Metabolic Health

We know there’s a lot of discussion around metabolic health…what does it mean?  How does it relate to obesity? To the food we eat and the activities we do? We’re learning more and more everyday around what metabolic health means – below we’ve provided some of the most critical information you might want to know.

What is Metabolic Health?

January 11, 2023

Metabolic Health refers to the functioning of hormones and chemicals in your body.  When these are in-sync, you are much less likely to develop conditions like diabetes and chronic kidney disease.  Adipose, or fat, tissue can both be a result of having poor metabolic health and contribute to worsening metabolic health.  Unfortunately, fat tissue and poor metabolic health are mutually reinforcing with greater fat tissue contributing to poor metabolic health and poor metabolic health making it challenging to lose weight.

Metabolic health encompasses all aspects of our body’s metabolic processes, including how we store, process, and use energy from the food we eat.  It also involves how efficiently our bodes can create new cells or repair damaged ones, as well as how our hormones work.

Good metabolic health is essential for optimal physical and mental wellbeing. Poor metabolic health may lead to serious medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Our metabolism includes all of the chemical reactions that occur in our body on a daily basis which break down food into energy that can be used to fuel our activities. These reactions take place in different organs throughout our body with our liver and pancreas playing critical roles.

A healthy metabolism helps us control by keeping our hormone levels balanced, reducing tendency to overeat or crave certain foods. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels by sending signals between the brain and other bodily systems which indicate when enough glucose has been absorbed from food so that we don’t experience sudden spikes or drops in blood sugar levels which can cause fatigue or hunger pangs shortly after eating a meal.

In addition to controlling weight and regulating blood sugar levels, healthy metabolic processes also help reduce inflammation throughout the body which can prevent diseases like diabetes, heart disease and even some forms of cancer from developing over time. Healthy metabolism also plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin by producing collagen proteins which strengthen skin cells so that they’re more resistant to damage from sunlight or other environmental factors like pollution or smoke inhalation from cigarettes.

What are some of the Key Hormones Related to Metabolic Health?

January 14, 2023

Numerous hormones may impact – and may be impacted – by metabolic health and obesity but a couple of the ones that are considered most relevant are ghrelin, leptin, and cortisol.


Ghrelin is often known as the “hunger hormone” because it is the hormone that regulates appetite and energy metabolism.  It is produced mainly in the stomach and small intestine and plays and important role in metabolism, hunger, and energy balance.  High levels of ghrelin are associated with increased hunger, resulting in greater food intake.  Ghrelin is made by the stomach and obesity can significantly change levels of ghrelin.  Studies have also shown that individuals with obesity who diet experience greater ghrelin levels, making it challenging to maintain the diet and weight loss.


Leptin can be thought of as the counter to ghrelin – it is the hormone that regulates energy balance and suppresses food intake.  While individuals with obesity often show higher levels of leptin, some studies have shown that obesity may drive leptin “resistance” resulting in lower-than-expected appetite suppression.


Cortisol is often known as the “stress hormone” because cortisol levels rise in response to stress.  Higher levels of cortisol are associated with increased appetite and slower metabolism, which is why exposure to stress is believed to increase likelihood of obesity.  There is also some evidence that obesity changes responsiveness to cortisol levels, meaning that individuals with obesity may require a lower amount of cortisol to stimulate appetite and slow metabolism.

What Causes Obesity?

January 14, 2023

While the general perception of obesity is a simple one focused on calories and will-power, there is ample research to suggest that obesity is much more complex and affected by both genetics and environment.  That is not to say that healthy eating and physical activity are not important just that they are one piece – and often a small piece – of the puzzle.

Obesity & Genetics

Genetic and epigenetic factors can make someone pre-disposed to obesity, for example, by affecting how the body processes and stores fat as well as how it regulates appetite and metabolism.  Some studies have shown that obesity is more prevalent in individuals with certain DNA variants, others have shown impact of specific gene changes, and still others have shown that hormonal composition can be passed down from parent to child – so the child of a parent with obesity may start out with different levels of ghrelin and leptin, resulting in a worse ability to regulate appetite.

Obesity & Environment

Obesity has also been linked to environmental factors such as prevalence of stress and quality of sleep.  Stress and sleep quality increase inflammation in the body and cortisol levels, both of which have been shown to affect that ability to affect hunger and metabolism.  Like metabolic health overall, there appears to be self-reinforcing dynamic where increased inflammation and cortisol levels support prevalence of obesity and obesity impacts the effect of these changes.

Role of Diet & Exercise

While most individuals who pursue diet & exercise do not achieve sustainable weight loss, that is not to say that diet and exercise are not important in maintaining healthy weight – and health in general.  Eating a healthy diet and maintaining activity levels can increase energy levels.  In addition, processed foods and diets high in sugar and high fructose corn syrup can cause metabolic dysregulation, harming the body’s ability to regulate appetite and metabolism.  Exercise has also been shown to improve cardiovascular health and increasing muscle mass can support a healthy metabolism.