What Affects Your Metabolism

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What Affects Your MetabolismMetabolism is a term used to describe all chemical processes in the body that are to do with maintaining the living cells. Usually, when talking about metabolism, the term refers to how quickly we digest and process food. This is the metabolic rate. People with a higher metabolic rate have more chemical processes happening, so require more energy. This means they tend to eat more because the food gets digested and turned into energy. If you have a lower metabolic rate this food gets digested and stored as fat. Metabolism is affected by a number of things such as your weight, your age, your gender and even the time of day!

But what non-circumstantial events and activities affect your metabolism?


Your thyroid is the gland that is responsible for producing the hormone thyroxine. It is this hormone that helps regulate your metabolism so you burn as much energy as you need. Normally it can tell what your metabolic rate should be but there are various medical conditions that can cause it to go out of whack. If it gets bigger it will produce too much thyroxine causing you to gain weight and if it shrinks the opposite happens. You sometimes hear people in movies say they're overweight because of glandular problems. This is the thyroid. So it could well be true, but there are a lot of other more likely reasons that could also account for weight gain...

Does having more muscles give you a higher metabolism?

According to Claude Bouchard of the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre, a pound of muscle burns 3 times more calories than a pound of fat while at rest. So yes having more muscle will give you a higher metabolism. However, the difference is only 3 calories per pound to 10 calories per pound. So gaining 3-5 pounds of muscles will result in about an extra 30-50 calories a day being burned. But over the course of years, this will have a big effect.

What about when you exercise?

When you exercise you use up glucose stored in the muscles. When you finish this glucose needs replacing so your metabolism gets faster to help repair. Your muscles also need to repair which uses up calories. I talked before about high-intensity interval training when I discussed how HIIT leads you to an oxygen deficit. This then leads to your metabolism increasing to help replenish your body.

Drinking Water

Drinking 500 ml of water can increase the metabolic rate by 30% according to an article in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. This means that if you drink 2 litres of water you will burn around an extra 100 calories a day. Again this doesn't seem like much but this is the same as 2.4kg of fat being burnt off in a single year!


Caffeine does increase your metabolic rate. It has the chemical epinephrine which sends a signal to your fat cells telling them to breakdown and release into your blood. But coffee and tea themselves have calories and a whole host of other possible side effects so its not the best way to increase your metabolism.

Green tea

Green tea is a popular part of diets that's meant to aid weight loss and promote a faster metabolic rate. The studies that have been done on green tea and metabolism have produced mixed results.However, water increases your metabolism so a glass of water with some stewed leaves in it is bound to as well right? Also hot drinks do burn more calories because your body needs to work to cool you down after the drink has heated you up.

So overall there are a lot of factors that play a role in your metabolism. Since it can only be measured with specialist equipment and controlled experiments, I think it's best not to think about it and simply let nature run its course! And before you go be sure to give Flat Calm Livings Facebook page a like!


Are There Good Fats And Bad Fats?

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Are there good fats and bad fatsThere is a lot of debate about what fats are good for you and what fats are bad for you. You read about one diet that is all low fat then another which is all high fat. I did some research and this is what I found!


This the worst offender when it comes to to fat as it increases bad cholesterol. This, in turn, can lead to gunk building in your arteries which is bad for your heart. Trans fat is the byproduct of a process called hydrogenation. This process turns vegetable oils into solids.

In the UK, it's never been a big problem since it's most common in fast food - which is not as popular as it is in America. In America, it did become a problem so the FDA began strict regulation of its use.


These are fats most common in animal fat and animal products - milk, cheese, cream. It was first deemed unhealthy because it was thought that saturated fat raised cholesterol, and high cholesterol caused heart disease. The problem was all these assumptions were from animal studies, not human.

More recently, a broader look was taken at experimental data from different countries. From that, it was suggested that there is no link between heart disease and saturated fat!

Americas epidemic is most likely a factor of the fact that there is a huge obesity problem. So it's not what's eaten it is the humongous quantities that are eaten!


