I just finished reading Ultra-Metabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss.  It is one of 5 books I grabbed while on my first trip to our local library a couple weeks ago.

I will give you some of the awesome info you will find within the pages, parts that resonated with me, but I won’t share it all with you, as I strongly support reading on your own to glean what is best for you and your health and your life!

The book is broken into chapters to address several issues that impact our body’s metabolic system, an intricate complexity of hormones, molecules and cells.  There are quick “quizzes” at the beginning of each chapter to see if the health issue applies to the reader.  While you could choose not to read the chapter if you “pass” the quiz, I strongly recommend reading the entire book for the education and wealth of nutritional knowledge you gain.

Dr, Hyman wrote the book after 20 years of treating patients (and suffering from his own issues early on as a new doctor), asking questions, digging for answers, trying new approaches and partnering with a foremost nutritionist.

To begin, Dr, Hyman addresses the 7 myths most of us believe when trying to lose weight: eating less + exercising more (aka starvation); all calories are the same; you must eat fat-free; eliminate carbs; skip meals; eat & drink like Europeans but that’s where it stops; our government has our backs when it comes to dietary guidelines and recommendations.

One of my biggest takeaways (pp 16-17):

“The reason diets backfire almost all the time is because people restrict too much.  That is to say, they allow the number of calories they consume to drop below their resting metabolic rate.  This is the basic amount of energy or calories needed to run your metabolism for the day.

For the average person it is about 10 times your weight in pounds.  This is the bottom line for your body every day if you don’t get out of bed or expend any energy.

If you eat less than that amount, your body will instantly perceive danger and turn on the alarm system that protects you from starvation and slows your metabolism.  As a consequence, you go right into starvation mode and just start eating and eating once you inevitably stop the diet–the classic rebound weight gain.”

(Bold and italics added by me for emphasis)

It is important to eat a whole-food diet of protein, carbohydrates and fat.  Our bodies need nutrient-rich, antioxidant-dense, fiber-filled foods as fuel to keep our systems running top-notch.

And as important as what we eat is when we eat it!  Heard the saying, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”?  Start with the biggest meal to get your day jumpstarted, to break the fast from your sleep.  Eat 5 times a day: 3 meals and 2 snacks.  Don’t eat 2-3 hours before bedtime.  While at rest your body isn’t able to metabolize, thus storing as fat what you ate so late.

PLEASE don’t follow any advice that tells you to avoid all carbohydrates!  Carbohydrates are one of the three macro-nutrients necessary for our health.  Yes, it is vital to remove the refined carbs, like white bread, flour, sugar, pasta, etc., but you MUST eat complex carbs, like fruits, veggies and whole grains.

“Phytonutrients are healing plant chemicals, and they can be found only in certain types of carbohydrates.  The prefix phyto simply means “plant,” so phytonutrients are nutrients that are found specifically in plant food.  The only way you can acquire these important substances is to eat real, whole, unprocessed plant food — all plant foods contain carbohydrates.” (p.42)

The “new” way to look at our food intake is the Phytonutrient Index (how rich our food choices are in these healing plant foods) and the Glycemic Load (the response of our blood sugar to a meal).

“Eating meals that have a high glycemic load means that the combination of foods that you eat will cause all the carbohydrates in the meal to be absorbed very rapidly and raise your blood sugar just as rapidly.  On the other hand, a low-glycemic-load meal contains a combination of foods that either don’t have many carbs to begin with or whose carbs are absorbed slowly and don’t lead to rapidly rising and high blood sugar levels that promote obesity and aging.” (p. 46)

Low-glycemic-load meals help prevent insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes, obesity, spikes in cortisol & adrenaline, metabolic syndrome and a host of other health issues.

Examples of low-glycemic foods: vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, olive oil and whole grains.

