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What is Metabolism?

by Shaun Kober
September 28th 2020

In this Q & A session, I answer a listeners question on how extended periods of dieting can affect metabolism.

This one is pretty heavy on the science, and goes into the 11 systems of ... More

Yo yo what is up guys, welcome to today's episode of the live train perform podcast. I'm your host, Sean kobar. During today's episode, I'm going to be answering questions that have come in from my listeners and followers and if you want your questions answered, you can head over to my social media platforms and comment on the Q and A memes or send me a DM. My instagram is at coach underscore Kobe, K O B es. My facebook is performance functional training and my Youtube channel is also performance functional training, which I will be referring to during some of these episodes. If you leave me a five star rating and review on any of the podcast listening apps, you will receive precedents when it comes to answering these questions, let's get started. So today's first question comes in from somebody who will remain anonymous uh and that will become apparent in a moment, But they right. I've just listened to episode 17 and you talked about the length of dieting affecting the level of damage done to metabolism.

I've dieted on and off for years like most women and as scary as increasing calories is, it makes a lot of sense. I haven't been super restrictive for long, but I've had a huge amount of emotional stress over the last three years with family members dying others with terminal illnesses and a marriage where I was cheated on and had multiple miscarriages. That marriage ended about 16 months ago and I've been working on myself emotionally and mentally since during that stress, I got to the point, my periods were all messed up and at times I was so exhausted. I thought this must be what dying feels like. Anyway, the question I have is can all that emotional stress have the same effect on metabolism since I basically ran on sympathetic nervous system for so much of that time. All right now this is like an onion, there's many, many layers to this and I'm going to have to go back and give a little bit of context on some of the episodes that I've spoken about, certain things. Um so people have an understanding of what I'm talking about here so that I'm not repeating myself over and over again.

Now that's a good point when it comes to this podcast, I released these episodes in a particular order for a reason. And the first two weeks of the episodes that I released was 14 days and that was all about um goal setting, um progress, tracking, building, consistency, the power of habit, accountability, hierarchy of value, motivation, direction, effective, your environment, etcetera, etcetera. And then from there I went into a seven part miniseries on the nutritional pyramid of importance. I then followed that up with the Swiss eight miniseries, um which was 10 episodes covering the eight principles of Swiss Eight. And now I'm going through Q and A sessions as well as interviews and I also do reflection sessions as well as five minute fitness tips. So I release these episodes in a specific order for a specific reason. So, yes, if you are listening to this for the first time, you will get a lot of benefit from this one episode.

However, I do recommend going back and listening to the episodes in order because I'm essentially layering information over the top of information. And it is very important to have the fundamentals and the foundational information at hand so that we can start layering on top of that and building upon that solid foundation. The bigger the base, the higher the peak. So, the episode that was being referred to Before is episode 17, which is the third part to a seven part miniseries on the nutritional pyramid of importance. And in that episode, I go into energy balance and this is the second episode on energy balance. And what I talk about in this episode is how I talk one of my clients through a reverse diet period, where she had essentially been dieting for About six months time and she got results for about three months and then she hit a plateau and she didn't really know where to go. So, um I had to take her through a reverse diet period so that we could bump her metabolism up and get it firing well.

So that we could basically start targeting um weight loss again or particularly fat loss. Now that is a brief overview of what I spoke about in that episode. But what I also said in that episode is that if my client had have been dieting for a year and a half, then her metabolism would have slowed down because it's very adaptive, which I'll get into in a moment. Um and I would have had to take my time and go through that reverse diet process a little bit slower, so she didn't start putting on weight. And if you're dieting for long periods of time then you will cause some damage to metabolism. And an example of this is uh prisoners of war POWs who come out of concentration camps and things like that. You know, they are surviving on 500 calories a day and being worked to the bone and when they come out of those concentration camps, there's a lot of dietary issues and there's a lot of digestive issues when they start eating food again, because their body can't handle that amount of energy in their metabolism has slowed down so much to conserve energy too, essentially sustained life.

I'll dive into this in a little bit more detail further down the line, but I want to give a little bit more context on the episode as well, because I do talk about mindfulness and I do talk about the autonomic nervous system in episode 30, which is the Swiss eight miniseries on mindfulness. Now in this episode, I discussed the autonomic nervous system, which is essentially the balance between our sympathetic state, which is our stress state, which is also referred to as well as our fight or flight state and our parasympathetic state which is our rest recover, relax which is also referred to as rest and digest. Now balancing both of these two states, balancing the autonomic nervous system is homeostasis. And again I'll dive into all of this in a moment. But before we do that, I need to explain that there are 11 different systems of the body and this is all going to tie together as we go through today's episode.