Unsaturated fats fall into two categories monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These are thought to be the "good fats" and are in most cooking oils.

Mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are both thought to help lower cholesterol. Studies have been done to back this up but if sat fats aren't "bad" can unsaturated fats be "good"?


As I'm sure you know, omega 3 is found in fish but it is also quite common in walnuts as well as several herbs and spices. Omega three fats are the only fats that have all the evidence pointing in their favour. This is most likely because people don't tend to overeat on fish. Omega 3 fats have anti-inflammatory properties which means better blood flow. This lead to a healthier heart and brain.


Now this isn't one I'd heard of before I began research for this article. Omega 6 is the opposite of omega 3 in that it has inflammatory properties. This can lead to heart problems if eaten in excess. There is research currently being done to find the perfect balance between them. Omega 6 is found in sunflower oil, corn oil and soybean oil. Now corn oil and soybean oil are not the most commonly found but they make are often used in animal feed. So if it is all the animals eat it is probably transferring through to the people who eat the animals!

I don't think there is a magic combination of all the different fats. Omega 3 is good for you and trans fats are bad for you. All others don't make a huge difference. Just keep enjoying all different foods in moderation, don't overeat and stay clear of fast food! (Though even fast food in moderation is fine!). And if you can eat some more fish that will definitely help you out!


5 Reasons To Give Up Diet Coke Today

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How bad is Diet CokeI've never been a fan of Diet Coke. It seems too dishonest. At least when you have a regular can of Coke you know it's full of sugar, it's bad for your teeth and is unhealthy. Now with Diet Coke you have no sugar and no calories. So you have to ask, what's left? I did some research and here's what I found.

1. Diet Coke is bad for your teeth.

Everyone knows the old experiment of putting a tooth in a glass of Coke and it dissolves. It's high in sugar and sugar is bad for your teeth, everyone learns that early in life so surely Diet Coke is fine for your teeth?


Diet Coke is still full of citric acid and this acid erodes tooth enamel, which can cause sensitive teeth, pain in your teeth and tooth decay.

2. Diet Coke can make you gain weight.

Now that seems the opposite of what you might expect. How can less calories translate into weight gain?

There was a study done by the university of Texas which examined the long term effects of artificially sweetened beverages and non artificially sweetened beverages. In other words diet versus non diet. This study has been discussed a lot when talking about the dangers of diet drinks but I noticed no one sourced the original paper!

So I dug through Google and found it. It says that after the 10 years the people who drank diet sodas had a 50% bigger increase in BMI compared to those that didn't drink them.

So both groups gained weight but the people drinking soda gained significantly more. Any one who wants to read the paper can do so here.

This is possibly a psychological effect. When your body tastes the sweeteners it gets ready for the boost of energy that sugar normally provides. So when it doesn't get energy, because there are zero calories, your body gets cravings for food. So this means you are likely to end up snacking or over eating and because your body craves that insta-sugar boost you are likely to snack on something unhealthy like a chocolate bar. And people tend to justify the chocolate bar in thinking "Well I had Diet Coke so I'm allowed chocolate!"

3. Artificial sweeteners are not better than sugar.

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used in diet soft drinks. This is quite a controversial ingredient as there are a lot of people in both camps as to how bad it is for you (as is often the case with nutrition).

I found a really awesome video going into the details about the dangers of aspartame which I highly reccommend you check out. It's on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB6L9S_jc5E And there is an accompanying article at http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/06/aspartame-most-dangerous-substance-added-to-food.aspx.

To sum the article up it talks about how aspartame causes 75% of the worst reactions to food as reported to the FDA. IT has been linked to causing illness ranging from headaches and muscle fatigue to cancer, alzheimer's and fibromyalgia. They also talk about how it first got allowed through the FDA. Basically studies were done into the effects of it and it got denied multiple times by the FDA. Then there were some political changes and the owner of the company trying to get aspartame allowed as a beverage sweetener elected the new commissioner of the FDA who then brought in his own people who declared aspartame safe. The following year Diet Coke went on the shelves.