I took a recipe from the book (p. 295) and adapted it:

All chopped & mixed...ready for the magic to happen

All chopped & mixed…ready for the magic to happen

Veggie-packed Chili

One can black beans, drained & rinsed

One can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Two 8 oz cans of tomato sauce

3-4 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped carrots

4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

2 cups low-sodium broth

3 T chili powder

1 T cumin

1 T red pepper flakes (omit if you don’t like any heat)

Sea salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in stock pot.  Simmer to desired consistency.  Stirring occasionally.

The final product, atop cooked quinoa!

The final product, atop cooked quinoa!

You could also add ground turkey, chicken, beef or pork to pack in even more protein!  If you like other beans (kidney, pinto, lima), add those.  Mix in what veggies you have on hand or you like best.  It’s all up to you!

Dr. Hyman discusses controlling our appetites by 1) eating whole foods that are fiber-rich, thus keeping us fuller, longer; 2) avoiding sugar; and 3) avoiding high fructose corn syrup at all costs.

He touches on how stress will make us fat (which involves too much cortisol entering our bloodstream) and how finding ways to actively relax, like meditation or deep breathing, do more than simply care for our minds.

He stresses the importance of regular exercise: 30 minutes a day, most days of the week (60 minutes even better)!  And exercise doesn’t have to be going to the gym, choose activities and sports you like.  Remember to also include yoga, meditation, Pilates and the like, as well as rest days when your body is signaling you (thru aches, pains, illness) that it needs some downtime to repair.  (“Overtraining”, a real condition, will work against you and take away the successes you worked so diligently toward.)

Be sure to incorporate both aerobic (cardio) and strength-training.  One of the best (and fastest) ways to accomplish your aerobic activity is High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT.  Short bursts of activity, followed by longer periods of active rest, will give you the most bang for your exercise buck by making you a fat-burning machine!  While increasing our muscle mass keeps us burning calories even after our workout is done!  Who doesn’t want all that?!

Other topics of concern are inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which can be helped with eating foods high in antioxidants (fruits & veggies!!!), exercise and stress-reduction.

Sense a common theme, yet?  What we eat, how we move and reducing stress (or our response to same) are the keys!!!

Thyroid issues are addressed; a personal one for me.  Our thyroid is THE biggie in our metabolism, so it is very important to keep it healthy.  Symptoms are vast and similar to other health concerns, which makes it easy to overlook.  Thyroid disorders are one of the most un- and under-diagnosed conditions.  We must be our best health advocate and request tests: TSH, free T3 and free T4, and TPO antibodies (to check for the auto-immune disorder, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis).

Detoxifying our bodies, especially with all of the chemicals in the air & water of this modern world, is necessary for a healthy liver.  Toxins wreak havoc with our hormones, causing our metabolism to go haywire, our livers to be fatty and our ability to lose weight a “losing battle”.  An interesting detox option is a sauna!  Sweating out the toxins, via sauna or steam bath, is one of the top ways (after minimizing our exposure) to release the toxins from our bodies!  I gotta hand it to the ancients, they were on the money with their bath houses and sweat lodges!!!

Dr. Hyman finishes the book with his Ultrametabolism Prescription, where food is the medicine!  Brilliant!!  Shopping lists, menus and recipes are provided, as are herbs, spices and various supplements.  Even quick grab-and-go meals haven’t been forgotten, for so many of us have busy lifestyles that keep us from the kitchen for breakfast, lunch and snacks.

Take from the prescription what suits your needs and your tastes.  When it comes to the foods & spices, be daring!  Explore new foods, thus other cultures!!  You never know what you have been missing by not sampling hummus, sprinkling flax into your smoothies or oats, using Moroccan spices on your chicken!

Now I can’t wait to read Dr. Hyman’s first book, Ultra-Prevention.

Live Inspired!!!

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2 Responses to Ultra-Metabolism

  1. Sandra says:

    Thank you for that summary. I now have to add this one to my reading list.
    I love how it all works together and ties in.

  2. Colette says:

    I’m looking forward to reading this book. Thanks for the tip!

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