Q: I have literally tried every diet on the market. I get excited about every new fat burner and pill and have tried pretty much all of them. I eat almost nothing in a day, exercise a bit and yet I am not losing weight! What am I doing wrong???
A: Thanks for your question. Cue jaws soundtrack..hahahah.
Right missy, what we have here is one of two things! Firstly, you need to check centimeters instead of weight, the scale tells me nothing! I can gain 3 kgs in a day depending on what i’ve eaten, if i’ve gone to the bathroom, how much water i’ve had or just a speck too much salt! See? So rather have a look at whether you are losing in the cm department!
Secondly and the alternative, is a failure to ignite your metabolism! You and pretty much 99.9% of the population, male and female! I love to use my analogy of the metabolism being like a bonfire…if you start the bonfire now and pack it with tons of wood, it burns, it burns BIG. Walk away and go have a swim, then braai, then chat with buddies, have a snack, snooze, come back 6 hours later and BOO! no more bonfire, It is now but a smoldering pile of ash. On the flip side, start that bonfire, get it raging, then add wood to it often and you have a fire that will attract the neighbours, four blocks down. This is your metabolism! You feed it, it wakes up, then you leave it for hours and hours and hours and it has no reason to be functioning so it goes dormant and eventually ‘shuts down’. the body is smart like that, it will switch off anything that it considers a waste of energy!
What I think has happened in your case, and you could be describing the majority of the population these days, is that every diet that you have been on has basically helped to destroy your metabolism. I am going to hazard a guess, but they were all torturous! By punishing yourself with those diets,you have in turn punished your body and it retaliates by becoming stunted and lethargic. No wood on the fire, no need to burn, right?
It is true, to a point, that you can inherit a slow metabolism, but lifestyle makes a huge huge difference and you can change it! Also, fat burners mess with the natural signal between your brain and stomach and shut down the hunger signal (and many will try argue this fact) and most of the fat burners increase the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. So if you are suffering from anxiety, fat burners can worsen your problem.. Anyhoo, use that for long enough and you won’t know whether you are hungry, tired or thirsty. Its like a traffic light going out in peak hour traffic, chaos!
So what now?
Now you need to reset yourself! It sounds like a giant schlep but in the big scheme of things, and in the longer run, it is the only option you have. Unless you want to live in this perpetual ‘diet-starve-stagnate’ cycle. Try out some natural ways to boost your metabolism (I will list them below, but first check if you are doing these few things wrong and correct them!)
– Do you diet, starve yourself for said amount of time then binge eat everything in your cupboard and fridge, thus putting on more weight and actually ending up heavier than before you started?
– Cutting out natural foods that your body needs to function optimally and thereby causing cravings, which means you wake up at 3am and want chocolate covered raisins on a bed of vanilla ice cream (no don’t go eat that!). Have you left out natural fruit sugars, slow release carbohydrates (Taboo? not in my world, in my world essential!), healthy fats?
– Are you using stimulants to mask your body’s natural responses and cue’s, like hunger and thirst?
– Living off lettuce leaves and air? I.e. eating hardly anything
– Hardly exercising at all? Or too much? These can both be detrimental.
– Do you flit from one plan to the next, weekly? Your body does not really make lasting changes before a solid 2 weeks, the chemicals in your body only start to notice changes then. Patience and consistency!
– DITCH THE CHEMICALS! leave the fat burners and meal replacements, eat real food. Your body was designed to do that!
– EAT BREAKFAST! within half an hour of wake up, a nutritious meal preferably with some protein should be shoved in your mouth! Eating causes thermogenisis (ooo fancy), when your body uses calories for digestion! Eating will also signal your metabolism that its ‘go-time’ and switch your brain on! Both necessary!
-Train often and if you are training often then boot it up a notch! Interval training is magical! Doing this will help you consume more oxygen and make your mitochondria (cell powerhouses) work harder to burn energy
– Increase your muscle mass!! Yip, I said it. Exercise more yes, but with the aim of increasing lean muscle. Lean muscle is active! It demands energy to maintain it, and therefore increases metabolism! YAY!
– My favourite! Green tea! YIP! it contains catechin which boosts metabolism. Greentea also helps with water retention and lowering blood pressure!
– Eat plenty fish or take an omega supplement! They help body not to resist Leptin, the feel full hormone!
– Eat more! yes! Eat more. Smaller, more regular meals of clean food. Not ‘wash your food now its clean’ type, I mean no junk! NONE. No synthetics, no processed foods, no excess salts, no wheat! Your body has to work too hard to process these and the body is just left depleted by empty calories!
– Become a grazer…like a cow. nibble nibble nibble. Not starvation mode throughout the day and then eating enough for 8 people at dinner time!
– Drink clear water! Your body is made up of 70% water, it makes sense that if we aren’t drinking enough then things start going wrong! Also on wake up, drink a glass of water with fresh lemon in. This will speed metabolism up and wake up the organs!
– Add wholegrains and pulses, like lentils and chickpeas! The body has to work harder to break down wholegrains, so more energy is used!
– Eat nuts, avo’s, seeds, coconut oil!!! You will feel fuller and you are fueling your body with nutrient dense foods so a little goes a very long way!
– Don’t DRINK your meals! Its okay to have a smoothie here and there but drinking meals for days on end with meal replacements actually takes away the stomach and GI tract’s main job, digestion! So less work for the body to do, less calories to burn! Capish?
– DITCH alcohol..it may speed everything up, like speech, awesome dance moves and social abilities but it just slows everything else down. When your body has a drink to break down, it pushes the food to the back of the queue and the alcohol takes precedence. So digestion goes on a go slow! NOT OK!
– SLEEP! sleep restores and regenerates! Too little or broken sleep dials the metabolism way down! Power nap where you can too!
– CHILLI’s, yip chilli’s…they singe your palate and throat but they rev up your metabolism! Yeehaw
– Add a teaspoon or two of apple cider to your day! IT speeds up metabolism and helps filter toxins, which also stunt the body!
– Get some sunshine! The body needs VIT D and you can really only get the best quality from some well spent time outdoors (not to mention the fresh air and de-stressing factor). Don’t reach lobster status, just a few minutes with arms and legs exposed! Or your booty, depending on the situation haha
– Finally, REDUCE YOUR RESPONSE TO STRESS! Note, I don’t say reduce stress, these days that isn’t as easy because a lot of stress is due to outside factors that are often out of your control. So learn to deal with the stress differently! Take on an exercise class, or a self defense class where it is legal to ‘beat’ other people. Stress immediately puts a brake on metabolism and a release of cortisol, which is known to pack fat around the middle.
There we go…implementing these tricks will definitely give your metabolism a big boost but the key is CONSISTENCY! You need to stick to it, commit and hold on like a piranha!
This is the only way your body will start to trust you again and realise that you are actually in this for the long haul! Slow steady progress and in a few months you can eat like a health conscious water buffalo! Stop punishing your body and yourself!