So bear with me, it will all make sense as we go through this process. The reason that I need to go into detail on the different systems of the body and what they're responsible for and the autonomic nervous system, what that's responsible for is because all of the systems are integrated, not isolated. We do a very good job in certain parts of Western medicine of treating certain illnesses and diseases and um you know chronic issues and acute issues and things like that. But a lot of the time where simply looking at one particular area or one particular system. Now it's important to note that everything is connected. If there is too much sympathetic drive, then that's going to affect some of your systems which then have a flow on effect to other systems of the body. And again, I'll give some examples as we go through today's session but just think about the butterfly effect. If a butterfly flaps its wings, it's going to have a flow on effect throughout the entire organism of the body. And the organism of the body Is a collection of organisms that work together to create a larger organism.

So what I'll do now is go through the 11 distinct organ systems within the body. And it's important to note that some of these overlap and perform tasks in more than one system. So as I stated earlier, If you impact one system, it will also impact and have a flow on effect to the other systems. I won't go into too much detail of each one of the 11 systems, but I will go through them and give a brief description of what they're responsible for. So the integra mentally system is basically our skin and that's what protects underlying tissues. It provides sensation. It helps regulate body temperature and also synthesizes vitamin D. The skeletal system is basically our framework that provides an attachment for muscles, protects organs, stores calcium and phosphorus and produces blood cells. We then have our muscular system which moves our body and maintains our posture. Uh It also provides internal transport of fluids as well as generation of heat and movement.

The nervous system regulates and integrates our bodies functions via neurons. Our endocrine system regulates and integrates bodies functions via hormones. Um So basically nervous system is the chemical messenger and the endocrine system is our hormonal regulatory mechanism. Then we have our cardiovascular system which transports nutrients, respiratory gases waste and heat. It also transports immune cells and antibodies along with hormones. And it also regulates ph balance. Our lymphatic system returns tissue fluids to the bloodstream and protects against infection and disease. Our respiratory system exchanges respiratory gases with the environment digestive system is responsible for the physical and chemical breakdown of foods, which absorb, process and store these foods and raw materials. Then we have the urinary system which maintains constant internal environment through the expression of nitrogenous waste.

And then we have finally the reproductive system, which produces and secretes hormones, also produces and releases egg and sperm cells along with houses the embryo and the fetus and also produces milk to nourish the offspring. Now all of these systems work together to maintain body temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar levels and ph levels. And this is homeostasis, which is the optimal functioning of each of the individual systems in conjunction with every other system to maintain a stable internal environment to ensure the survival of the cell or the organism as a collective. Now, homeostasis relies on feedback mechanisms both through the internal environment as well as the external environment and when the systems become imbalanced through stress pain, infection or disease or low oxygen levels. Um and any of those other um components I spoke about before ph balance and hormone dis regulation blood sugar level.

Dis regulation et cetera. Then you'll start seeing signs of disorder and disease. Now, as I said earlier, I do go into a lot of detail on these components in some of my earlier episodes and I'll have these episodes linked in the show notes. But the ones that I'm referring to is episode number five which is subjective progress tracking tools which is essentially having a look at how these different systems work together and the signs and signals of any dis regulation that can show up in the hair, skin, nails, energy levels um libido your ability to sleep, train, recover et cetera. Then I also go a lot deeper in episode #19 which is one of the nutritional pyramid of importance episodes which goes into the effect and the impact of both micro nutrients are vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and what they do for the body and how they serve the organism behind the scenes along with water and its role in the body.

Now I'm just going to circle back to the hypothalamus for a moment because it is the key to maintaining homeostasis. Blood vessels throughout the body have receptors which monitor the pressure temperature, glucose and ph levels and send signals to the hypothalamus via the nervous system. And this makes adjustments throughout the body through the H. P. A. Axis which is the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and the adrenals when it needs to instigate change to bring about homeostasis. Now let's discuss the HP. A. Access for a moment because these feedback receptors within the body. Send back information to the hypothalamus which is a small region located near the base of the brain which is connected to the pituitary gland. Now the hypothalamus is responsible for and plays a crucial role in many important functions which include releasing hormones regulating body temperature, maintaining daily physiological cycles, controlling appetite and regulating emotional responses.