So regardless of how bad aspartame is for you, it is definitely agreed it is not good for you so best to avoid it.

4. Artificial sweeteners can also change the way we taste.

According to Harvard medical schoolArtificial sweeteners have a much more intense flavour compared to regular sugar. This means that if you eat a lot of foods containing artificial sweeteners you can dull your taste buds so you become unable to taste more complex flavours. This means that fruit no longer tastes sweet and delicious, and vegetables become incredible bland. I imagine the same is also true if you eat a lot of sugary foods. The same dulling effect will occur but it is faster with artificial sweeteners.

5. Diet coke has no nutritional value at all.

None. None of the ingredients provide any nutrients that can be used by the body. The only part of it that is any good is that it is water. So instead of forcing your body to siphon out all the bad stuff to get to the water why don't you cut out the middle man and just drink water!

I've already talked about the great benefits of water here, so I wont go into the details again.

Overall, Diet Coke is not as it seems. For instance, the drink it self will not make you gain weight as they have zero calories but they will almost definitely set off a chain reaction leading to weight gain. More importantly though are how bad all the ingredients are. Maybe the studies have been misinterpreted and Diet Coke will not not give you headaches (Or worse) but it is certainly a long way from healthy.

What about other diet sodas?

I had a look into other diet sodas and they all seem to contain roughly the same ingredients. Packed full of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and various types of acid.

So try and cut out diet sodas completely and replace it with water. If you drink a lot of soda it may take some time for your taste buds to adjust back to normal and for water to taste reasonable but it is worth it. Also having a can a day is a lot. I really cant recommend drinking any of it but nobody is perfect and even I like a can of coke now and again but it probably isn't more than once a month. So just be aware of the dangers.

Please leave a comment to let me know what you think!


3 Things To Consider Before Going Gluten Free

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The gluten free diet is getting a lot of attention, I was skeptical so decided to do some research. Is it the golden path to a healthier life or simply a Hollywood fad?

1.First of all what is Gluten?

How many people who begin a gluten free diet know what gluten is? Well the Internet is full of opinions and diet tips but what gluten is, is pretty damn simple.

The Truth Behind Gluten Free DietsGluten is a group of proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. Nothing unnatural and it can definitely be digested by humans on the whole. For Instance Seitan is pure wheat gluten and is eaten as a protein replacement for vegetarians and vegans. It is what makes bread rise when you leave it to sit before baking it. South park did a great episode about gluten free. The story was that gluten is a terrible for you but no one knows why and if you eat gluten your penis will fly off. Hilarious.

Wikipedia has more information about gluten, and the chemistry of it for any who are curious.

2.Who needs to avoid gluten?

Celiac disease is the most common association of gluten intolerance. If you suffer from celiac disease your body is unable to digest foods containing gluten. This results in pain and discomfort, fatigue, bowel problems and even arthritis. Unfortunately it can also be symptomless.

If you are at all worried go to the doctor and they can test to find out if you are a celiac or not.

You could also be allergic to wheat. If this is the case when you eat wheat your body will reject it out of every orifice within four hours. So there is no missing that one!

One major upside of gluten free growing as a fad is that gluten free choices are now widely available. Unfortunately, people could end up desensitized to gluten intolerance as a medical condition.

"I'm just back from the doctor and it turns out I'm a celiac that's why I've been feeling so un well the past while."

"Oh my god! Well I know how you feel, I gave up gluten last summer and I felt way less bloated. It was great! But I missed drinking beer so I gave up, I've thought about trying again though maybe we could try it together?!"

"My body has basically been destroying itself for years ... That is not the same as you being bloated!! EAT LESS CARBS TO BE LESS BLOATED I'M NOT JUST TRYING GLUTEN FREE I HAVE NO CHOICE!!!"


