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Published November 30, 2011, 11:30 PM

Mathison: Flipping the metabolic switch

Holidays bring families and friends together for stories, lots of laughs, memories recalled and, of course, food. For many of us, and throughout the ages and many cultures, food takes center stage. So why is it that we now partake in celebration food almost daily?

By: Dr. Susan Mathison, INFORUM

“Life is but a mass of habits: practical, emotional and intellectual, systematically organized for our greatness or grief.” – William James

Holidays bring families and friends together for stories, lots of laughs, memories recalled and, of course, food.

For many of us, and throughout the ages and many cultures, food takes center stage. So why is it that we now partake in celebration food almost daily?

Our office at Catalyst Medical Center is a lively place, and staff members bring treats often. The gesture is heart-felt and well meant, but it likely doesn’t do us any favors in the long run. It certainly shows around my middle.

As I grow increasingly frustrated with my metabolism, I came upon a book that I think is awesome, “Flip the Switch,” by Robert Cooper.

According to Cooper, simple habits can “flip the switch” for your metabolism and tap into personal energy reserves, especially stored fat. While no single tip is a total solution, the cumulative effect can make a big difference.

Cooper offers 11 tips to jump start your metabolic switch:

  • Wake up on the right side of the bed.

    This sends the message, “This is going to be an active, energetic day.”

    Breakfast, a few minutes of bright light, some movement and calm energy instead of frenetic rushing are key.

  • Create active momentum.

    Exercise is not only a great way to start the day, but small bursts of activity throughout the day keep your metabolic engine running.

    It’s best to get up and move every half-hour. We are not meant to have our bottoms glued to a desk chair for hours on end. The Mayo Clinic even recommends treadmill desks.

  • Light boosts energy, especially in the morning but throughout the day, serving as the “on” switch for our brain and senses.

  • Take in more oxygen. Deep, relaxed breathing supports fat-burning and helps counteract stress, too.

  • Drink plenty of water to enhance metabolic processes and decrease appetite. Cold water requires more energy to process, so add some ice.

  • Rise up and stand tall.

    Good posture enhances our breathing and minimizes appetite. It also seems to enhance confidence.

  • Turn down the heat to turn up your metabolism. More energy is expended to keep us warm.

  • Timing can improve the ability of insulin to do its job.

    Insulin sensitivity is highest in the early morning, thus including carbs along with protein for breakfast makes sense. In the evening, insulin sensitivity is at a low-point, and starchy or sugary carbs consumed late in the day end up contributing to metabolic decline and fat gain.

  • Stay calm in an uptight world.

    Stress hormones actually trigger production of fat-storage hormones.

  • Have an evening power ritual.

    Try to eat dinner before 7 p.m. Start with protein to stabilize blood sugar, and keep it light – no more than 500-700 calories. Taking a short walk after dinner keeps your metabolic engine going even while you sleep.

  • Get a good night’s sleep.

    There’s a lot going on while you sleep. Getting eight hours of quality sleep enhances insulin sensitivity and decreases fat storage. Keep the room cool and dark.


    Dr. Susan Mathison founded Catalyst Medical Center in Fargo and created PositivelyBeautiful.com to share her thoughts on beauty, wellness and life.

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