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  • Dr Nicola Lowth

My Journey to a Functional Metabolism

I’m driving home from swimming on a normal Friday morning when my dad calls:

“Nic, I have something exciting to tell you about. We have been asked to be involved in a project that I think you might be really interested in. It’s a metabolic testing machine.”

I am tired and hungry, and my immediate thoughts are how on earth will this be of benefit to me? The nutrition sceptic in me comes out:

“It sounds interesting Dad, but how accurate is the testing?“

“I’m not sure Nic but they are keen to meet with you and show you how it works.”

My mind is flooded with skepticism.

I have been working in a busy private clinic now for nearly six years and to be honest have come to the point where I am questioning my career choice. I can see the desperate struggle that many of my clients are facing and I am just not sure whether I have the skills to be able to help them. I am also feeling a bit lost, perhaps bored with what I am doing, perhaps losing my passion. I start looking into training in another health-related field. Perhaps massage? Bowen therapy? Acupuncture? I have studied for 8+ years for this do I really want to give this away?

The following Wednesday I meet with the team at Metabolic Health Solutions (MHS). They are so generous with their time, explaining the testing procedures in detail and even running a metabolic test on me. To my absolute horror the results show that I have poor metabolic function. My results are well outside of the normal range. I am a fit and healthy nutrition professional; this surely cannot be correct. I leave the clinic that morning feeling frustrated, confused, doubtful about the accuracy of the testing but there’s also a rumbling excitement in me to understand more. I spend the next few weeks going back through my basic biochemistry and physiology to try to understand what could possibly be going on for me.

I start to work on making a few changes to my own diet. I have been training as an endurance swimmer and triathlete since my early teens. My carbohydrate intake has always been high and fat intake low to support my training. This is the first time I have started to question whether this diet is working for me. I am a huge sweet-tooth and am constantly thinking about food, never feeling satisfied and can’t easily go longer than two hours without a snack. I’ve also been suffering from amenorrhea since my teenage years and have had every test under the sun done without answer. Could this all be linked?

The more Biochemistry I learn the more excited I become. For the first time in my career, I am really starting to understand the hormonal and biochemical impact that food can have on metabolic function. I am over the moon to find out the following week that MHS would like to give me a machine to start using. Amazing! I am thrilled! I start testing myself regularly and am astonished to find that altering my macronutrient intake slightly is starting to improve my functioning. Within four months my metabolic function is within normal, my sugar cravings have gone, I am rarely thinking about food and I have a stability in energy like never before. But the most amazing result for me was that my periods, which for the last 10 years had been so irregular, were now, after only 4 months, starting to become normalised. This was a career changing moment for me and I was super excited to bring this testing into my clinic to help others.

The following week I started testing clients and was somewhat shocked to find out that most of the clients that walked into my clinic had a similar glucose dependent metabolism to me. This was not how humans are supposed to be fueling. Exercise physiologist textbooks are telling us that humans are natural fat burners which is not what I am seeing at all. Is there any wonder people are feeling constantly hungry, moody, craving sugar plus have depleted energy levels? I continue to research and refine my understanding of metabolism and am put in contact with an incredible network of health professionals. I am excited! My passion for nutrition is restored!

I have now been using metabolic testing in my clinic for the last six years and it truly has redefined the way I work with clients. It is so motivating for clients to see how small consistent changes to their diet can have considerable effects on their metabolism. Coupled with body composition analysis I now have an objective measure to help clients along their journey to better health. I am so grateful for that phone call from my dad six years ago and for the incredible work of MHS in bringing this technology into my clinic.

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