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Your Size Doesn’t Dictate Your Metabolic Health

November 18, 2021
Written by
Team NutriSense
Reviewed by

Can you be healthy at any size? Does your inability to lose weight mean that you're unhealthy or simply that you have a slow metabolism? And why does any of this matter? If you're the sort of person who wants to make healthy changes to your lifestyle, you've probably wondered about your metabolic health. But even if you haven't, you may want to start thinking about it. Whether you’re exercising in an attempt to lose body fat, attempting to make better food choices to optimize your health, or trying to learn more about what Health at Every Size means, read on!  

You've probably heard about how high-fat diets, excess weight, and unhealthy lifestyles are risk factors for things like high blood pressure, cholesterol, and insulin resistance in some people. So the food choices you make and the level of physical activity you engage in daily can have significant implications for your health. For example, diets high in processed fats and refined sugar can disrupt insulin response and lead to inflammation, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

But you ever wondered if your body size has anything to do with how your metabolism works? While being overweight isn't healthy, unhealthy weight loss can have harmful side effects on your overall health too. Your size and weight are not always a good way to gauge metabolic health, which you may want to pay more attention to! 

What is Metabolic Health, and How Does Your Metabolism Work?

Here's something you should know: the human body functions thanks to energy, and this energy comes from three primary nutrients: lipids (fats), carbohydrates, and proteins. These three macronutrients travel from your digestive system into your blood and from your blood to your organs. Here, they're then oxidized into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a molecule that is used to store and transfer energy in your cells. All these chemical processes require energy as fuel to keep your body functioning correctly. A well-known unit of measurement for the quantity of this energy is—calories!

If any of this is confusing, it's helpful to think of your body as a miracle worker, transforming the food you eat into energy. This energy then slowly turns into heat, through a process more commonly known as—you guessed it—burning calories. It's usually calculated using the basal metabolic rate (BMR), depending on your age, weight, and lifestyle. This BMR may account for up to 75 percent of your body's daily energy requirements, and the remaining 25 percent will depend on the level of physical activity you engage in.

Besides the main factors that influence your BMR levels (age, weight, gender, and lifestyle), BMR may also rise if the meals you consume are rich in protein. Other factors to consider are whether the intensity of the physical activity you engage in is high and whether your exercise focuses on muscle contraction.

Do Some People Have a Faster or Slower Metabolism Than Others?

Now that you understand how metabolism works, you've probably already guessed that there are differences in how metabolism works for different people. Age, gender, genetics, and body size all play an essential role in how fast or slow your metabolism is. Still, this doesn't mean that skinny people always have a quicker metabolism or that overweight people are destined to have a slow metabolism. 

Muscle mass may be a better way to talk about this. The cells in your muscle tissue require a lot of energy, while fat cells require less energy. So people with a higher muscle mass tend to have a faster metabolism. At the same time, larger bodies need more energy to carry out basic bodily functions, which means that their metabolism may often be quicker than metabolism among thinner people. Of course, it's never one-size-fits-all, so all of this can vary from person to person.  

An important takeaway here is that metabolism isn't always in the driver's seat. For example, people who have a hard time losing weight often blame their weight woes on a slow metabolism, but this may not always be the case. You've probably heard before that losing weight with the help of crash diets will slow down your metabolism, and that's often true. This is because your body is forced to break down proteins for energy over a short period. So if your muscle mass is low, it can lead to a slower metabolism.

Studies show that things like overeating often factor into the causes of weight gain, which likely comes as no surprise to you. But remember that this happens less because you're just eating 'too much' and more because you're eating and drinking more calories than you're burning off. While keeping track of calories can seem like the most convenient way to keep track of your weight, there are many other factors in play. It can help to use a CGM to track and monitor what you're eating instead, so you can focus on overall metabolic health.   

How to Maintain Metabolic Health

So, what's the secret to a healthy metabolism? Again, it's important to remember that there's no one-size-fits-all. But something that may help is to focus on balance. Remember that the nutrients you put into your body turn into energy, so the quality of your diet is just as important as the amount you eat and the level of physical activity that you use to burn calories. 

It's also essential to keep in mind that a good diet can positively influence every aspect of your health. A diet that's high in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals has an impact on your physical and mental health. In a nutshell: what you choose as fuel daily will impact how you feel, how you move, and your overall life. While not all processed foods are harmful, a diet full of primarily processed foods and added sugars can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, inflammation, and other chronic diseases.

And while you can't always control how fast or slow your metabolism is, you can control the quality of food you ingest and how much of it you burn through physical activity. So, it's a good idea to prioritize whole foods and consume nutrient-rich foods that will keep you full for longer to prevent overeating.  

Also, the more active you are, the more calories you'll burn, leading to a higher BMR. The best way to do this is often the simplest. Try around 30 minutes of activity a day, five days a week. This can include anything from walking and cycling to dancing or aerobic exercises at the gym. If your goal is to improve your metabolic rate, you can also consider trying a metabolic diet

Whatever you choose to do, make sure you're not eliminating foods entirely or making drastic changes without a bit of help. Cutting out carbohydrates and dietary fat may seem like a good idea, but there's no one-size-fits-all for good metabolic health. Consider joining a Nutrition Coaching Program to see what works best for you.  

So, Does Size Influence Your Health at All?

While your size doesn't dictate your metabolic health, it doesn't mean it has no effect on your health at all. It simply means it's not the only factor to consider, and that just like being overweight doesn't always mean you're unhealthy, being thin won't necessarily mean you're healthy.

And where does your BMI (body mass index) fit into all this? For some, it's still the most recognizable indicator of unhealthy or healthy weight. But since your body size is not the best way to assess your health, the BMI may not be either. Instead, you should focus on body composition, overall health, and health indicators like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood glucose, and hormone levels.

These indicators are more important than the number on your BMI scale as they're the main risk factors for chronic health issues. While obesity can be a leading factor for all these issues, it doesn't immediately point to any health issues if your weight slightly exceeds the 'standard' limit. Ask yourself instead if you're full of energy or whether you can do everyday things like climbing the stairs, walking, and cycling without running out of breath. If so, you're probably in decent shape regardless of your waistline.

And remember when we said being thin doesn't necessarily mean you're healthy either? An interesting thing to think about here is the term "metabolically obese." It describes someone who is lean but not healthy. This means they can fall within normal body weight limits but have things like high cholesterol and unhealthy fluctuations in blood glucose levels. 

Your weight should not be your main focus, and while you can aim for a healthy target weight, simply losing weight at any cost shouldn't be what you focus on. Uncontrolled weight gain can lead to metabolic syndrome, but losing weight in an unhealthy way can do just as much harm. 

How to Stay Healthy at Every Size

A well-balanced diet, proper hydration, exercise, and restful sleep can be the key to physical and mental wellness. Whatever your body size, it's the lifestyle choices you make that influence your health, and as long as you are healthy, you'll look your best! So even if your goal is weight loss, remember to target healthy weight loss to ensure good metabolic health. 

Try to create a daily routine where you incorporate exercise and eat whole foods that give your body the nutrition it needs. Your food intake should consist of fiber, protein like fish, meat, beans, lentils, whole grains, and healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, and nuts. At the end of the day, understanding how your metabolism works and how it could influence your health is the best way to start making the right choices for overall health and wellness. 

Monitor Your Metabolic Health with NutriSense

Want to make sure you’re staying healthy at every size? NutriSense gives you access to your own registered dietitian, who can help you learn more about your metabolic health and how to target overall wellness using a CGM. People with diabetes have been using CGMs for years, but checking glucose values can provide insights into your metabolic health, even if you’re not a diabetic. 

CGMs are a great way to start a preventive health plan, and now anyone can get one thanks to NutriSense, which offers the same technology for the public for the first time. The best part is that you can use their continuous glucose monitors with an innovative app that tracks your blood glucose levels in real-time! There's also a team of registered dietitians to help you read and understand the data.

Click here to listen to the podcast.
Listen to the full podcast:
Your Size Doesn’t Dictate Your Metabolic Health
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9 Essential Ways to Track Your Fitness (That Don’t Involve a Scale)
9 Essential Ways to Track Your Fitness (That Don’t Involve a Scale)

Most fitness tracking metrics involve stepping on the scale, but they don't always have to! Here are nine other ways to track your fitness.

Story
14
min
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Foods You Should Avoid Eating If You Have Prediabetes
Foods You Should Avoid Eating If You Have Prediabetes

There are many food items that can worsen the effects of prediabetes. Here are some foods you should avoid or limit your intake of throughout your day.

Story
11
min
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How Many Meals Should You Eat in a Day?
How Many Meals Should You Eat in a Day?

What's the perfect time to eat, and how many meals should you eat in a day? Explore how eating at different times and frequencies each day impacts your body and blood glucose.

Story
6
min
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NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Glucose-Friendly Apple Cider Vinegar Drinks
NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Glucose-Friendly Apple Cider Vinegar Drinks

Looking for a way to add apple cider vinegar into your diet? Start with some of these delicious glucose-friendly ACV drinks, recommended by our Nutrition Team.

Story
8
min
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Benefits of Walking After Eating: From Regulating Blood Sugar To Lowering Blood Pressure 
Benefits of Walking After Eating: From Regulating Blood Sugar To Lowering Blood Pressure 

Find out how taking a walk after your next meal can benefit various aspects of your health, including your blood glucose levels.

Podcast
55
min
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I Think, I Can—Using Technology as a Window Into Your Physiology
I Think, I Can—Using Technology as a Window Into Your Physiology

Molly explains how using a continuous glucose monitor is what personalized health care means. If you want to fine-tune your health, tune in to this special episode of I Think, I Can.

Podcast
10
min
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My Day | My Life: Nutritionist Carlee Hayes' Canine Cuddles
My Day | My Life: Nutritionist Carlee Hayes' Canine Cuddles

My Day | My Life explores the lives of people who have, in one way or another, mastered the art of aging. In this episode, meet Carlee Hayes, dietitian and Nutrition Manager at NutriSense.

Story
9
min
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Common Workout Injuries and How to Prevent Them
Common Workout Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Worried about getting injured during your next workout? Learn about the most common workout injuries, how they can affect blood glucose levels, and some tips to help you prevent them.

Story
6
min
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Eat with NutriSense This St. Patrick's Day
Eat with NutriSense This St. Patrick's Day

Would eating the same meal, at the same time, have the same blood glucose response for three different people? See what our team found out after sampling a delicious corned beef and cabbage dish in preparation for St. Patrick's Day!

Story
7
min
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Build Healthy Habits During Lent
Build Healthy Habits During Lent

Do you know what you're giving up for Lent this year? For those who observe it, this can be a good time to give up bad habits, and add healthy ones into your routine! Read on to find out more about how to build healthy habits this season.

Story
11
min
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Do You Know How Healthy Your Breakfast Cereal Is?
Do You Know How Healthy Your Breakfast Cereal Is?

Cereal is one of the most popular breakfast foods out there—but how healthy is it, really? Review the nutritional content of some popular breakfast cereals, and learn how to choose a healthy option for your individual needs.

Story
9
min
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Obesity: What You Should Know and Some New Research on the Condition
Obesity: What You Should Know and Some New Research on the Condition

Did you know that more than two in five adults have obesity? Find out more about the pressing public health issue, review some new research that is shedding light on the condition, and learn how to diagnose and treat it.

Story
7
min
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Tips for a Healthy, Happy Purim
Tips for a Healthy, Happy Purim

Purim, a joyous occasion celebrated around March or April every year, is just around the corner! Read on to learn more about the holiday and the delicious foods that accompany it.

Story
9
min
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Vinegar and Blood Sugar: Does It Lower It?
Vinegar and Blood Sugar: Does It Lower It?

Read on to find out what impact, if any, vinegar really has on our body’s ability to balance blood sugar.

Story
8
min
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Meal Frequency and Insulin Sensitivity: How Many Times Should You be Eating in a Day?
Meal Frequency and Insulin Sensitivity: How Many Times Should You be Eating in a Day?

If you have insulin sensitivity, is eating two large meals a day or three to five smaller meals better? Find out more about the relationship between meal frequency and insulin sensitivity, and how many times you should be eating in a day.

Story
9
min
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Understanding the Causes and Symptoms of Endometriosis
Understanding the Causes and Symptoms of Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a common yet often ignored condition. Learn more about the symptoms to watch out for, how you can seek treatment, and read first-hand accounts from two women who have dealt with endometriosis.

