I Started Eating For My Metabolism & My Body Changed In A Bunch Of Unexpected Ways
As I've written about before, the idea of eating for my unique metabolism has fascinated me for years. I like the idea of doing the work to find the foods and routine that work best for your body—and then sticking to those foods and that routine in the long term.
Well, for the last three to four months I've been following a personalized metabolism diet—created by nutritionist and founder of PH2 nutrition Kevin Libby. The plan is pretty simple, painfully simple, actually. It's all about something called "consistent energy patterning," which aims to keep my body out of flight-or-flight mode and in a place where it feels like it's getting everything it needs nutritionally.
But what does the exact plan look like? Click here to find out exactly what my personalized metabolism plan looks like, but in general, the plan consists of little to no caffeine, no raw foods, and a whole lot of salmon and many, many berries. I've been eating this way for about four months, and I can safely say that my health has improved in some unexpected—but also some expected!—ways:
1. Fewer carb cravings.
It's pretty well-known that carbs are really hard to quit. But what I learned through working with Libby is that this vague ambition that we all have to "cut out carbs" is probably a waste of time and not helping our health in the long term. We experimented with different amounts of carbs for the first weeks of the program and found that cutting them out too much makes me tired, cranky, and wanting to eat a chocolate croissant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As you can imagine, that's definitely not the route to take. So instead, we incorporated healthy carbs like berries, sweet potato, and oats into my diet. These foods are carbs, yes, but they won't spike blood sugar. And they still provide a boost of energy. As a result, I didn't crave anything—ever. My complete lack of cravings was one of the most surprising things about this program.
2. More energy for workouts.
For me, workouts are like therapy. And if I haven't sweated it out in two or three days in a row, I get antsy, I don't sleep as well, I start to crave sweets, and basically everything goes downhill. That said, it's historically been hard for me to go to the gym two or three days in a row, and sometimes living in NYC can take a lot out of you, leaving you with zero energy for a workout. After starting this plan, I have more consistent energy levels and I feel like I'm recovering from my workouts a lot quicker and more efficiently. I think this can be attributed to upping my calorie intake on workout days by adding a smoothie with frozen berries, almond milk, spinach, protein powder, and sunflower seed butter. (P.S.: If you think you don't like sunflower seed butter, you obviously haven't tried Wild Friends Organic Honey Sunflower Butter, $29.99 for a 3-pack).
3. A better mood and a sense of calm.
One of the unexpected side effects of this personalized metabolism diet had everything to do with my mood and nervous system. It surprised me how much easier it was to tackle everyday stressors or take them in stride when I was on this plan. I actually expected the opposite; I thought I'd feel deprived and cranky and tired. But my body never felt weak, and cutting caffeine helped me think more clearly, making me more resilient.
4. Easy weight management.
This might surprise you, but I didn't lose significant weight while on this metabolism program. I'm not sure whether this was normal or not. This metabolism plan had me eating more regularly than I was before, and it was definitely higher in calories than my typical diet (for the first week or so I thought I might actually gain weight). I didn't gain weight or lose weight, and I was able to eat a lot of food. And that sounds like a pretty good life to me.
As an added bonus, cutting out raw foods has completely freed me from the occasional bloating I used to experience, which has made me feel so much more comfortable in my clothes throughout the entire day.
5. Improved hormone health.
One of the surprising benefits I got from this eating plan had to do with my hormones. I've been on a mission to achieve optimal hormone balance for years—and as many women who have gone off the pill after years of taking hormonal contraceptives know, that's easier said than done. Despite all my best efforts, my monthly hormone cycle was a little rockier than I would have liked, marked by a few hormonal breakouts, some moodiness, and fatigue. This diet seemed to decrease the severity of all these ailments, and Libby also suggested I try a supplement called Beet Elite, $39.95 at the end of my cycle, which is basically just powdered beets that can help with energy production. It really helped!
As someone who's experimented with any number of health programs—like doctor-approved detoxification programs and a five-day fasting-mimicking diet—I still learned a lot from this experiment. The take-home? There's always something more to learn about our health. This type of nutrition program shouldn't be reserved just for performance athletes, models, and celebrities!
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