cause stomach pain, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhoea.  Symptoms can start immediately after eating lactose or gluten.

On the other hand, other more insidious symptoms may not be linked to foods in an obvious way.

Symptoms like:

  • Chronic muscle or joint pain
  • Sweating, or increased heart rate or blood pressure
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Exhaustion after a good night’s sleep
  • Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rashes or eczema
  • Inability to concentrate or feeling like your brain is “foggy”
  • Shortness of breath

If your body has trouble digesting specific foods, it can affect your hormones, metabolism, or even cause inflammation and result in any of the symptoms listed above. And these can affect any (or all) parts of the body, not just your gastrointestinal system.

How to prevent these intolerances

The main thing you can do is to figure out which foods or drinks you may be reacting to and stop ingesting them.

I know, I know…this sounds so simple, and yet it can be SO HARD.

The best way to identify your food/drink triggers is to eliminate them.

Yup, get rid of those offending foods/drinks. All traces of them, for three full weeks and monitor your symptoms. 

If things get better, then you need to decide whether it’s worth it to stop ingesting them, or if you want to slowly introduce them back one at a time while still looking out to see if/when symptoms return.

Start Here: Two common food intolerances

Here are two of the most common triggers of food intolerances:

  • Lactose (in dairy – eliminate altogether or look for a “lactose-free” label – try nut or coconut milk instead).
  • Gluten (in wheat, rye, and other common grains – look for a “gluten-free” label – try gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa & gluten-free oats).

This is by no means a complete list, but it’s a good place to start because lactose intolerance is thought to affect up to 65% of all people world-wide, while “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” can affect up to 13% of people.

So, if you can eliminate all traces of lactose and gluten for three weeks, it can confirm whether either, or both of these, are a source of your symptoms.

Aim to replace the dairy with nutrient-dense foods to ensure you get all the nutrients you need while you’re eliminating them from your diet.

A reliable way to monitor how you feel after eating certain foods is to track it. After every meal or snack, write down the foods you ate, and any symptoms so you can more easily spot trends.  Keep a small notepad with you and jot things down as soon as possible so you don’t forget what you’ve eaten.  Also make a note of how you’re feeling and any symptoms that appear and when they happen.

As mentioned earlier, symptoms may not start immediately following a meal. You may find, for example, that you wake up with a headache the morning after eating bananas.

You might be surprised what links you can find if you track your food and symptoms well!

IMPORTANT NOTE: When you eliminate something, you need to make sure it’s not hiding in other foods, or the whole point of eliminating it for a few weeks is lost. Restaurant food, packaged foods, and sauces or dressings are notorious for adding ingredients that you’d never think are there. You know that sugar hides in almost everything, but did you also know that wheat is often added to processed meats and soy sauce, and lactose can even be found in some medications or supplements?

When in doubt ask the server in a restaurant about hidden ingredients, read labels, and consider cooking from scratch.      

What if it doesn’t work?

If eliminating these two common food intolerances doesn’t work, then you can go one step further to eliminate all dairy (even lactose-free) and all grains (even gluten-free) for three weeks.  There are quite a few elimination diet meal plans available that will help make life easier and remember, it’s not forever… unless of course you discover you’re intolerant to something and you’d rather live without the symptoms.

Other common trigger foods are:

  • Eggs
  • Fish and Shellfish
  • Caffeine
  • Nightshade foods – peppers, potatoes, aubergine
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (e.g. almonds, cashews, walnuts)
  • Soy


Recipe (food containing bromelain & papain): Tropical (digestive) smoothie

Serves 1

1 cup pineapple, diced
1 cup papaya, diced
1 banana, chopped
1 cup coconut milk
ice if desired

Put all ingredients(except ice) into the blender and blend. Add ice if desired.

Serve & enjoy! Tip: The levels of enzymes in whole pineapple and papaya aren’t as concentrated as taking them in a supplement; so if you’re not allergic to these delicious fruits, you can try this smoothie.

All About Digestive Enzymes

At a time of year when many of us have over-indulged it’s important to think about our gut-health.  During this season we often eat to excess and include large quantities of foods that we would normally be much more restrictive of.  The result can be a tummy that doesn’t always feel comfortable.  You might suffer with bloating, flatulence or worse.

At Inspire we often talk to our members about the benefits of taking probiotic supplements and including prebiotics in their diet, but what about digestive enzyme supplements.  They’re definitely not for everyone and they’re not created equal either.

