I Can’t Eat Like I Did in My 20s
In a nation with easy access to excessive food products, the question of why one can’t eat like (s)he did during youth has never been more prevalent.
Before we dive in though, think of this…
Have you taken your car to the garage lately? Perhaps for an oil change, brake check or some new tires? Better yet, have you purchased a NEW (or new to you) vehicle recently? The reason I ask truly has little to do with your car but more to do with the maintenance of something you might rely on regularly. Most of you use your car to take the kids to the school, drive to work, go to grab lunch, go pick up the kids, rush around for errands and other things before you finally drive it home to park it for the day. And guess what? You (and your car) do it again the next day…and the next…and next…and so on. The point I am arriving at here is that like your car, your body acquires “mileage” year after year and thus needs to be maintenanced and perhaps treated more delicately as it ages.
Considering the similarities of your car and body, let’s dive a bit deeper…
Metabolism is a chemical process that occurs within your body in order to maintain life. More specially, your metabolism is your body’s breakdown of foods and other substances into energy (stored or used). Undoubtedly, there are so many reasons why what we did in our youth simply won’t cut it today, but I challenge you to consider the following:
Beginning with the obvious…
During adolescence and even into early adulthood your body is going through developmental changes and growth. Upon adulthood, the body is shifting and other changes begin to occur. Typically the first signs of aging come with a few grey hairs, wrinkle, age spots or even a few extra pounds around the midsection. Some of you may experience aging as a feeling in the body, often in the form of aches, pains and stiffness. Others of you may notice health related issues creeping in like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insulin sensitivity, hormonal shifts and so on. No matter your first sign of the ongoing aging process, your body, like your car is gaining more “mileage” year after year and may need a bit more maintenance than initially.
Were you an active kid or teen? Aging alongside lifestyle shifts and other various changes can cause a decrease in regular physical activity and muscle mass of your body. But keep in mind that the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism. In fact, a pound of muscle has been shown to burn 7-10 calories per pound a day, in comparison to one pound of fat burning about 2 calories daily. That means muscle can burn about 3x as many calories as fat at rest. So make sure you make time for a regular cardiovascular exercise regimen in addition to strength training 2-3x a week. This is a sure way to enhance your body’s burn power naturally.
Raise your hand if this is a common word in your vocabulary! When you are stressed, cortisol levels rise. If your levels remain elevated long-term, you may notice a few health problems creep in like a decreased immune response, insufficient blood glucose levels, abnormal thyroid function and unusual cognitive function. All of these symptoms can lead to a decline in your metabolism. Try managing your stress by talking to a friend, counseling, journaling, meditating, relaxing, breathing techniques or simply take a much needed vacation.
Have you ever heard, “what you put in is what you get out”? Well, it’s TRUE! Skipping meals, especially breakfast, is like a sucker punch to your metabolism. Though excessive cortisol can damage the metabolism, just the right amount at its highest levels (in the morning) can help torch those calories and ensure you have energy to start your day. Definitely eat your breakfast (and other meals) and aim to maintain a healthy balanced diet within your daily caloric intake. However, if you are eating regularly and still find your energy levels a bit low, it might be time to consider talking with your doctor. Some healthcare professionals and nutritionists recommend the occasional cleanse or intermittent fasting to help the body reset your body’s digestive tract. With the right diet, your metabolism will function optimally.
Recall a night that you tossed and turned but had to go work all day the next day (for some of you, this may be more common than desired). How did you feel throughout the day? Sluggish? Groggy? Grouchy? Tired? Hungry? Well, Cortisol comes into play yet again when your body does not get enough sleep. As little as two hours less sleep can increase your body’s cortisol levels by about a half of its normal production. This will not only affect your metabolism the day after your poor night’s sleep, but you may feel even hungrier than normal. This is because your body’s hunger hormones, like ghrelin and leptin, are begging you to get calories throughout the day to maintain sufficient energy levels. So, practice a normal bedtime and wake times daily along with investing in a good mattress and pillow to make getting some shut eye a little less cumbersome.
There are so many changes you sustain in life alongside your body. But if you keep your oil changed, replace the tires within a timely manner and protect its outer shell, you might just find your younger self inside! VROOM!!!
– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC