As a coach, I discovered a long time ago that there is far more to fat loss than just calories in vs calories out. Dr Ray Peat diet principles and research have continued to revolutionise this field. Those who seek a Dr Ray Peat diet, or Ray Peats lifestyle advice will appreciate the science and wisdom in this blog.
I witness this every day with those I work with. There are layers of reasons why certain people have crazy fast metabolisms, can eat thousands of calories a day and still get lean. Here are just 10 you may not have considered and that you can easily implement. Number 8 may particularly surprise you.
Hormones in particular have a very powerful effect on whether the body loses fat or stores fat. Hormones also impact headspace and mood whilst drastically impacting sleep and energy.
I always remind myself that it is the culmination of daily habits that defines who I am. I think of it this way – each day is my life in miniature. It’s what you do everyday that counts more than what you do once in a while. That’s why this list of everyday things we do really can make a difference to our health, fat loss, hormones and metabolism.
Seeking hormonal balance is vital. When out of balance, the body’s chemistry can lead to a significant downward spiral in overall health, energy and mood and subsequently lead to weight gain.
In this post, I identify some common daily patterns, habits, routine, and behaviours that can work either for or against your goal of creating a great looking, heathy body.
Some of these factors are so simple……yet so destructive to health. Many of these habits that impact fat loss and hormonal balance may have developed over time without even being aware.
This is a must-read list for all of those serious about improving health and body composition.
As a psychotherapist I like to remind you that everyday habits matter and self-awareness is the beginning of all change.
1.WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOU WAKE UP
Melatonin is the hormone which induces sleep and slows down energy production. Melatonin is destroyed by sunlight. Melatonin plummets when the retina of the eyes is exposed to the sunlight by either opening the blinds or simply stepping outside. Once this occurs, our feel-good hormone, serotonin, surges. Personally speaking, I can take on the world when I have started my day after a great night sleep.
On the nights that I have retired for bed too late, I become reluctant to rise early and simply stumble out of bed, my melatonin dissipates, and my serotonin is also impacted and rises slowly. These are the days I need copious amounts of coffee just to get going!!!!
Adrenal stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol rise during darkness. The body cannot differentiate darkness between a dark room or night time. These stress chemicals suppress metabolism, lower immunity, decrease blood flow to the intestines and contribute to storage of belly and back fat. For optimal health, it is recommended to sleep when it is dark and to rise with the sun. To make this process easy get sunlight or turn on bright lights when you rise and dim the lights once the sun goes down.
2. ACCESS TO SUNLIGHT
“The absence of sunlight can create a progesterone deficiency that can leave estrogen and prolactin unopposed”. This can be a common cause of estrogen dominance”. Dr Ray Peat.
Dr Ray Peat refers to a lack of sunlight as the “pathology of estrogen dominance” when lecturing endocrinology in medical school.
“Light exposure and warmer temperatures support metabolism, mood and optimal body temperature maintenance. Improved cellular energy production increases our capacity to handle stress with an increased exposure to light.”
In comparison, the cumulative effects of darkness and sunlight deficiency over an extended period of time reduces our ability to handle stress. It also increases cortisol and decreases thyroid hormone conversion. Darkness is identified as a stress as it impairs energy production. It is associated with a rise in a number of inflammatory substances. Some of these inflammatory substances compensate for decreased energy production.
The red light from sunlight helps cells produce energy and synthesize protective steroid hormones such as progesterone. Red light also reduces stress hormones from being released as a result of darkness and low energy production.
“Light deprivation induces a progesterone deficiency allowing cortisol, aldosterone, estrogen and prolactin to act unopposed creating PMS symptoms. Progesterone deficiency also results in other women’s issues such as fatigue, mood change and weight gain. Darkness also causes chronic rises in adrenaline as well. This has been consistently shown to inhibit progesterone production and lower thyroid hormone output.” https://www.functionalps.com/ Functional Performance System.
Something as simple as getting sunlight on your skin, can have such a profound effect upon your metabolism, estrogen dominance, energy, mood and fat synthesis.
It is important to remember that light exposure improves metabolic rate and darkness does the opposite. I find it absolutely fascinating that low metabolism and stress related symptoms surface more during winter than during summer months.
3.ANTI OR PRO-THYROID FOOD (based on Dr Ray Peat diet principles)
It is so easy, quick and often cheap to buy processed food when we are time poor or in a hurry. I get it, I’m guilty of it, drive-throughs, uber eats. But let me tell you, processed food will wreak havoc on your liver, increases estrogen, suppresses the thyroid gland increasing inflammatory markers and are often very high in empty calories.