So, let’s dive into a few of the common digestive enzymes, what they do, and who should NOT take them.

What are digestive enzymes?

Technically, “enzymes” are compounds that help critical biochemical reactions to happen in your body. These reactions can be anything, from making neurotransmitters like serotonin, to burning food for energy, to breaking down food we eat into smaller pieces that our guts can absorb.

Oh, and their names all end with “ase”.

As you’ve probably guessed, “digestive enzymes” are specifically those enzymes we use for digestion. They’re enzymes that our digestive system naturally makes and secretes when we eat.

It’s important to know that all the “macronutrients” we eat (carbs, protein & fat) need to be broken down into their individual (smaller) parts so that we can properly absorb and digest them. They’re just too big otherwise, and if we don’t absorb them properly, we can get symptoms of fatigue, malnutrition, digestive distress, or a host of other symptoms. 

It is these individual (smaller) parts that our body amazingly rearranges and uses to create other larger molecules that our body needs.

The most common digestive enzymes you’ll see on product labels are:

  • Amylase – Helps to break down starch into its sugars.
  • alpha-Galactosidase – Helps to break down specific “fermentable carbohydrates” into its sugars.
  • Lactase – Helps to break down lactose into its sugars.
  • Protease – Helps to break down protein into its amino acids.
  • Bromelain and/or Papain – Help to break down protein into its amino acids.
  • Lipase – Helps to break down fats into its lipids.

Who should consider taking digestive enzymes?

In general, the most common digestive symptoms that enzymes *may* help with are bloating, cramping, and/or diarrhoea. Particularly if it happens after eating certain foods (think lactose-intolerance symptoms after eating dairy).  If you often suffer with any of these symptoms it might be worth keeping a food diary for a while to see if there’s a common trigger.

One reason for these symptoms can be that food particles are not broken down properly, and the larger pieces travel further down the digestive tract to the gut microbiome where those little critters start breaking them down themselves. And this can be troublesome for some people.

A healthy gut microbiome is absolutely essential for good health but often our lifestyles throw the balance of our gut microbiota out so that the “bad” bacteria outweigh the good.  Poor diet, lack of activity or sleep and antibiotics will all affect the balance of your gut bacteria.

More and more research is showing just how it can affect not only our digestion, but also our immune system, and even our mood.

What do I need to know? – Medical conditions

Of course, you should read the label of any products you take, and take them as directed, especially if they’re not specifically recommended for you by a health care practitioner who knows your history.

Here are two critical things to be aware of:

1 – Digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates into sugars are not recommended for diabetics, or pregnant/breastfeeding women.

This is because taking them breaks down more carbohydrates into sugars than your body normally would; so, anyone at risk of blood sugar issues should take with caution.

2 – When it comes to enzymes that break down proteins into amino acids, there are a few people who should avoid them because of potential interactions. That is if you have an ulcer, or are taking blood-thinners or anti-inflammatories, or if you’re having surgery.

The reason is because the digestive enzymes that break down protein are thought to cause or worsen ulcers, as well as have the ability to “thin” the blood and prevent normal clotting.

What do I need to know? – Possible Side effects

Using digestive enzyme supplements for a prolonged period of time may well justify an appointment with a knowledgeable practitioner. There may be strategies other than daily supplementation that can serve you better.

If you find that your symptoms get worse, or even if they don’t get better, you should probably stop using them.

Allergies are also a possiblity, so if you know or suspect you’re allergic, then you should avoid them.

And, as always, keep supplements away from children.

Before considering a digestive enzyme supplement

You shouldn’t just jump to supplementing with digestive enzymes without a proper diagnosis or at least trying a few strategies first.

My first recommendation for digestive distress would be to relax more, eat slower, and chew more thoroughly. Chewing signals the release of natural digestive enzymes within the digestive tract.  This helps to break down food and can put less stress on your digestive tract.

The second step would be to try eliminating certain troublesome foods from your diet (dairy & gluten, for example) and see if that helps.


While many supplements are safe products, they’re not all for everyone. 

Make sure you:

  • Read your labels carefully (who should take them, how to take them, when to stop taking them).
  • If you have a medical condition or are taking medications speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you want expert advice on whether a specific supplement is for you, speak with a qualified health care practitioner.


Natural Medicines Database, Bromelain, Papain, Retrieved January 21, 2017 from

Is Stress Making you Fat? How to Naturally Lower The Stress Hormone (Cortisol)


Its causes are absolutely everywhere. Would you agree?

