If you’ve ever wondered why your strict diet and exercise routine might not be giving you the results you’re looking for, it might have something to do with your metabolism. In the simplest terms, metabolism is the process wherein our body converts food and drink into energy. And while most people know that a slower metabolism eases weight gain and burdens weight loss, it can also make you more susceptible to things like heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and diabetes. The good news is metabolism can be regulated by lifestyle and diet choices. Well + Good recently spoke to Always Hungry? author David Ludwig to find out how.
The most important thing you can do is avoid processed food. Ludwig points out that processed food spikes insulin, which is the primary hormone when it comes to the regulation of your metabolism. “This sets the stage for both overeating and harming the metabolism,” he explains. “The high insulin levels keep fat locked away in storage sites,” he says, adding that it makes fat harder to burn.
Instead of eating processed food, Dr. Ludwig suggests eating more fat, because as he points out, “fat has virtually no effect on insulin levels.” In fact, Dr. Ludwig recommends making fat half of your daily diet while the other half should comprise protein and carbs. “This makes sure the insulin levels don’t rise very much and are balanced by the other hormones,” he adds. “And that supports metabolism long-term.”
Finally, Ludwig believes you should only eat when you’re really hungry. “Hunger is a sign your body needs calories and something to keep your metabolism going. You should never go hungry,” he says. That’s because when you’re hungry, the brain goes into what’s called starvation mode, something that ups your insulin levels. Despite this evidence, he doesn’t suggest eliminating snacking from your daily routine entirely. “Ignoring hunger, cutting back on calories, and starving yourself doesn’t work over the long term.”
What are your tried-and-true tips for losing weight?