Story
8
min
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The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices
The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic healing system that dates back over 5,000 years. In the second installment of our series on the practice, review the benefits and risks associated with popular Ayurvedic herbs and spices.

Story
7
min
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Can Eating Pizza Raise Your Blood Glucose Levels?
Can Eating Pizza Raise Your Blood Glucose Levels?

Pizza can be challenging to enjoy eating without worrying about how it affects your health. But while it may be indulgent, it is possible to prepare or order it in a way that won’t wreak havoc on your health or blood sugar levels. Read on to find out more!

Story
8
min
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Do Artificial Sweeteners Raise Insulin Levels?
Do Artificial Sweeteners Raise Insulin Levels?

Review our post on the impacts artificial sweeteners have on blood glucose, insulin, and other areas of your personal health.

Story
8
min
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What Research Says About Sleep and Blood Sugar Levels
What Research Says About Sleep and Blood Sugar Levels

Recent research has shown that sleep and blood glucose are intricately connected. Read on to learn more about what this means for your blood sugar levels and overall health.

Story
8
min
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Understanding the Relationship Between Menopause and Metabolic Health
Understanding the Relationship Between Menopause and Metabolic Health

Did you know that menopause can affect your metabolic health, and vice versa? Read on to understand the relationship between metabolic health and menopause, and how to manage metabolic health during your menopausal journey. 

Podcast
57
min
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How a Continuous Blood Sugar Monitor Can Help You Find Your Perfect Diet
How a Continuous Blood Sugar Monitor Can Help You Find Your Perfect Diet

In this episode learn the truth about how we react to certain foods in regards to our blood sugar response and how you can tailor your diet according to your CGM results.

Podcast
66
min
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All About Blood Sugar With Molly Downey, RDN
All About Blood Sugar With Molly Downey, RDN

This week, dive into how to eat your carbs and manage your blood sugar, too with Molly Downey, RDN, LDN.

Story
8
min
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A NutriSense Dietitian's Favorite Kitchen Staples
A NutriSense Dietitian's Favorite Kitchen Staples

Food can be fun, pleasurable, and nutritious all at the same time. Read on to learn more about the two nutrient-dense kitchen staples one of our dietitians swears by to help optimize her health!

Story
10
min
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10 Tastiest Nutrient-Dense Foods From Around the World
10 Tastiest Nutrient-Dense Foods From Around the World

Instead of the type or amount of food you eat, you should focus on the amount of nutrients you're adding to every meal. Here are some of our favorite nutrient-dense foods from around the world to help you get started.

Story
7
min
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Do Pineapples Raise Blood Sugar Levels?
Do Pineapples Raise Blood Sugar Levels?

Learn everything you need to know about pineapples, your health, and your blood glucose levels, and see how our dietitians like to eat the sweet, tropical fruit. 

Story
14
min
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Setting Up The Right Diet Plan For Prediabetes [+Sample Diet Plan Included]
Setting Up The Right Diet Plan For Prediabetes [+Sample Diet Plan Included]

Learn more about the relationship between prediabetes and your diet, and see how to build a diet plan that works for you with some great tips, tricks and recipes from our nutrition team!

Story
9
min
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What You Should Know About Acupuncture
What You Should Know About Acupuncture

Learn more about the research on, as well as the benefits and risks of acupuncture, a form of alternative medicine that involves inserting needles into your body for pain and stress relief.

Story
6
min
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Triglycerides and Blood Glucose [+Tips to Lower Triglyceride Levels]
Triglycerides and Blood Glucose [+Tips to Lower Triglyceride Levels]

Learn everything you need to know about the relationship between triglycerides levels and blood glucose.


Story
5
min
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A Guide to Ayurveda
A Guide to Ayurveda

From acupuncture to chiropractic treatments and homeopathy to holistic healing, complementary and alternative medicine is increasing in popularity. Read on to learn more about Ayurveda, a healing system that originated in India thousands of years ago.  

Story
7
min
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Sugar and Cholesterol: Does Sugar Raise Your Cholesterol Levels?
Sugar and Cholesterol: Does Sugar Raise Your Cholesterol Levels?

Learn about the impact sugar has on your cholesterol levels and ways to manage your sugar intake.