Our natural “fight or flight” stress response can sometimes go a little overboard. It’s supposed to help us escape injury or death in an emergency and then return to normal after we’ve fought or flew. But, that doesn’t happen too well in our current lives – it becomes a long-term reaction. It becomes chronic.

You’ve probably heard of the main stress hormone, called “cortisol.”  It’s released from your adrenal glands in response to stress. It’s also naturally high in the morning to get you going, and slowly fades during the day so you can sleep.

Did you know that too-high levels of cortisol are associated with belly fat, poor sleep, brain fog, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and even lowers your immunity?

Do you experience any of these? Well, read on because I have a list of foods, nutrients and lifestyle recommendations to help you lower this stress hormone naturally!

Foods and nutrients to lower cortisol

Let’s start with one of the biggies that increase your cortisol… sugar. Reducing the sugar we eat and drink can be a great step toward better health for our minds (and bodies).

High doses of caffeine also increase your cortisol levels. If coffee makes you feel anxious and jittery, then cut back on the amount of caffeine you ingest.

Also, being dehydrated increases cortisol. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day, especially if you feel thirsty.

Eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods; this doesn’t just help reduce stress hormone, it helps all aspects of your health.

Lower your cortisol levels with tea and dark chocolate (not the sugary milky kind!). Have a bit to unwind.

Don’t forget your probiotics and prebiotics! There is so much new research about the gut-mind connection, and how taking care of your friendly gut microbes is key!  Make sure you’re eating probiotic rich fermented foods and getting a healthy dose of prebiotic fiber.

Lifestyle techniques to lower cortisol

It’s not just food, but there are things you can do with your time that can lower cortisol.

Reduce your stress with mindfulness. Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces cortisol.

Get enough exercise (but don’t overdo it). While intense exercise increases cortisol levels temporarily, it can reduce overall cortisol levels.

Get enough sleep!  Getting adequate sleep is way too underrated. Sleep reduces cortisol levels and also helps improve your overall health in so many ways.

Relax and have fun. Things like deep breathing, massages, and listening to relaxing music all reduce cortisol.

Be social and bust loneliness. Would you believe me if I told you that science has shown health risks from social isolation and loneliness? It’s true! Maintaining good relationships and spending time with people you like and who support you is key.

So there you have it…

Too much of the stress hormone cortisol can have several negative impacts on your health but  there are many proven ways to reduce levels of cortisol naturally.

In terms of foods and nutrients, have less sugar and caffeine. And have more water, fruit, tea, dark chocolate, probiotics, and prebiotics.

Lifestyle factors are huge when it comes to cortisol. To lower yours, exercise (but not too much), get more sleep, relax, and have more fun.


Common Weight Loss Myths Busted

fat loss tape measure

Weight loss advice is so common (and contentious) now. There are competing opinions everywhere and it can be really hard to know who to listen to.  Just for now, let’s forget about “who’s right” and let’s focus on “what’s right.”

To try and cut through the weight loss “noise” that’s bombarding you all the time lets address the most common weight loss myths:

Myth 1: Calories cause weight gain, and fewer calories are the path to weight loss

This is a really tough one to counter because without a doubt, calories ARE important for weight loss.  If you eat and absorb a ton more than you use, then your body’s wisdom will store some for later. Calories do matter.

But, they are not the “be-all and end-all” of weight loss; they’re important, but they’re one factor, not the only factor.

People eat too many calories, not because they’re hungry, but because they feel sad, lonely, bored, tired or stressed. Or they could overeat because they’re out with friends, happy and celebrating.  Or because the food is hyper-palatable (shorthand for deliberately and scientifically made to encourage over-eating).  And all these factors and feelings interact with our gastrointestinal, nervous and hormonal systems; all of which influence our calorie intake.

Myth: “Eat less, move more” is good advice

Well, then we’re all in tip-top shape, right? Because people have been doling out this advice (myth) for years.

The premise of this is based on the above myth that calories in minus calories out equals your weight. So, eat fewer calories, and burn off more calories (because human physiology is a simple math equation, right?).

It should be this simple… but it’s not.

Even if people can happily and sustainably follow this advice (which they can’t!); it completely negates other factors that contribute to weight problems. Things like the causes of overeating we mentioned above. Not to mention our genetics, health conditions we’re dealing with or our exposure to compounds that are “obesogenic.”

Myth: A calorie is a calorie

Can we please put this one to bed?

