Metabolic Health Part 1

Did you know that many scientists now consider “calories in, calories out” to be an outdated model[1]?

The laws of thermodynamics didn’t change overnight, but this old school view of metabolism leaves out a lot of important details.

How Your Metabolism Really Works

Here’s why “eat less and move more” often doesn’t work. When people are overweight or obese, their metabolism (calorie burn rate) can actually decrease when they cut calories[2].

In other words, if you subtract 500-1000 calories from your daily diet, your body may slow your metabolism, which puts you in less of a calorie deficit than you think[2].

Additionally, when you exercise, the extra calories you burn don’t necessarily make up for the foods you eat during the day. Most people burn around 300-600 calories with an hour of exercise, which isn’t even an entire meal.

Intense or excessive activity may also increase your hunger levels and cause you to eat more than you would otherwise, especially for women[3].

Overall, studies show that switching from an unhealthy diet to a healthy diet may not work out as planned, and people may give up then regain or gain extra weight (often called the rebound effect)[4].

Faulty Hormones, Faulty Metabolism

I’m not saying to blame your hormones 100%, but very often, people with metabolic issues have an underlying hormonal problem:

  • Insulin resistance is associated with an inability to burn fat effectively[5]
  • Hunger hormones and reward neurotransmitters result in food addiction[6]
  • Low thyroid hormones, or thyroid resistance, slows the metabolism[7]
  • Cortisol may be high or low, which relates to stress management issues and lack of energy[8]

We’ll get into some solutions over the next two weeks. Fortunately most of these hormonal issues don’t require medical treatment.

For now, I just want you to know that it’s not strictly a lack of willpower, and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself!

Beyond Calories and Willpower

As we’ve covered in today’s newsletter, evidence suggests counting calories and closely monitoring activity levels simply doesn’t work for many people long-term[9].

While you can force your body to shed a few pounds that way, most people need to focus on behavioral change.

But effective change begins with knowledge, and I want you to understand that fixing your metabolism is NOT necessarily about counting calories or becoming an exercise junkie.

Stay tuned next week for practical tips on how to increase your energy levels AND maintain a healthy weight!


The Science