Why isn’t my metabolism working?

Obesity is plaguing our country. One trip through your local mall or grocery store is usually all it takes to see that, as a country, we are fatter than we were just 30 years ago. But why are we all getting so fat? If you ask a majority of people they will tell you a very simple answer. “You’re fat because you eat too much and move too little.” It’s a convenient answer because it puts all the responsibility squarely on your shoulders. It also happens to be wrong.

In order to explain this better I first have to define a couple of terms.


I discuss metabolism with my clients every day but for the most part many of them have a very vague idea of just what metabolism is. And I suspect this is true for you also. However, it’s extremely important to know what it is if you want to fix your body fat issue for good.

Metabolism is defined as: the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life. Basically, everything your body has to do every day to keep itself alive falls under the category of metabolism.

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as Type 2 Diabetes and stroke. The term “metabolic” refers to the biochemical processes involved in the body’s normal functioning. Risk factors are traits, conditions, or habits that increase your chance of developing a disease.

Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome:

These are the classic things we look for as doctors when we have a patient to determine if they have this problem. In order to have the syndrome, you only need 3 of the 5 criteria listed here.

• Large waist circumference

A waistline that measures at least 35 inches (89 centimeters) for women and 40 inches (102 centimeters) for men

• High triglyceride level

150 milligrams per deciliter,(mg/dL), or 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), or higher of this type of fat found in blood

• Reduced high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol

Less than 40 mg/dL (1.04 mmol/L) in men or less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) in women of this “good” cholesterol

• Increased blood pressure

130/85 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher

• Elevated fasting blood sugar

100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) or higher

This is important because it means that you do not have to be overweight to have Metabolic Syndrome.  You can still be at very high risk for Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s Syndrome, Stroke, and certain forms of cancer and not be fat at all. 

Now that we got the definitions out of the way lets talk about how the body gets fat. For decades now we’ve been told that to lose body fat we have to eat less than what we burn on a daily basis. But don’t you have friends that can “eat whatever they want” and stay thin? And chances are if you are anything like I was you’ve done diets where you ate a lot less food… but yet the body wouldn’t lose weight. Or it was pitiful weight loss at best. And the body fat always came back.

This is because fat accumulation is a Hormonal Issue, not a Calorie/Energy Issue. Let me explain more with a picture:

Experience Total Transformation with Dr. Kathleen Nash

Don’t get too hung up on the photo. It’s just an example. But in this picture we are looking at 3 different women who appear to be normal body weight.

Now lets look at a woman who is accumulating too much body fat:

getting fat

This woman’s metabolism is functioning differently than the women in the previous photo.

But why is that?

Every time we eat, whether we are normal weight, under weight, or over weight think of it like putting a bag of groceries on the kitchen counter. For most people, the next step after bringing in the groceries it to put them away. And we will pick 3 places to put them:

• The pantry

• The refrigerator

• The freezer

Our bodies do the same thing. Every time we eat our body is going to take that food and put it away. To do that it uses a particular hormone called Insulin. In the picture of normal weight women, their bodies Insulin is pretty efficient and therefore the body puts their food away relatively quickly.

getting fat

So their Insulin will go up when they eat, and it usually takes Insulin about 2-3 hours to “put their food away”. Some will go in muscle and the liver (pantry and fridge), but if those areas are already full then Insulin puts the groceries away in body fat (the freezer)

INSULIN that controls whether or not your body can burn fat for energy!

Meaning that for the amount of time Insulin is putting the groceries away the levels are too high to burn fat. And in between meals the Insulin in your blood (a.k.a. Serum Insulin) has to go below a certain number before your body can burn fat. If that is not happening then it does not matter how active you are, your body simply can NOT burn fat for energy.

Now in the normal person it only takes Insulin about 2-3 hours to break the food down. After that their body simply taps into it’s storage sites to get the energy it needs to function properly (remember that metabolism definition?). And their body can very easily get into their body fat for energy because the Insulin goes low enough to allow it.

However, for many people their Insulin goes 2-3x higher than the normal person, and takes 2-3x longer to put the groceries away. It’s this abnormality that is making the body accumulate body fat. And unless this issue is corrected your chances of losing weight and keep it off are very small indeed. This problem is called Hyperinsulinemia and it is the root cause of obesity and the metabolic diseases that occur as a result.

In the next article, I’ll discuss the causes of Hyperinsulinemia.