Science has confirmed several caloric components of food differ from others. For example, the “thermic effect of food” (TEF) is that some nutrients require calories to be metabolized. They can slightly increase your metabolism, just by eating them.

For example, when you metabolize protein you burn more calories than when you metabolize carbohydrates. Proteins and carbohydrates both have 4 calories/gram; but, the TEF of protein = 15–30%; and the TEF for carbohydrates = 5–10%.

Here’s another example of a calorie not being a calorie. Different fats are metabolized differently. Medium chain triglycerides (fats) (MCTs) have the same 9 calories/gram that other fats do; but, they’re metabolized by the liver before getting into the bloodstream and therefore aren’t utilized or stored the same way as other fats.

Add to this the fact that calorie measuring is not an exact science.  In fact, the calories recorded on foods can be up to 25% out so if you think you’re eating 2000 calories a day you could in fact, be eating anywhere between 1500 and 2500 calories!


Myth: Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight

There is no magic pill for weight loss. No supplement, tea, food, or other potion will do the trick.

There are thousands of products that make these claims, and they’re full of <put expletive here.  The only thing you will lose is your money (and possibly your hope). So, please don’t believe this myth. There is a reason most people who lose weight can’t keep it off. The real magic is in adopting a sustainable holistic and healthy approach to living your life. What you need is a long-term lifestyle makeover, not a product.  There are NO quick fixes.


Weight loss can be hard! There are too many people out there trying to make it sound like they have the simple solution (or the latest and greatest!).

Don’t fall for the myths that say:

  • Is as simple as calories in versus calories out
  • “Eat less move more” is all you need to think about
  • A calorie is a calorie
  • Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight

How to read nutrition labels to help you lose weight

If you’re trying to lose weight then you should be at least glancing at the nutrition labels on the side of food packets when you go shopping to help you make healthier, more nutritious food choices but it’s not always easy to get the information you want from them.  You’d think being able to see the number of calories, carbs, sodium etc. would help you eat better but there’s often a bit of manufacturing trickery going on that you should be aware of.

The Nutrition label is on the side of most packaged foods. It’s often found close to the ingredient listing.

Here’s a four-step crash course on reading the Nutrition Labels

Step 1: Serving Size

The absolute most important part of the Nutrition Facts table is to note the serving size. Here’s where manufacturers get a bit tricky.  They often strategically choose the serving size to make the rest of the table look good. Small serving = small calories/fat/carbs.  Sneaky huh?

All the information in the label rests on the amount chosen as the serving size. And, since every manufacturer chooses their own, it’s also often difficult to compare two products.

In the next few years there are plans to try and bring a bit more consistency in serving sizes between similar foods and also to make them more realistic about what someone might actually sit down to eat.  This should make it easier to compare between similar foods.

Here’s an example – plain, unsalted walnuts from Costco.


As you can see, right under the Nutrition Facts header is the serving size. That is a ¼ cup or 30g. This means that all the numbers underneath it are based on this amount.

Stop reading now and go see how big ¼ cup is.  Not very big is it?  Most of us would generally eat more walnuts than that in one sitting.  Just watch those serving sizes if weight loss is your goal.

Step 2: % Daily Value

The % Daily Value (%DV) is based on the recommended daily amount of each nutrient the average adult needs. Ideally but unlikely, you’ll get 100% DV for each nutrient every day. This is added up based on all of the foods and drinks you have throughout the day.

NOTE: Since children are smaller and have different nutritional needs if a type of food is intended solely for children under the age of 4, then those foods use a child’s average nutrition needs for the %DV.

The %DV is a guideline, not a rigid rule.

You don’t need to add your entire %DV up for everything you eat all day. Instead, think of anything 5% or less to be a little; and, anything 15% or more to be a lot.

NOTE: Not every nutrient has a %DV. You can see it’s missing for things like cholesterol, sugar, and protein. This is because there isn’t an agreed “official” %DV for that nutrient although some new labels will include a %DV for sugar. Keep your eyes out for that.

Step 3: Middle of the table (e.g. Calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, and protein)

Calories are pretty straight forward. Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts has 200 calories.

Fat is bolded for a reason. That 19 g of fat (29% DV) is total fat. That includes the non-bolded items underneath it. Here, 19 g of total fat includes 1.5 g saturated fat, (19 g – 1.5 g = 17.5 g) unsaturated fat, and 0 g trans fat. (Yes, unsaturated fats including mono- and poly-unsaturated are not on the label, so you need to do a quick subtraction).