The hypothalamus then speaks to the pituitary gland, which is a part of your endocrine system. Now the endocrine system's main function is to secrete hormones into your bloodstream. And these hormones are the chemical messages that speak to other organs and glands and all of the cells in your body and in particular your thyroid, your reproductive organs and your adrenal glands. We have two adrenal glands which are located on the top of each of your kidneys which are part of the endocrine system which is a collection of glands that produce hormones and whilst your adrenal glands are responsible for numerous hormone related functions in your body. Any disorders that affect the adrenal glands can have a broad impact on your health. Now your adrenal glands are responsible for producing certain steroid hormones which include eldest Arone and cortisol which I'll touch on in a moment but they also regulate several other hormones including adrenaline and nor adrenaline.

We'll come back to this in a moment. Let's touch on Aldo cerone L. Doctorow is a hormone that helps keep your blood pressure in check by managing the balance of potassium and sodium in your body. And cortisol works in conjunction with adrenaline and nor adrenaline to help regulate your reaction to stress. Take this point in because I'm going to circle back to stress in a moment that is a part of homeostasis. So cortisol also helps regulate your metabolism, blood sugar levels and your blood pressure. Any abnormal signals that are sent to the adrenal gland can disrupt the amount of hormones that your pituitary gland tells your adrenal glands to produce. This can basically cause them to produce too little or too much hormones. And any hormone imbalances can result in a variety of symptoms and health problems. Now, any dysfunction with the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenals is known as H. P. A access dysfunction. It's also commonly known as adrenal fatigue and adrenal exhaustion and it's quite widespread through Western civilization.

And that is due to our lifestyles. Now. The reason being is that the HP. A. Access is a neuro endocrine based system that regulates the body's reaction to stress. What does that mean? The nervous system and the endocrine system are talking to each other to ensure that the body can respond immediately to stressful events and then return to a normal state. Being homeostasis just as quickly Now, when we experience stress, the brain communicates this feeling to the adrenal gland signaling to them to produce stress hormones and a stressful situation triggers a reaction in the hypothalamus which then continues through the pituitary gland and ends in the adrenal glands and the adrenals produce several hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline that play a key role in our fight or flight response to threatening situations or perceived threatening situations. And I've gone into detail on the previous podcast on the autonomic nervous system which is essentially the balance between our sympathetic state of fight or flight and a parasympathetic state of rest and digest.

So highly recommend going and listening to the mindfulness episode which I'll have linked in the show notes and I go into detail of the different physiological responses that occur in each one of those states. Now in the western world we we don't, our body doesn't understand the difference between a real threat and a perceived threat. So the fast paced world that we live in can illicit and does elicit the stress response a lot throughout the day. Now acute stress is necessary for short term survival line comes out of the jungle you create this physiological response and your body starts mobilizing energy and you fight off or run away from that threat when you get into a safe environment. Now your parasympathetic nervous system takes over and you rest digest and absorb assimilate um nutrients to push them to the systems that were just damage. Now in this world that we live in. We have constant stress. We wake up in the morning we grab our phone, we start our day being reactive to other people's shit rather than being proactive and focusing on our stuff, we're not well organized, were not well disciplined.

We have poor time management, which means we're running out the door, we're not eating good food. Um you know, we're standing in queues, were being in line, we've got all these bills to pay, they've got mortgages, we've got kids, we've got financial issues, work issues, et cetera, et cetera. Now, the evolutionary response of that stress response is necessary for survival. But in this modern world we live in with all of these other minor stresses that add up in our lives, that leads to chronic stress and chronic stress Has been linked to nine of the top 10 causes of all cause mortality. Now again, I'm not going to go too deep here because I have gone into this in a lot of detail, but to give a little bit of context for where I'm going with this stress is an important physiological response to a threat, a dangerous situation or an injury if I hurt my knee, then my body perceives that as stress and it mounts an inflammatory response and it starts pushing fluids and nutrients towards that injured knee so that I can increase blood flow and basically get my knee working well again.

Now the same thing happens with every other system of our body. If it is put under stress, then we're going to create an immune response and inflammation response and chronic information leads to a lot of health implications. So an example of this is if I don't get a good night's sleep, then my body hasn't recovered. It's still under stress. So then going and adding, you know, hard training session and poor nutrition throughout the day. It's not allowing my body to get the nutrients it requires to operate. And again, if you've been following this podcast for all, you'll understand what I'm talking about. But if this is the first episode that you've listened to, please go back and listen to the previous episodes where I go into this in a lot more detail. But I did want to point that out because it is important to understand that when we start talking about metabolism. So what is metabolism metabolism is the term that is used for the processes that take place to extract raw materials from the food and drink that we consume and the air that we breathe to convert it into usable energy that we require to function or store.