Gluten has been named as a source of several medical conditions: autism, schizophrenia and ADD. In my opinion ADD is likely solved by eating less sugar, and the other conditions being blamed are all going to go the way of vaccines and prove inconclusive.

But lets look at the science. I studied physics at university so I learned to go the source, never trust what somebody else says they read.

The other effects of gluten are known as Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. There is research being done into the relation between these conditions and gluten, but from what I have read there is yet to be a large scale trial undertaken. This is a red flag for me as it means that there is not enough interest or funding available. All the trials that have been conducted have been small examining only a few dozen patients.

The results also vary massively. One paper says it affects 0.5% while another says 6%. This doesn't seem like a lot but that is a huge discrepancy. The difference of 35 million people to 420 million.

So there is reason for some people to avoid gluten but these people have all been diagnosed by a doctor.

The amount of research being published about non-celiac gluten sensitivity is also quite low. I found a table showing how many papers are being published about non-celiac gluten sensitivity. If more papres are being published it means there is more interest and so more people believe it is a problem.  It is getting higher but I don't think there is enough evidence to suggest that gluten free should be adopted by the masses.


Gluten Free

Image source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3820047/

For any one who is interested in reading further into the scientific research of gluten and it's effect on the body here is a great paper showing the round up of the research in to celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

3. What Benefits Will You See From Gluten Free?

This is for people who do not have an allergy or any other type of intolerance. If you have already gone gluten free and find you feel much better go to the doctor to get an official diagnosis.

I think the main reason the gluten free diet is effective is that a lot of un-healthy foods have gluten in them. Cakes and Pastries are high in sugar and fat, and if bread is cut from the diet likely its replacement has less calories. So by eliminating gluten from your diet you are likely to be eating less sugars fats and calories.

You are also becoming more aware of your diet. You don't eat mindlessly because you have to check what your eating . You east less processed foods and enjoy healthy options, fruits and vegetables for instance.I have some news though.

You can do these things without changing your diet!

Some people need a catalyst to embrace change and maybe that's what gluten free fad is. Eating less sugar and fats is not a bad thing by any means, I simply want people to take a closer look before diving in.

Beer is another common source of gluten. Not all beers have gluten, there are plenty that don't But being gluten free might mean that, say, going for a quick drink after work becomes harder so you might skip it and again be consuming less calories and less alcohol which will always be healthier.

Some of my friends had been recommended a gluten free diet to help with their various joint pains, one with knee pain and one with back pain. Both tried gluten and felt no better. My friend with knee pain went to a physiotherapist for regular sessions which helped his knee. My friend with back pain, who got recommended giving up gluten by a chiropractor, went to a doctor and got proper treatment.

I have read of other people online having success from giving up gluten, Maybe it's a placebo effect? Maybe there's more to it than gluten=joint pain? Research has been done into how gluten affects people with arthritis, as arthritis can be a symptom of celiac diseaseHowever most studies that have been done have not led to any decisive results one way or the other, so again unless your a celiac or other gluten related illnesses you will likely be fine if you carry on eating sandwiches.

It seems it is not unhealthy to give up gluten as long as you still eat a good balanced diet.  It is quite common to find your self facing a fibre deficiency as you have given up a lot of fibrous foods. You also have to be aware of your Iron intake as well as B-vitamins as a lot of cereals and pastas tend to be fortified with vitamins and minerals. This isn't the case for everyone but it is always good to be aware of what you might be missing out on.

If you think you are thinking of going gluten free you should check with your doctor so they can diagnose you.

In conclusion it seems that giving up gluten when you are not intolerant wont lead to any health problems. You just need to be aware of what nutrients you may be missing out on.

On the other side, the effects of giving up gluten are the same as other diets giving up fatty and sugary foods. So if you can keep it up long term you will likely lose weight and may even feel better for it. Just don't solely blame gluten.

So if you want to be healthier cook all the food you eat yourself, avoid sugary snacks, drink more water and of course you want to exercise at least once a week

Stay healthy and if you enjoyed this please give it a share!