Cholesterol, sodium, and potassium are all measured in mg. Ideally, aim for around 100% of potassium and sodium each day. It’s easy to overdo sodium, especially if you grab pre-made, restaurant foods, or snacks. Keep an eye on this number if sodium can be a problem for you (e.g. if your doctor mentioned it, if you have high blood pressure or kidney problems, etc.).

Carbohydrate, like fat, is bolded because it is total carbohydrates. It includes the non-bolded items underneath it like fiber, sugar, and starch (not shown). Here, 30 g of walnuts contain 3 g of carbohydrates; that 3 g are all fiber. There is no sugar or starch. And as you can see, 3 g of fiber is 12% of your daily value for fiber.

Proteins, like calories, are pretty straight forward as well. Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts contains 5 g of protein.

Step 4: Bottom of the table (e.g. vitamins & minerals)

The vitamins and minerals listed at the bottom of the table are also straightforward. New labels tend to also list potassium, calcium, and iron. Yes, potassium will drop from the middle of the table to the bottom, and both vitamins A & C will become optional.

Manufacturers can add other vitamins and minerals to the bottom of their Nutrition labels if they wish. You’ll notice that some foods contain a lot more vitamins and minerals than others do.


Hopefully this will be helpful information for you when you next go shopping.  The best way to lose weight is to eat foods that don’t have nutrition labels on them and come in unprocessed forms but if you are buying foods that come in bags and packets the keeping an eye on the labels and serving sizes will help you manage your intake and get a balanced diet.

I’m shocked and annoyed.  In fact, I’m fuming.

It’s not often I rant and I never, ever criticise a competitor unless I think they’re doing something that’s unsafe and even then I try to be diplomatic about it.  It’s unprofessional, unnecessary and doesn’t help anyone.  But without mentioning any names I’m going to make an exception in this case because I’m so angry about the treatment of someone who deserves our admiration, not discouragement.

We’ve got a few new members, one of which is a lovely young lady who’s also signed up for a 12 week course with a well-known weight loss group.  She’s got a considerable amount of weight to lose after having children and she sensibly recognises that exercise coupled with healthy eating is the best way to improve her health and set a good example to her children.

She knows that we do weight management programmes but was happy to continue with what she’d started and we’re happy for her to do that too.  If it’s working there’s absolutely no need to change.

She’s been doing well, consistently losing reasonable numbers.  However, this week her weight loss dropped to 2lbs.  2lbs!  It’s still a great result.  But the comment she received was “Well, you’re not going to hit the high numbers now you’re exercising.  After all muscle weighs heavier than fat!”

The young lady in question was so bothered by the comment that it was still on her mind 24 hours later when she came in to work out and it was almost the first thing she mentioned to us.  She said she thought she’d done quite well but after the comment felt completed deflated.

Well first of all, there’s ignorance there.  Muscle does not weigh heavier than fat, it’s denser and therefore takes up less space but 1lb of muscles weighs exactly the same as 1lb of fat… 1lb, that’s what it weighs.  Unless we’re measuring the cubic volume of both fat and muscle then the whole “muscle weighs heavier than fat” argument is misleading.  Anyone running weight loss classes should know better than that and actually, this backs up our belief that the scales are a poor measure of progress on a health journey.

Second and more importantly… how dare you treat someone with such disdain?  This young lady has stepped outside her comfort zone to create a healthier life for herself and her family and should be applauded for every single small victory on the road to her goal.

She should be applauded for trying to find someone to help her eat better.  She should be applauded for becoming more active.  She should be applauded for putting herself in situations that are probably uncomfortable for her just to achieve her aim.  She should be applauded for every ounce of fat she manages to drop.

And maybe that’s where the problem lies.  This particular weight loss group organiser clearly wants her “clients” to lose weight because I’m guessing they’ll only stay with her while they are but she either isn’t aware of the implications, or worryingly, doesn’t care whether that’s fat or metabolic tissue they’re losing.  I sincerely hope she’s not discouraging people to exercise because yes, their weight loss might slow but other health benefits and their visual appearance will improve and they’ll be far more likely to maintain any weight loss they achieve.  It would be disingenuous if she was.

As fitness and weight loss professionals we have a responsibility to empower anyone who decides to get healthier in every way possible we can.  We should be working together to encourage and congratulate every single victory however big or small an individual achieves on the road to a healthier, fitter, stronger future whether it’s putting money in our pocket or not!

