Jillian Michaels: Does your metabolism prevent you from losing weight?

Most of us have had occasion to cast an envious look towards the skinny body of a colleague or friend that seems to be able to eat just about anything without any visible consequences. “Great metabolism.” we say, as if we know exactly what we are talking about. Open a magazine, watch TV, and surf the internet and you are confronted with hundreds of products claiming to know the secret to boosting your metabolism. Scientists have made huge progress in understanding how the human body works to nourish and protect itself, but they still have a long way to go for full understanding of this thing we call a metabolism. Still, we can benefit a lot from what they know already, and that is exactly where Jillian Michaels’ latest book, “Master Your Metabolism”, comes in. She explains the latest scientific research about the human metabolism in lay terms that everyone can understand.

Many of you will know Jillian Michaels as the stunning personal trainer star of “The Biggest Loser”; the competitive weight-loss reality TV show that is seen by nearly 15 million viewers every week of the season. “What does Jillian Michaels know about endocrinology?” I have heard said. Well, based on the information contained in this book, a fair bit. Sometimes a lay person can offer a much better or simpler explanation of very technical concepts than a scientist can. Medical professionals often complicate matters endlessly, precisely because of their in-depth understanding of the subject matter. In their eagerness to ensure factual correctness, they find it almost impossible not to give us an information overload. What we really need is just the basic information on how the metabolism works, what it is affected by, and directions for how we can use this knowledge to get those bodies we always wanted.

“Master Your Metabolism” is a very detailed book that contains personal memoirs, scientific explanations, and general common sense advice to get our weight loss efforts back on track. It explains how artificial additives and a toxic environment can actually sabotage our weight loss journeys. While it can be a bit difficult to get through all the detailed scientific information discussed earlier on in the book, it is worth it in the end. Jillian believes that the toxins in processed foods, modern farming methods, drugs and medications, and a polluted environment poison our bodies. This poisoning of our systems then result in hormonal imbalances and obesity. The three important secrets to permanent weight loss are: remove all toxins from your life as far as possible, replace toxic food with healthy foods, and re-balance your hormones by following a healthy lifestyle.

The effect of a faster metabolism is dramatically illustrated by Jillian’s own battle to stay thin. In order to maintain that wonderful body, she used to work out at least 8 hours a week, and stick to a severely calorie restricted diet of 1200 calories per day. It is no wonder she felt tired all the time! Since Jillian paid a visit to her endocrinologist and improved her hormonal balance; she now eats about 2000 calories per day and only works out 2-3 hours per week. Higher energy levels are a great indication that she is finally on the right track. For those of you getting excited about the reduced exercise time, note that “reduced exercise” still means three hours of strenuous exercise a week. Unfortunately for those of us that don’t like exercise – it is absolutely key for a fast metabolism.

We have all heard the analogy that your metabolism is like a furnace to your body; the faster and hotter it burns, the more fuel you need just to satisfy your basic needs. The speed of your metabolism literally determines how easy it will be for you to lose fat and maintain your goal weight. In “Master Your Metabolism”, Jillian explains that our metabolisms are actually more like chemistry labs than furnaces. The speed of our metabolisms are determined by the balance of hormones in our bodies, and their interaction with each other. Normally when we refer to hormones, we refer to male and female sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. You may be surprised to know there are plenty of other hormones also active in your body, helping all sorts of systems to function. As Jillian states in her book: “Any and every body function you can imagine is controlled by your hormones.”

Our endocrine systems comprises of several glands that secrete signaling molecules, otherwise known as hormones. The endocrine system is responsible for regulating metabolism, growth, development and puberty. It also plays a role in determining our moods. Typical diseases of the endocrine system include conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease and obesity. Some of the hormones involved in the endocrine system include insulin, cortisol, ghrelin, testosterone, and leptin. The right balance of these hormones allows you to burn fat and build muscle. We all know that lean muscle mass is absolutely imperative in speeding up our metabolisms. Too much for me to discuss here, but in Master Your Metabolism, twelve active hormones and their functions are discussed in detail. After reading the book you will also understand how lack of sleep, yo-yo dieting and stressful lives affects the harmonious balances of the endocrine system, and how you can slowly become overweight even though you are living a relatively healthy life!

One of the main problem areas that contributed to hormonal imbalances in Jillian’s digestive system in the past was her strict adherence to a low fat diet. By excluding too much fat, she also excluded most of the good fats critical to the function of the endocrine system. One of Jillian’s other bad habits contributing to her metabolic challenges was her addiction to Diet Colas. Diet Colas are just wrong on so many levels, not the least of which is aspartame. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that by itself can cause considerable confusion in the metabolic system, not to mention that it is a known carcinogenic.

