Whenever I start working with my clients I always focus on getting the basics dialled in first – eating enough and nourishing the body, managing stress and optimising sleep. Then we look at potentially adding in some therapeutic supplementation, and further down the line in our journey together, we can also look at some functional testing to delve deeper into the root cause of any remaining unresolved issue.
I am so lucky to be able to access and offer my clients a lot of fantastic functional tests: hormonal panels, stool testing, SIBO breath tests etc. These can really identify what could be causing a chronic issue which may not have completely been resolved with diet, and can give us an idea of the correct protocol to follow.
Today, however, I want to talk about one test which can be carried out at home on a regular basis which gives us a great indication of what is going on with our own metabolism, the key to optimal health.
First of all – what is our metabolism?
The definition of metabolism is ‘the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life’ More simply said, it is the chemical process which turns our food into energy. The higher our metabolism, the easier it is to maintain our weight, but also has other health benefits like increased energy, better immunity, stable moods, healthy libido and optimal sleep.
What are signs of a healthy metabolism?
- Steady energy levels throughout the day
- Warm hands and feet
- Regular daily bowel movements
- Healthy libido and fertility
- Pain-free periods and no PMS
- Sleeping through the night
- Stable and happy moods
- Being able to maintain one’s weight easily, without dieting and exercise
Metabolic rate can be divided into:
- Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR) – the minimum metabolic rate ( i.e. calorie expenditure) needed to keep your vital organs (lungs, heart, brain) functioning when asleep.
- Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) – the minimum metabolic rate needed to keep you alive when asleep or at rest. This accounts for 70% of the calories we burn.
Oftentimes I see clients who are stressed, toxic, overexercising or simply not eating enough calories to even maintain their resting metabolic rate. This has a profound effect on the whole body, which will respond to this lack of lack of calories by slowing everything down to conserve energy, resulting in them feeling cold all the time, urinating constantly throughout the day, digestive issues such as constipation/ gas/ bloating, hair loss, interrupted sleep, hormonal imbalances, low energy or weight gain.
One of the things I have started asking my clients to track their temperature and pulse. This can be done very easily at home and can be a great way to assess your current metabolic function and see if it needs some support.
Body temperature and thyroid function
Have you ever thought about why children seem to always run hot and it’s a constant struggle trying to get them to layer up in the winter, whilst as we get older we tend to feel colder even when we’re bundled up? Our body temperature tells us a lot about our metabolic and thyroid health. In fact, before we had serum lab testing for thyroid function, Broda Barnes (an American physician and professor of medicine who studied thyroid dysfunction in the 1970’s) used the morning waking temperature as an indicator of thyroid function. He also argued that hypothyroidism was responsible for many of the health issues he was seeing in patients at the time. And as one of the thyroid’s main functions is to regulate hormones which control our metabolism, it makes perfect physiological sense that a higher body temperature will indicate not only better thyroid function but also a better functioning metabolism.
Ideally your waking body temperature should not be lower than 36.4C and should increase after eating (a sign that your metabolism is revved up and blood sugar is stable) and throughout the day. It normally peaks to around 37C around 1-3pm and slowly reduces again before bed.
How to take your basal body temperature
- You will need a thermometer – a basal temperature thermometer is best, but any digital thermometer will do.
- Keep your thermometer on your bedside table.
- Upon waking, before getting out of bed or doing any major movements, reach for your thermometer and place it under the tongue.
- Keep under the tongue for a minute or so, then take your temperature
- Record this temperature for 3 days in a row to see what your average is.
- Measure your temperature again throughout the day (see below).
Please note that certain factors can affect your temperature reading such as:
- Interrupted sleep – i.e. if taking your temperature before 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
- Alcohol consumption the night before.
- Where you are in your menstrual cycle (your temperature will rise by about 0.5C after ovulation until menstruation.
- If you have a temperature.
Your pulse rate and metabolism
Despite popular belief, a low resting pulse rate is not a sign of optimal health. It may be a sign of physical fitness (a lot of athletes have very low pulse rates), but fitness does not necessarily equate health. Exercise is a stress (albeit a good one if done correctly) and by exposing our body to chronic stress, our bodies become more efficient in surviving in this stress state and using up less energy. But this is not necessarily ideal. In fact, many fitness enthusiasts or athletes, despite being lean and fit, will still suffer from metabolic issues such as disturbed sleep, low body temperature, fertility issues and low libido.
Your pulse rate should be around 75-90 beats per minute upon waking and should increase after eating. If it’s higher than that (with low body temperatures) it could be a sign that you are running on adrenaline and are in a stressed state. High pulse rate can also be a sign of other health issues (such as high blood pressure, for example) so keep this in mind and look at the overall picture.
How to measure your pulse rate
- Place your index and middle finger on your wrist or neck
- Count your pulse for 15 seconds and then multiply by 4 – this is your pulse rate beats per minute
To get a better understanding of how your metabolism is doing, chart your temperature and pulse throughout the day for a few days:
- Upon waking
- Before breakfast
- 20minutes after breakfast
- Between 1-3pm in the afternoon
- Before bed
https://app.squarespacescheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=22372331&appointmentType=21256235If you are noticing consistently low temperatures throughout the day (under 36.4C upon waking and under 37C in the early afternoon) and a low pulse rate (under 75bpm) then there is something that is affecting your metabolism and thyroid function. This could be your diet, your lifestyle, your stress or toxic load and you may need more tailored support in getting to the root cause. I’d be happy to help!. If you’re ready to feel empowered and back in control of your health, click here to book a free discovery call with me and let’s chat about how some bespoke diet and lifestyle changes can help you and your metabolism flourish.