When my life fell apart at the end of my low carb era I was a mess (as already established in previous article!). I had terrible anxiety, insomnia, was cold all the time, and my hair was falling out. I had no appetite to speak of so I had nothing to guide me. Matt Stone’s book informed me that dieting ruins our metabolisms, so in order to recover I would have to fix my metabolism. That was the first I had heard of that, but hey, I was up for anything that might make me better! I’d like to say it all made sense but after 3 years on a low carb diet and hardly any sleep not much about my life really made sense! Anyway, it turns out all the symptoms that I had are indicative of a low metabolism. Your energy metabolism is driven by thyroid hormones which will fluctuate according to caloric intake and external temperature. During starvation and semi-starvation the body naturally lowers thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones regulate body temperature; therefore one of the (many!) symptoms of low metabolism is feeling cold a lot of the time (just like I was!). For a more detailed description of thyroid hormones, how they function and a long list of symptoms, see Billy’s blog article ‘Thyroid Hormone’ at http://www.billycraig.co.uk/blog/thyroid-hormone.
Not being a ‘normal’ (whatever that is!) person, and having incoherent thoughts due to a bad diet and low metabolism, I didn’t think it through properly (again!), I just ploughed on in there! I upped my calories, and my carbs, vastly and immediately. The human body doesn’t really like big changes and will strive to maintain homeostasis. Also, the human body tends to need plenty of vitamins and minerals. So my plan to suddenly eat huge amounts of crap was always going to be a non-starter and looking back it’s hardly surprising I didn’t feel any better 9 months down the line, when my anxiety suddenly roared into action. I was just so focused on upping the calories to fix my metabolism that I hadn’t really stopped to think about it. Although in my defence, the human brain lacks fuel stores and requires a continuous supply of glucose. The fact that I starved it of carbs for over 3 years did nothing for my thought processes!!
I did manage to get my temps to rise over those 9 months though, even though I wasn’t feeling great and still had no energy. They were higher in the mornings than they had been (36.7 °C) and I could get them to 37 °C in the daytime, so why wasn’t I feeling better? Well, it turns out that I should have been testing my pulse too. When your body is running on stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol etc.) then they can drive your temperature up and that’s not a good thing! When I eventually started taking my pulse (just before I saw Billy) it ranged from 96 to 104 beats/minute. Hmmm, rather high! Healthy individuals have been found to have a pulse of around 85 beats/minute. My morning temperature of 36.7 °C was just higher because my body was getting into a stressful state overnight and then just generally a stressful state overall. Your body requires more vitamins and minerals as your metabolism rises. I was trying to go about it all backwards! I had the calories in place but not the vitamins and minerals. I had been living off McDonald’s meals and plenty of sugary sweets to try and get the calories high – not the best idea in the world!
So, if you feel that your diet might not be the best, or your metabolism might be a bit slow, what can you do about it? Checking that you are actually eating enough calories is a good place to start. There are formulas that allow you to enter your details in order to calculate the amount you should be eating, such as http://www.health-calc.com/diet/energy-expenditure-advanced. Obviously it won’t be exact so just use it as a rough starting point. We seem to have a general disconnect between the amount of calories we think we should eat and the amount of calories our bodies actually need. This is probably due to so much dietary advice recommending eating less to lose weight, even silly amounts, such as 1000 or 1200 calories per day. I would imagine it’s very difficult for anybody to actually thrive on that low amount of calories (although they will obviously survive, surviving and thriving are very different things!)
Check your temperature and pulse throughout the day, before and after meals. You want your temperature to go up following meals, not down. If you find your temperature going down after food then you probably had a false temperature in the first place. If your temperature is lower than 36.7 °C for several of your readings then you probably have a low metabolism. Check your symptoms with the list of symptoms in Billy’s article. Though there are many, many symptoms connected with a low metabolism these are some of the more obvious ones.
If you decide to eat a bit more or change your diet around a bit then you can obviously look for signs that things are improving, i.e. getting a nice warmth in your body from eating a good meal. My hands and feet always go nice and warm after eating potatoes!! My sleep is now much better than it ever has been, my anxiety is gone, my hair is thickening up and is nice and shiny, and my skin is much less dry. It’s amazing how many ailments/problems can be sorted out by sorting out your metabolism, yet not really amazing at the same time! If our metabolism is working as it is supposed to, and our body temperature is a normal 37 °C, then it makes sense that we would feel ‘normal’ or better and we would have much more energy.
Try to stay in tune with your body. It will send signals to tell you what it needs. Often a craving for sweet things is just a sign that your body needs more calories (not that you are addicted to sugar! Lol!) Stay relaxed about it all – often easier said than done when we are entrenched in ideas about ‘healthy eating’. Remember stress is your metabolism’s worst enemy! Try to enjoy a variety of foods. If you don’t like brussel sprouts then don’t blooming well eat them! Eating should be an enjoyable experience. Many of us forget that whilst on a mission to eat ‘healthily’. Chill out and don’t make any huge sweeping changes!!
I hope, once again, that you have enjoyed my ramblings! Please remember that they are exactly that, my ramblings, my thoughts from everything I have researched/learnt since going through my dietary hell!! If you have any comments or stories to share please pop them in the comments below. I always love to hear from you. As always, please check in with how you feel and what you think about things. This is just me ‘thinking out loud’. Take care x