The three secrets to permanent weight loss according to Jillian Michaels are:

  • Remove –Get to know the enemy. Learn which ingredients upset the balance of your endocrine system, and how reduce their impact on your life. Some ingredients Jillian recommends to avoid completely and others she suggests you have less of. A stand out for me here was artificial sweeteners, so no more diet soda.
  • Restore – Learn which nutrients actually help your body maintain all its processes in perfect balance, and why it is so important to include them in your diet. These foods include old favorites such as legumes, alliums (e.g., onions, leaks, chives), lean meats and soluble fiber. Jillian is a strict believer in organic food. If it is processed in any way, shape or form, it is not good for you.
  • Re-balance – The last part gives practical advice on when and how much to eat. It demonstrates the importance of getting the right mix of fat, protein and carbohydrates. Many of these common sense tips we know, but it is good to be reminded every now and then.

The book includes for example instructions to eat every 4 hours, and it carefully explains how to read labels of store bought products to avoid toxins. Many of the commonly used ingredients in popular supermarket products can bring about considerable hormonal imbalances. The book is easy to use. It suggests shopping lists, a seafood safety list, lists of “always buy organic” and “sometimes buy organic,” as well as a list of hormone trigger foods. Also included are eating out strategies, quick and easy recipes, as well as mini programs for addressing PMS, metabolic syndrome and menopause.

While I won’t describe this as the best book I’ve ever read, it is enjoyable and very informative. It contains touching reflections on how weight problems affected Jillian in her life and practical recommendations on how to go about mastering your metabolism. Isn’t it comforting to know that even celebrities like Jillian sometimes find it hard to manage their weight, and that they are not just naturally thin? Jillian even admits to having tried a whole hoard of fad diets, and that she wasn’t always that fond of exercise; two statements many of us can identify with. It can be argued that this work is really nothing new, but just another explanation of what is currently regarded as “best practice” in the field of weight management. Maybe so, but Jillian Michaels does have considerable experience in helping many people to lose weight (very publicly so), which certainly affords her great insight into the issues involved.

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8 Responses to “Jillian Michaels: Does your metabolism prevent you from losing weight?”

  • Jillian Michaels is surely the biggest winner in running a business at the moment. She must be careful not to showcase rubbish products though as she says that the best path to fitness is good food and exercising.

  • I would like to say to Loren that she obviously doesnt remember or know that Jillian was once a big girl too so I am pretty sure she does understand how we feel. She has helped so many people lose weight she must be doing something right. Everyone is different so what might be good for one may not necessarily be good for another. I loved the book and have lost 20kg thanks to it so far!

  • I found this to be a great book and could identify with many Jillian’s history of yo-yo dieting. Too many of us went down that route only to end up with an impaired metabolism. Since I read this book, I eat much more than I did before, and have lost 14 pounds! I find the nutrition advice easy to follow. I am finding it a bit hard to reach my exercise goals , but that will come with time.

  • I just couldn’t get into the book. It was boring, and I also felt as if someone as thin as Jillian Michaels can’t really understand how we feel. Granted – she has been doing all sorts of fad diets and experimented on herself, and help other people lose weight, but I still think her view of life and mine are just too different. maybe that is why I didn’t like this book. Oh, and save me the memoir part. Who cares?

    If she really had the answer on how to boost the metabolism, she would have been a major sell out! Just another book throwing more theories around as to why there are so many overweight people. And I also don’t buy this organic thing. Should we all go back in time and stop using electricity? Technology is there for a reason.

  • Cheryl, I had the same problem with the organic foods. I find it ridiculously expensive and am not always so sure that organic standards are the same everywhere. You are never really sure what you are buying when it says organic. I follow the basic principles in the book and it works for me! So far I have lost 10 pounds! I eat more than I ever used to before and have much more energy. I must admit before this – I was an absolute sucker for any fad diet around. Have tried them all, including the dreaded lemon detox Diet and the Cabbage Soup Diet. LOL! I can definitely recommend this book by Jillian to everyone.

  • My only problem with the approach is the all organic. I am using many of the principles this approach is based on, but I really do not have the money for many of the products Jillian suggests should be organic. I do my best, but I am pragmatic in my approach, and so far it appears that it may actually be working. For the first time in about two years I am slowly but consistently losing weight again, and I am firmly resisting any quick fixes this time. the only way to lose weight permanently and still be able to enjoy your life is to get the metabolism up again. Mine got to be so slow, that I really didn’t lose weight, no matter how carefully I ate!

  • I just wanted to say that I loved this book – thank you! For the first time I really have a good understanding of why I gained back all the weight I lost on numerous fad diets in the past so quickly and without exception. I used to be absolute sucker for anything that promises to help you lose weight fast. I just couldn’t wait just a few months to do it properly. Always wanted to lose everything in a month. I have tried Herballife, the lemon detox diet, Atkins, you name it. All the weight came back, every time without exception. This time I am determined to lose all that fat for good. It is a pity that I allowed my metabolism to slow down so much, but it is never too late to learn new habits.

  • Hi, good post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for posting.

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