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Unpacking Metabolism

Jul 28, 2022

Unpacking metabolism is a topic that is a common thread for so many of us whether we are dealing with fatigue, weight issues, digestive issues, or even hormonal issues. It is incredible how much we can have different symptoms across the board but metabolism is still at the core of the problem. Many people misunderstand the word metabolism because they think that it’s only related to weight, how much belly fat they have, what their fat mass is, or their BMI. But the truth is that the concept of metabolism and metabolic health is so much deeper and so much broader than just weight. We can think of metabolism as a combination of all the biochemical processes that are occurring in the body. What we are talking about here is hormones. So these hormone combinations come together in the body and work to either create metabolic chaos or metabolic health. A lot of the time when our metabolism is off, we can feel like we’re going crazy. We feel like nothing is changing or getting better. Metabolic health can be difficult to obtain, but holds the key to our quality of life. 

What Do Hormones Have To Do With It?

So when we think about some of those biochemical processes that are combined to create metabolic health, what is being looked for is how insulin is being controlled and produced. We’re also thinking about thyroid function, sex hormones, hunger hormones (ghrelin and leptin), and growth hormones. So all of our hormones are coming together to either create a level of synthesis or metabolic chaos. 

Give Me Speed

While the thyroid is an organ, it is responsible for the speed of our metabolism. It’s responsible for how we’re processing insulin, so it is an anchor for metabolism. We also know that the thyroid is dependent on how our sex hormones are balancing the adrenal hormones. Insulin resistance is when the cells of the body become numb to insulin. Insulin helps the body bring our blood sugar levels down. And when our body is numb to it, our blood sugar can go all over the place. When our body becomes numb to insulin the thyroid stops functioning appropriately, leading to a greater decline in our metabolic health. 

Like I said earlier, metabolism is so much more than about belly fat. It has so much more to do with the combination of hormonal synthesis and biochemical processes in the body that make metabolism and metabolic health possible. Metabolism has a downstream effect in regards to our health. We take in fuel and the fuel is broken down and energy is created. When metabolism is working properly we have feelings of vitality and a better quality of life. These feelings will show up as going to the bathroom regularly, and losing weight or keeping a stable weight. 

Exercise Smarter, Not Harder

Another important element to metabolism that gets overlooked is exercise. When we practice the right type of exercise for the body we are able to aid in better metabolism. The popular philosophy of eating less and working out more works great for the male body, but it doesn’t work for women. This idea comes from conventional medicine which is based on men’s health. For this reason, we as women need to make sure that we’re looking at the finer details or looking at the more nuanced parts of what makes up women’s health. There are so many complexities to being a woman that plays out in every aspect of our health. And it’s not that men aren’t complex, but we’re complex in a different way. We are so much more driven by our hormonal balances, and imbalances, that it plays a bigger role in our metabolic health over time. Metabolism determines what our health is going to be in the future, as well as determining how we feel day to day. It also plays a role in how we’re going to age over the next several decades, and what types of chronic diseases we may develop. Over time our tendency towards pre-diabetes or diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even cancer has everything to do with our metabolic health.

How we exercise has a big impact on whether we have metabolic health or metabolic chaos. So when we think about what we need to do as women to really make friends with exercise that works for us, we need to hone into what speaks to, and fuels, our energy levels. And if we’re pushing exercise because we think we have to do it, but then feel fatigued – this is a sign that this isn’t the right exercise for us. Keep in mind that not all exercise is created equally. We need to find an exercise that is strengthening and muscle building all while adding to the breaking down of fat stores. We as a culture have put so much emphasis on fat being a problem, but we haven’t put nearly enough emphasis on muscle deficiency. Muscle is actually what uses up energy or fuel appropriately. So if we don’t have muscle or muscle to feed, we have a recipe for disaster for our metabolic health. Dr. Gabrielle Lyon talks a lot about muscle health and how if we focus early on to be strong rather than to be skinny then we would have way less metabolic disease in our culture. We know if someone is skinny, overweight, or obese that it has nothing to do with their metabolic health. A skinny person can have horrible metabolic health. After working with women for years of all different shapes and sizes I have learned that weight does not equal your metabolic health. It is so much more to do with how much balance and strength the body has and how the body is actually able to turn that fuel into the spark that is metabolic health.

Just like women, metabolism has so many nuances that make it unique. And when we can tap into metabolic health through the right diet and exercise for our individual body, a spark is lit. If you are interested in learning how to light the spark of metabolic health please reach out to us at Radiate Wellness and schedule a Strategy Session with one of our team members at https://calendly.com/radiatewellness/15min. Together, we can help you figure out the right combination to achieve metabolic health. 


Hi, I’m Frankie
Becoming a Functional Nutritionist was born out of my love of working in women’s health and my own health crisis that hit in 2011. It was then that I realized that the body cannot be taken for granted. With two cancer scares in one year, I decided to take my health into my own hands, guided by the intelligence of functional medicine. As a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner, I use data and mindfulness techniques to motivate change. My client relationships are filled with loving connections and precise planning.

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