Every single bite of food we put into our mouths tells our body a message. Certain foods relay messages that keep our body healthy, keep our hormones balanced, keep our energy high and our metabolism fast. Other foods tell the body to slow down, spin our hormones out of whack, tell our body to store body fat and even send
inflammatory messengers throughout the body.
In order to avoid "food messages" that direct our body towards inflammation, fat storage and disease, certain foods need to be eliminated or at least significantly reduced.
Here are my Top 3 Foods to Ditch for a Faster Metabolism and Healthier Body:
1. Sugar: By now, most of us know that sugar is one of the WORST things we can put into our bodies. Unfortunately, we wrongfully demonized dietary fat and cholesterol for so long and, in the process, more and more sugar has been entering the Standard American Diet to the extreme detriment of our health and wellbeing.
Sugar, and especially processed sugar, can (1) destroy the collagen and elastin in our skin and joints, leading to damaged, saggy, wrinkly skin, and inflamed, sore, tight joints (2) spikes insulin levels which puts our body into "fat storage mode" and imbalances our hormones which can lead to cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease, among other inflammatory conditions (3) damages our liver which increases inflammation and contributes to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated triglycerides and increases our risk of heart disease, (4) can damage brain cells which predisposes us to cognitive decline.
2. Gluten: Gluten's damage occurs at least two different ways: through inflaming your gut and because it usually drives a high glucose response. Gluten damages out gut by increasing the production of a molecule in the body called zonulin. When zonulin levels are elevated (after we eat gluten), the zonulin attacks the connective tissue in our small
intestine which leaks to leaky gut and inflammation. Eventually, this inflammation can become systemic and predispose us to autoimmune conditions and other inflammatory diseases.
Because gluten is a grain, it will break down into sugar in our body. When we consume gluten, especially in processed foods, we are likely ingesting a high amount of sugar as well, which will lead to the same damage in our body that eating sugar causes (see above).
3. Processed vegetable oils: Vegetable oils were introduced into our diet as a "heart healthy" way to consume fat. If it comes from a vegetable, it MUST be healthy, right? Wrong. The issue with vegetable oil isn't so much the oil itself as it is how we produce vegetable oil as well as the amount of it currently found in the Standard American Diet.
First, I want you to think about how simple it is to make butter. We simply separate the cream from the milk and then churn it or even just shake it in a jar. The process of churning or shaking is all that is needed to turn cream into butter. Pretty simple, right?
Now, let's look at how we make vegetable oil. Let's use the example of my least favorite vegetable oil: soybean oil.
First, find some soybeans. Ever eaten edamame? Not really a high fat food so where does the oil come from? Step one: heat the soybean to a very high temperature which actually damages the fat and makes it inflammatory. Step two: use a chemical to separate out the small amounts of oil from the remainder of the soybean. Step three: heat it again (oh no!). Step four: treat the oil with more chemicals to make the color
and smell of the oil palatable.
This is a VERY unnatural process which damages the fat and also adds harmful chemicals to the process.
In addition to the processing of vegetable oil, the other damaging impact is the fact that it is made up of mostly omega 6 fatty acids. Now, don't get me wrong, we all need omega 6 fatty acids. The problem is that we do not eat omega 6 fatty acids in the correct balance with omega 3 fatty acids. We should be consuming them in about a 1:1 ratio or a 2:1 ratio.
If I were to test the average American's blood for this ratio, I will most likely see ratios of 20:1 or even 40:1. Yikes!
This makes sense because omega 6 fatty acids are found in processed foods and omega 3 fatty acids are found in salmon and sardines. Compare the amount of processed food we eat on a daily basis to the amount of sardines we eat and you can easily see why we are consuming way more omega 6 fatty acids. The further away we get from the 1:1 ratio or the 2:1 ratio, the more inflammatory these omega 6's become in the body.
2 Foods to Add for a Faster Metabolism
1. Water: Ok, so it's not really a food. But, my experience in clinical nutrition has shown me that most people are slightly dehydrated all day long. Dehydration is one of the body's signals to go into "conservation mode." Think about it, in evolutionary terms, a drought always preceded periods of food scarcity. Our DNA remembers this and reacts to dehydration in the same way it would react to famine--by conserving
resources (namely body fat) to prepare food months or years of reduced food intake.
To avoid this, stay hydrated throughout the day. Start your day off with a cup of water. And sip on water throughout the day. We do not get the same hydration benefit from chugging water once or twice per day as we do from taking small sips all day long. A good rule of thumb to start with is drinking 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water per day.
2. Fat: Dietary fat gives the body the message of "here's some very clean and efficient fuel." The beauty of dietary fat is that it, when consumed by itself, does not cause an insulin response.
One of my favorite dietary strategies to boost the metabolism, burn body fat and reduce inflammation is to consume one meal per day that is only pure fat such as Bulletproof coffee as breakfast (which is coffee that contains 1-2 T of pure fat such as grassfed butter, coconut oil or MCT oil). This could also be green tea with a teaspoon of coconut oil in it along with an avocado for lunch. These types of meals are very satisfying both to our tastebuds and to our belly as fat signals the brain that we have
lots of good nutrients and fuel coming in.
When we consume pure fat, we do not need to eat a ton of it to feel satisfied either since 1-2 T of high quality fats provide lots of fuel without a lot of calories. Fat also "burns clean," meaning that it doesn't produce reactive oxygen species in the body the same way that burning sugar does. So fat consumption = reduced inflammation.
The combination of reduced inflammation, reduced calories and plenty of clean fuel sets the stage for a metabolism that fires on all cylinders to burn more fat throughout the day.