Recipe (Selenium-rich): Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

A deficiency in selenium can affect your thyroid and slow down your metabolism so enjoy this selenium rich pudding.

Serves 4

½ cup Brazil nuts

2 cups water

nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth (optional)

½ cup chia seeds

¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Blend Brazil nuts in water in a high-speed blender until you get smooth, creamy milk.  If desired, strain it with a nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth.

Add Brazil nut milk and other ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined.  Let sit several minutes (or overnight) until desired thickness is reached.

Serve & Enjoy!

Tip:  Makes a simple delicious breakfast or dessert topped with berries.

Is the menopause the reason for your slowed metabolism?

Has the Menopause slowed down your metabolism?

Does the menopause affect your metabolism?  It certainly seems so if you talk to the multitude of ladies who say they suddenly started to gain weight and just couldn’t shift it once they hit the menopause.

And it’s not just weight gain either.  You might feel tired or cold.  Your digestion might seem a bit more “sluggish”.  Your mood might not be as bright as it used to be.

You may be convinced that it’s all down to the menopause but it could be due to a slow metabolism and there’s more than just the menopause that affects your metabolism.

Why does this happen?  Why do metabolic rates slow down?

What can slow my metabolism?

Metabolism includes all of the biochemical reactions in your body that use nutrients and oxygen to create energy.  And there are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories).

We know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in calories out”!  In fact, here are a few of the common things that can slow it down.

Examples of common reasons why metabolic rates can slow down:

  • low thyroid hormone
  • your history of dieting
  • your size and body composition
  • your activity level
  • lack of sleep

We’ll briefly touch on each one below and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”.

Low thyroid hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism.  When it produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down.  The thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and become more metabolically active.   Ideally it should work to keep your metabolism just right.  But there are several things that can affect it and throw it off course.  Things like autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine or selenium) for example.

Tip: If you’re concerned have a chat with your doctor about having your thyroid hormones tested.

Your history of dieting

When people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down.  This is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions and do it all with less food.

While dieting can lead to a reduction in amount of fat it unfortunately can also lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle you have.  As you know more muscle means faster resting metabolic rate.

Tip: Make sure you’re eating enough food to fuel your body without overdoing it.  Eating slowly allows you to eat intuitively and will make you less likely to overeat.

Your size and body composition

In general, larger people have faster metabolic rates.  This is because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one.

However, you already know that gaining weight is rarely the best strategy for increasing your metabolism.

Muscles that actively move and do work need energy.  Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat.  This means that the amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have.

Tip: Do some strength training to help increase your muscle mass.

Which leads us to…

Your activity level

Aerobic exercise will temporarily increase your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work” and you can tell because you’ll start to get warmer.

Even little things can add up.  Walking a bit farther than you usually do, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can all contribute to more activity in your day.

As well as burning calories these activities are important for your general health.

The biggest bang for your buck though is to make sure you do some resistance training at least twice a week.  This maintains your lean tissue which is metabolically active, meaning it burns calories even at rest.  Also, strength training raises your metabolic rate for up to 24 hours.  Win win.

Tip:  Incorporate regular movement into your day and strength train at least twice a week.

Lack of sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate or looking at it another way, the effect of lack of sleep!  The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night.

So you can see how complicated metabolism is and how the factors that affect it are also often affected by the menopause.  Many of things that affect the speed of your metabolism will also influence the symptoms you experience going through menopause.


Brand New Programme to Help Diabetics Manage Long-Term Blood Sugar Levels

There are currently almost 3.7 million people in the UK who have been diagnosed with diabetes and it’s estimated that there are up to 1 million with Type 2 who haven’t yet been diagnosed.

Metabolic Fit is a new training programme for regulating blood sugar levels.

Since 1998, the number of people suffering from diabetes has increased by 38 percent – and the number continues to rise. According to a Canadian study, diabetes shortens life by an average of more than 12 years. To prevent this from happening, physical activity is essential, in addition to nutrition.

eGym carried out a Germany-wide six-month diabetes study with users training on the eGym machines.  Conducted in cooperation with the University of Leipzig, the study investigated the impact of different types of training on important disease-related parameters.

The study showed that combined strength and endurance training was the most effective training to improve long-term blood sugar levels (HbA1c), cardiovascular performance and quality of life.

The corresponding training parameters have been transferred to fit. eGym‘s software driven training and are the basis of the new training programme Metabolic

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