There are two processes involved in metabolism. One being cannibalism and the other being cannibalism. An embolism is the construction of complex molecules including proteins and lipids from simpler ones. And cannibalism is the chemical breakdown of complex substances like food into simpler ones which are nutrients whilst releasing energy. Now to put this simply anabolic is building cata bolic is breaking down now, it's important to understand that because this will make a lot more sense when we start diving into metabolism, which is what we're going to do now now I've been very science heavy in the episode so far but over the next five minutes or so I'm going to explain metabolism in as simpler terms as possible. So you guys can understand everything that affects metabolism And how to optimize it.

Now, the first point that I want to bring up is your metabolism is highly adaptive and this means that it is going to up regulate these systems all 11 systems I spoke about earlier in the episode or it's going to down regulate some of those systems or some components of those systems that I spoke about earlier. Now an example of this is if I'm in an anabolic state which simply means that I'm eating enough food in the form of calories or energy in the form of calories. I'm getting enough macronutrients being proteins, fats, carbohydrates, I'm getting my micro nutrients my vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients in the right ratios. Then my body goes cool. I've got enough energy to support all of these functions. These 11 systems that are operating behind the scenes. Any extra energy that's coming in, I'm going to start pushing that to reinforcing these systems, I'm going to start pushing that to building these systems. And if you're sending a signal through training that you're breaking down muscle and you want to build those muscles bigger stronger faster.

If you're in a healthy position and your body's in the anabolic state, it's going to start partitioning those nutrients into building and repairing muscle, right? But that's only going to happen if all of the other systems, the other 10 systems are being supported and their operating optimally, then the brain goes cool. We've got these extra nutrients coming in. Let's push out towards rebuilding the muscular system because that's been stressed out and it's been damaged. Let's reinforce that. Before I go into cannibalism. I want to explain that those 11 systems that I'm talking about Is your basal metabolic rate and for males and females, that number is going to be different. So for males were typically looking at 1800 to 2400 calories to support basal metabolic rate. For females, we're looking at somewhere between 1400 to 1800. And those numbers are just a an overview. A general guide to give a brief understanding of how much energy your body actually requires.

And I've spoken about this earlier. These are your coma calories. If you're in a coma for 24 hours, your body requires all of this energy to be able to support all of these functions that are going on behind the scenes. Now that's basal metabolic rate and then we have physical activity level on top of that. And then that's followed up by neat non exercise activity thermogenesis and again go back to energy balance part one, which I'll have linked in the show notes for further descriptions and explanations on these systems and how basal metabolic rate and energy balance works. Let's go into cannibalism next. Because this is something that I see quite often with female weight loss clients in particular is that they go on these crash course diets and they severely restrict their calories and increase their movement. Now that's creating a massive discrepancy with their energy balance. And yes, you need to be in an energy deficit or a calorie deficit to be able to target fat loss and weight loss.

Okay, but if that deficit is so large that now you're taking away from the body's ability to recover, you might be digging yourself into a hole. And again, this is because your body requires X amount of energy just to sustain itself. It doesn't care that you want to look good for your wedding or you want to look good in a bikini or board is on the beach in two months time. It simply wants to survive. And this is the role of metabolism and metabolism is an evolutionary thing. And it's something that we need to work with rather than against. Because you can't cheat biology. Your body requires X amount of energy to survive. So that anabolic state is a thrive state that allows your body to essentially repair and rebuild and reinforce all of those systems. But if you're in a cata bolic state, meaning that you're not getting enough energy in to support those systems, then that energy needs to come from somewhere and your body is going to start breaking down its own tissues and its own systems and start switching off some of these systems so that it can survive.

And this is why if you're under eating and under nourishing, then that's going to affect your energy levels. It'll affect your sleep, which will also affect your gut health, which will then affect your ability to break down, digest, absorb and assimilate these nutrients, which will then affect how much nutrients are getting through to reinforce these other systems. And, you know, that hole gets deeper and deeper and deeper and this is where you'll see females lose their menstrual cycle and sex drive. And the same thing will happen with males if they're under eating, they'll start losing their energy levels and their sex drive. And that is because their body is in a state of stress and it doesn't know when the next meal's coming in to support all of these functions to keep the organism alive. And it will essentially start down regulating all of those systems and it will adapt to how much you're eating. But it'll also think that it can't support itself. So it's not going to support the life of an offspring or that evolutionary response of being able to reproduce and then think about this if you are under stress and again, stress can be a real threat or a perceived threat.

