So you’ve heard the terms ‘adrenal fatigue’, ‘metabolic damage’ and ‘starvation mode’ in the fitness, Paleo, alternative health and functional medicine realms for a few years now.
Have you wondered what they mean? There’s more than one definition and a long list of symptoms that can actually fall under many health problems. Do you notice most of the people with these ‘diagnoses’ have a history of dieting?
I was gluten and dairy intolerant for years. As a kid, I had extreme stomach pain, like a knife stabbing the inside of my gut. I’ve had farts so stinky, it would make you question your religion. I’ve been to the hospital and endured horrible tests (some I would never repeat), all to no avail.
I did the functional medicine and alternative therapies. You know what? They are heavy with false or unproven claims, a boatload of unnecessary supplements and couched in restrictive, orthorexic concepts. Have you noticed the people selling solutions to these issues offer you a massive assortment of supplements and yet another restrictive diet?
The fact is though, that many lean ‘health conscious’ (non-obese) people who have dieted are not well, many of your favorite group fitness instructors and authors/bloggers included. In short, if you have a history of dieting, eating disorder or over-exercising, your metabolism can slow down and you can experience problems in normal metabolic functions (thyroid, hormones). A restrictive diet is not the solution, that should be obvious.
There are very real health consequences from dieting. The human body does not want to be super lean, it can interfere with fertility and can lead to real metabolic disorders and disordered eating. Energy levels, mood, sex drive, body temperature and sleep are all common casualties of the damage done by restrictive dieting and over-exercising. Problems with these normal life processes are so common, many people think they’re normal.
Leigh Peele, trainer & author, has just released Starve Mode: Explaining and Resetting Metabolic Problems that come from Dieting.
What I most appreciate about Leigh Peele, as you might expect, is that she is straightforward, science-based, doesn’t fear-monger and brings clarity to a muddled topic.
The first chapter is called “This is Not a Diet Book” – what’s not to love? Leigh explains succinctly and provides scientific references in this 200 page masterpiece about many important topics, including:
What is metabolism?
What affects metabolic rate?
Is there a metabolic advantage from diet?
What role do hormones play in fat loss?
Can metabolism be fixed or revved up?
Is a calorie a calorie?
The importance of carbs for normalizing thyroid, cortisol and leptin.
Leigh not only explains the science behind these ideas, but also provides real-world solutions. In addition, the book comes with an mp3 version, so you can listen to it on your commute!
There is also a brief but important primer on how to do research, to help you understand and evaluate the relevance of health and fitness studies.
In a nutshell, I think this is a brilliant, much-needed contribution to a dysfunctional diet culture. Every personal trainer, health coach and dieter needs this book. If you’ve considered yourself or been diagnosed as having adrenal fatigue, metabolic damage or have a history of dieting, this is for you.