Nutrition Talk at Scenic Cycle – Part 2 Metabolism

This extract “Part 2  Metabolism” was taken from Claire’s talk about Nutrition for Weight Loss and Healthy Living at Scenic Cycle on Monday 24th November, 2014.

For more information or a copy of the full transcript please contact Claire at

The point I want to get across to you tonight is that living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be difficult. There are so many things you can do in your daily life to make sure that you are keeping your body as healthy as it can be! So I will share with you some of the advice I give my patients so YOU can create some lasting habits! But before I get into these habits I want to run through some of the “conflicts’ which hinder us from being healthy and losing weight, because its not as simple as exercising more and eating less.

Our bodies are very complex. Each one of us is made up of billions of cells which affect our health and wellbeing. So what I have found is that some detective work can be helpful to get to the root cause of stubborn weight, or illnesses that just wont go away.

I don’t understand why I’m not losing weight? I eat well and exercise every day

 This is something I hear often. And in my experience there are two reasons why this person isn’t losing weight:

  1. They are not doing what they’re saying. They might eat well 5 days a week, but then binge drink on the weekend, eat pizza, ice-cream, and chocolate and think that because they are exercising they can justify these choices. OR
  1. There is an underlying problem, like a behavioural issue, metabolic disorder, or environmental disturbance.

So to overcome this problem I start to look into the following three areas:

  1. Behaviour
  2. Metabolism
  3. Environment

And this is what I am going to spend time on tonight to help you get a better understanding of what good health should look like, and why you might not be there yet.


Part 2 Metabolism

  • Genetics:

For many of us our genetics will determine our build and metabolic health. This can be a good or a bad thing if you are trying to lose weight. Your parents may have weight issues due to an underlying metabolic problem (which can be treated), in which case you may also have an underlying undiagnosed (and treatable) condition.

  • Insulin resistance:

Please take note: This is probably one of the most common causes of weight-gain I see. If your body is insulin resistant (also known as pre diabetic, or metabolic syndrome) you are not burning fuel the way you should and instead you are storing it as fat.

Insulin is needed to digest carbohydrates. It is secreted from the pancreas to remove glucose from your food and burn it for energy. Every time we eat these foods our body tries to metabolise them by secreting hormones like insulin. And over time our body builds up a resistance to the efficacy of the hormone, creating an excess of insulin circulating around our blood stream, causing us to feel fatigued, bloated, crave sugar, and continue to put on weight- regardless of how much exercise we do.

How do you manage it? Firstly you need to see your doctor for blood sugar testing, and then you need to move onto a low carbohydrate, un-processed diet (which I will talk about later). Once your insulin levels start to regulate your body will be able to continue to burn carbohydrates for energy, and your body will start losing fat mass.

  • Adrenal fatigue:

Our adrenal glands are very important in our body – they help our body adapt to stress. Our modern lifestyles are lending our bodies to excess cortisol production. The two biggest contributions excess cortisol has on your body is suppression of your immune system, and fatigue. So obviously lifestyle changes need to be made to allow these hormones to balance out. But herbs like Withania and Siberian ginseng have very strong regulating effects and can be helpful to rebalance cortisol.

  • Hormonal imbalances (like PCOS):

1 in 4 Australian women have poly cystic ovarian syndrome! It often goes hand in hand with insulin problems, and sometimes thyroid imbalances too. The biggest problem with this condition is that it affects your fertility big time! Follicles on you ovaries develop into cysts and corrupt your normal sex hormone production. So instead of having healthy levels of oestrogen and progesterone (which are needed for you to ovulate) your body converts many of these hormones into useless biomarkers causing many symptoms: low libido, weight gain, facial hair, excessive hair growth on the body, acne (on face and or back), deepening of the voice, and sadly infertility.

The good news is it can almost completely be managed by diet, exercise, and in some cases herbal medicine. Again blood tests need to be done by the GP to identify the levels of these hormones, and then a suitable treatment plan can be created. The most important dietary measure is NO SUGAR. Sugar will literally feed the cysts.

  • Liver health:

Your liver is your primary metabolic organ. This means every time you eat, and drink, your liver needs to work out what to do with those digested substances. The liver works very hard at combining toxins with metabolites to excrete them via the urine and stools.

So how do we abuse our liver? Drugs (prescription and recreational), diet (high sugar, high trans fats, low fibre, excess caffeine), dehydration, and the most obvious one is excess alcohol.

Have 3-4 alcohol free nights per week, and then limit your intake in social gatherings. Your weight management will become for you to achieve results, your fertility levels will improve, and your overall health and well being will improve (better sleep, more energy, clearer skin, better concentration etc.)

  • Dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance):

Another really interesting topic which science is spending a lot more time and money researching currently. Your bacteria in your digestive system have a HUGE effect on your health and wellbeing. An imbalance of good/bad bacteria can cause you to have a whole list of digestive problems: diarrhea, constipation, reflux, indigestion, flatulence, burping, bloating, cramping, and discomfort. And in some cases cause you to continuously put on weight, regardless of your food intake or exercise output.

The things to work on here to keep your bacteria in balance are:

  • Eating fermented foods (sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, pickled vegetables).
  • Increase your fibre intake to 50g per day. Nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, chia seeds, linseed almond sunflower meal.
  • Drink Plenty of water (2 litres per day, and 0.5 litre for every hour exercise on top of that)
  • Cut sugar out of the diet as best as possible (confectionary, ice-cream, breads, cakes, biscuits etc.


Click here to read Part 3 – Environment & Nutritional Guidelines for Weight Management