Your body doesn't understand the difference, it still goes through the same physiological processes. But if you're dealing with stress and that stress is not dealt with, that becomes chronic stress which then affects all of those systems. Now when we eat food and we're in a calorie deficit, what's going to happen is your body is mounting an immune response. It's creating inflammation so that it can support itself and get back to homeostasis or baseline. And when that food comes in, your body starts prioritizing where it needs to go. So it's essentially robbing from peter to pay paul. And this is why you'll see people that are in a calorie deficit for long periods of time, They don't really go anywhere because their body will literally just start shutting down some of these systems. And one of the first ones to go is the reproductive system. So as I start winding up the episode, I just want to finish with a couple of points here before I go into the signs and symptoms of H. P. A. Dysfunction and that is that our lifestyle and our choices regarding our food, our sleep, our nutrition, our time management, stress management, all of these types of things have a massive impact on how the system the organism as a whole functions and how our metabolism adapts to whatever is going on in the external environment as well as the internal environment where either thriving or we're surviving and a healthy organism is an adaptable organism.

So if you want your body to change in a positive manner and you're working towards goals, then you need to be in a healthy state first because it's like trying to drive a car that has four flat tires, no engine oil, no brake fluid, no steering wheel fluid, timing belts, off wheels are misaligned, et cetera. If you try and put your foot on the accelerator with that car to try and go harder and faster to get to your destination quicker, then you're probably just gonna burn the engine out and you're not going to get there any quicker. So what we need to do is pump up the tires, give that car some engine oil and go through that process of making the car run well. So then when we put the foot on the accelerator now we start moving in the direction that we want to. And all of these systems are supported by Everything that we do in our life. And I've just finished going through the Swiss eight miniseries, which is a proactive mental health program designed to help people schedule in and structure the most important things in their life.

And that includes sleep, nutrition, time management, discipline, fitness, personal growth, mindfulness and minimalism. So go back and listen to those episodes and start squaring those things away and that will make a massive difference to your ability to manage stress. And then when you manage your stress then you're not robbing from peter to pay paul. And all of those nutrients that you have coming in can go and support all of those functions of the body. Now let's start winding up the episode with some signs and symptoms of H. P. A. Access dysfunction. So HP. A. Access dysfunction does not happen overnight and it can evolve over the course of several months or years. Hp to access this regulation can typically develop in three ways or three stages. Now the first stage is our wired but tired stage and this simply means that you've got high cortisol levels. And it's often characteristic with an over secretion of cortisol because you're seeing these threats and your body starts secreting cortisol as well as adrenaline.

Which means that basically your you've got high cortisol levels and as a result you may notice rapid energy fluctuations throughout the day and going between having too much energy to exhaustion basically. And it's a vicious cycle because you can't sleep at night and you wake up exhausted in the morning and you drink coffee throughout the day to keep you alert only to crash again a couple of hours later. The second stage of HB A dis regulation is low cortisol levels. And this is basically when the adrenals get burnt out, they're not producing enough cortisol. So you end up with low levels and the rapid energy fluctuations from stage one shift into more extreme exhaustion, followed by symptoms such as brain fog, weight gain hair loss, mainly in women and low libido in men due to cortisol steel, which is basically where your hormone production is directed toward cortisol and away from the sex steroid hormones such as testosterone. And these symptoms can vary from one person to another and they may keep evolving as the body systems are affected.

Now, if you get to the third stage, then this is a dangerous place to be and you need to seek medical help because this is basically where the brain continues to tell the adrenal glands to make cortisol because you're not managing your stress and it gets to a point where the adrenal glands are so overworked that they are no longer producing any cortisol at all. And cortisol plays a massive role in our physiological responses throughout the day. And some of the functions that cortisol is involved in is controlling blood sugar levels, regulating the metabolism, helping reduce inflammation and assisting with memory formulation. It's also important with our circadian rhythms. Now again, I'm not going to go too deep here because I could literally go down this rabbit hole for a long time and I've been banging on for long enough. So, I think I'll leave circadian rhythm for another podcast episode. But to recap this episode how long you've been dying for will directly impact your metabolism when we're dieting, we typically associate that with weight loss, which means we're in a cata bolic state.

Okay? And if you're in a catatonic state for extended periods of time, your body is simply going to start shutting down some of those processes that are responsible for maintaining homeostasis and homeostasis is the optimal functioning of each of the individual systems in conjunction with every other system to maintain a stable environment to ensure the survival of the cell. That's it for me today guys, hopefully enjoyed this episode, join me next week for another episode of the left transformed podcast piece.

What is Metabolism?
What is Metabolism?
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