What is Metabolic Health?

I talk about metabolic health a LOT, and it’s a really misunderstood term, so I’m going to very briefly explain what I mean by it.

Here is the definition of metabolism I base my philosophy and recommendations on:

Popular culture has distilled the term ‘metabolism’ down to some variation on ‘how many calories the body burns per day’. Energy expenditure is only one aspect of metabolism though. Metabolism is actually every chemical process of every single cell in your body. When I refer to ‘metabolic health’ what I mean is the function of every cell in your body. Proper cell function produces proper endocrine function, which produces homeostasis and metabolic health.

Exercise, appropriate energy balance, sleep, sunlight and good nutrition all affect your body on a cellular level. Supporting proper cellular function supports health on a systemic level. Our approach to health must be expansive and systemic, and not fixate on only one or two aspects of cellular function. Only when the SYSTEM is healthy is metabolic health achieved.

15 thoughts on “What is Metabolic Health?

  1. The body is one if one part suffers all parts suffer with it if one part is honored all the parts share it’s joy

  2. I’m glad you are getting into this…..can you define what you mean by “appropriate energy balance”?

    • It means consuming the appropriate number of calories to support your weight and activity. For many people this means eating MORE than they have been conditioned to eat by years of restriction.

      Lauren is right, it does mean calories in/calories out, but the calories out variable can be affected by many factors, including macro and micronutrient ratios, food quality, sleep quality, etc. So the popular perception of ‘calories in – calories out’ can be a bit oversimplified.

    • Regular physical activity (walking is perfectly adequate!), appropriate energy balance (this means ensuring an adequate calorie intake to support activity and a healthy weight), adequate sleep, sunlight, and good nutrition. In addition to any medical treatment your physician prescribes.

      • “this means ensuring an adequate calorie intake to support activity”

        That’s where I went wrong for awhile (as in many months), I was eating as if I was my old, sedentary self, low-carbing it, maintaining a caloric deficit, and every day feeling like I was trying to run through a brick wall, even though I was now very physically active.

        Lesson learned: It’s okay to eat some cookies.

  3. In your opinion, what are the best indicators of a heathy metabolism? What are signs that there might be an issue?

  4. I’m 35 and have not found the right way for me. I just want to tell you that on those days when I feel down and want to give up searching I go to your blog and read your story. It motivates me to move my body, take care of it, feed it and learn to love it. Maybe that is the right way.

    And from woman to woman: You are gorgeous.

  5. I thought I had ruined my metabolism due to a few years of restriction, which for me was not as low as you may think as it was around 1600-2000 but with daily cardio and fitness classes, so for me it was probably too low. I am happy to say that I now maintain 2800-3200 to maintain and exercise maybe 2-4 days a week and have a job where I am on my feet between 3-5 hours 4 days a week. But, thats it. I am happy that my metabolism has kicked back in and it working for me again and that I can maintain on this amount. I also average between 380-450 grams of carbs each day….yay :)

  6. Hi,

    just wanted to let you know your site is brilliant; the way that you explain these terms, such as metabolism and energy expenditure, in simple, laymen terms is something which is crucially important and necessary in a world where society has long focused on calorie counting (especially for women) in order to guilt and shame us into having a body that fits the feminine ideal (thin, toned, but ultimately weak).

    Your message teaches people to focus on all aspects of metabolic health in order to help them prepare their bodies for a lifestyle of physical training and strength, something which is so over looked by women today that society expects us to be weak, salad eating, chocolate avoiding, green tea drinking drones, and God FORBID we should not select the low-fat yoghurt from the fridge, when we should KNOW that a minute on the lips = life time on the hips (eye roll).

    Thank you, you are not only doing great things for the health and lifestyles of people everywhere, but you also helping feminism by giving spreading your knowledge and experience in order to allow women to make their own choice.


  7. Hi,
    I found your site and approach to metabolic health quite interesting & appropriate given emerging evidence today. Do you think it would be useful to actually calculate metabolic health – so that people can get away focussing excessively on weight and calories and instead track improvements in something more meaningful to their long-term health?

    The link below will take you to an an approach we’re exploring / testing – love to hear your feedback:

  8. Pingback: Reference Page: Go Kaleo | Taper Strength Training

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