There are also many other common foods that actually are HEALTHY but suppress thyroid hormone conversion. These “healthy” foods slow down metabolic rate and fat burning. Many health-conscious people drink protein shakes, consume seeds, nuts, raw vegetables and soy products. All of these foods work against a fast metabolism and efficient fat burning.
My Pro-Metabolic meal plans which utilises a Dr Ray Peat diet framework focuses only on nutrition which will increase metabolism and avoids any food that slows down thyroid hormone production and conversion. Great health and efficient fat loss become effortless once hormonal health is prioritized.
4. DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING.
Your breathing communicates more to every cell in your body that you safe, and not under threat than anything else. When stressed, breathing becomes shallow with short sharp inhalations. This gives the message to the body that life is in danger. The result……stress hormones increase and fat burning decreases. The body then switches to fat storage.
Deep breathing is long and slow breathing that moves the diaphragm up and down and makes the stomach move in and out. Shallow breathing only moves the chest. I often find myself not breathing property if I’m under pressure. I have to consciously stop and take 10 deep slow Diaphragmatic breaths which I find quite restorative and instantly calming.
Dr Ray Peats work is riddled with research explaining the impact of oxygen and carbon dioxide on metabolic rate and health and no Ray Peat diet plan would be complete without awareness of these important aspects.
“The ripple effect of worrying can very slowly and subtly change your metabolism to one of fat storage and leave your headspace full of sadness” Dr Libby Weaver.
It may sound simple, but don’t underestimate the importance of managing your thoughts. Worrying about something that has not occurred and most likely will not happen, will not change the outcome of a situation. Stressing about something yet to occur, simply only elevates stress hormones. Stress….whether real or perceived….can promote the production of excess cortisol, which is now known as a significant factor in fat storage and metabolic conditions
6. LACK OF SLEEP
I consider a lack of quality sleep as one of the most significant factors impacting hormones, fat loss and metabolism. Poor sleep impacts both our physical and mental health. Quality sleep is vital for stress management. For some, sleep is often the only time the body can rest and repair. Without adequate sleep, the body produces more of the stress hormones cortisol that sends the adrenal glands into overload and puts a halt to fat burring. Dr Ray Peat diet principles are the most effective when the body is rested, nourished, well slept and not stressed, in fact this is a fundamental principle.
And keep in mind that it is only during the deep phases of sleep, that fat burning becomes primary fuel source.
7. TOO MUCH EXERCISE
Who would have thought?. The reality is that high intensity, exhausting exercise adds stress to the body. A healthy body that can manage this stress with rest, and good quality recovery will be just fine. But……adding stress to an already stressed out body is a recipe for metabolic disaster!!!!
So if you are already in a calorie deficit, a nutrient deficient (low carb), an energy deficit or not resting enough, then “excessive or exhausting” cardio will not deliver the results you seek.
My Pro-Metabolic meal plan programs which will help you burn fat whilst eating more , encourages less cardio and more rest. The fundamentals of a Ray Peat diet framework are about nourishing the body not stressing the body
8. LACK OF SOLITUDE OR TIME SPENT ON YOUR OWN
Studies have shown that spending time in solitude on your own decreases stress hormones, boosts memory, encourages creativity and improves empathy. It allows us to recharge, restore and re-set. I talk to both my therapy and nutrition clients about setting aside regular down time as part of the overall plan to either drop weight, or improve mood
9. EVEB CHEWING FOOD PROPERLY APPLIES TO RAY PEAT
Some people inhale their food or eat on the run shovelling food in without properly chewing. The gut and stomach then have to work harder to create more stomach acid and digestive enzymes to break down larger chunks of food. This behaviour increases stress hormones and often results bloating. Neither a win win for fat loss, metabolism or feeling great
10. HOW YOU THINK ABOUT LIFE AND YOURSELF
Our beliefs and perceptions influence whether we feel stressed, worried, angry, overwhelmed or sad. Your physical body is a mirror of what your mind is thinking and feeling. This is also the case when you feel calm, safe, happy and positive. We know now that when our mind is wrestling with emotional issues or negative self-talk, it has a direct impact upon our physical functioning, and our hormonal health.
We all see the world through our own experiences and perspective. When we see life as stressful, full of pressure, boring, depressing, difficult or challenging, our body responds accordingly. Whilst saying this, it is important to note that we all get down and have things that upset us throughout our lives. It ultimately comes down to how long we remain stuck in that head space or negative thinking.
I encourage everyone to shift their thinking and focus on gratitude, acceptance, letting go, and to see the beauty in life that is around us.
As I mentioned at the beginning – if each day is your life in miniature, then its what you do when you wake up, what you think, how your breath and what you eat that will ultimately have the most significant impact to your health, fat loss, hormones and metabolism.
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