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4 Bio-Hacks That Transformed My Perimenopausal Weight

Carly Gallagher is no ordinary Naturopath; she’s a modern-day alchemist. Founder of Inner-Alchemy, she has fused Yoga, Food, and Healing into her own transformative metabolic practice for peri-menopausal and menopausal women.

 
Executive Contributor Carly Gallagher

Feel like no matter what you do, losing weight is a mission impossible once you hit 40? You're not alone. The struggle with uncontrollable weight gain in peri-menopause is real for many of us women. But hey, there's hope. I've unearthed 4 transformational steps to help you lose weight after 40 that I honed through an in-depth exploration of my metabolism akin to a NASA scientist's scrutiny. Whether you're new to the battle or you've been fighting it for a while, these tips are not your usual stuff. Because let's face it, those 'usual' strategies just don't cut it. Let me show you how I bio-hacked my metabolism and transformed my weight during perimenopause.


Young dietician taking waist measurements of her senior patient during appointment at a bright office

What is bio-hacking?

'Houston,' we have a problem! As I approached 40, my body went through a sudden change. I gained 6 kg (about 13 pounds) in a year. Like many others, I struggled to stop uncontrollable weight gain and initially tried the "eat less, exercise more" approach. That didn't work!


Frustrated, I set off and conducted extensive research (also known as bio-hacking) on my body and women in general. Using tools to track and measure my stats such as Whoop, Food Tracking, Bio-impedance scales, my trusted tape-measure along with Pathology, I studied how I responded to things such as calories, macros, different types of food, exercise, hormone changes, and stress. I realized that women's bodies require a vastly different approach as we age. I discovered that abandoning the conventional methods and taking a completely different tactic got amazing results. Over 2 years, I tested and developed a new strategy, and found that my weight and my stats responded positively – I was in shock. Nothing had worked before and now it was working! Even better, I was able to maintain my weight without actively trying. This was incredible, considering that most women, including me, expect weight gain from even minor indulgences like a glass of wine or a weekend getaway.


What common issues do we all have?

Our battleground is the same. Surveying my clients reaffirmed that we all struggle with the same issues at this age. A common frustration is not knowing what to eat or how to exercise to make a difference. It's not through lack of trying. All of my clients are motivated to get results and were focused on eating healthy and getting in exercise already, but like me, they could not see any results. Most clients were in their 40s and 50s, busy working mums like me, running a household or kids and doing their best to look after themselves. Some had sleep issues, some had gut issues, and most had fatigue.


What is the ‘stress bucket’?

The key element that I kept finding in all cases was what I refer to as the 'Stress Bucket'. Stress can come from many places, such as emotional, physical, and environmental. When these stressors accumulate in our bodies, they impact how we function and especially how our metabolism responds. We all hear how 'Stress' is bad for us but fail to comprehend where all our 'stressors' come from and how it's impacting our metabolism, and ultimately, how to fix them. The other important factor to ensure we nail is doing the things that turn on our 'Fat Burning Hormones' and stopping doing the things that do not. Our priority is switching on the right hormones and mitigating the impact of the wrong ones.


My key four steps to ultimate success 


1. Let's talk food

We all love our food but often neglect important principles. I previously experimented with intermittent fasting without fully understanding the nuances behind it. I assumed that simply skipping a meal and reducing my calorie intake would work. Little did I know that consuming too few calories can have a counterproductive effect, causing the body to enter what I call "starvation mode" and hold onto fat for survival. Here's what I learned:


  • You shouldn't eat fewer calories than your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). Your body needs a certain amount of calories to meet its basic survival needs. For instance, I used the Harris-Benedict Calculator to find my BMR is 1200 calories a day. When I tried an 800-calorie diet or skipped breakfast, it slowed down my metabolism. I discovered this was because I dropped below my BMR.

  • The key is to eat enough to support vital functions like the heart, brain, and breathing without putting your body into 'starvation' mode (calorie deficit), which adds to our Stress Bucket.

  • I've noticed that many women skip breakfast or do intermittent fasting, thinking that skipping a meal is the goal. However, intermittent fasting only works if you eat all your calories (at least your BMR) within an 8-hour window. This is an important point for all the ladies out there!

  • Remember to focus on eating good quality food rather than obsessing over counting calories. Try to eat whole foods and avoid packaged ones with unhealthy sugars and inflammatory seed oils. It's surprising how many so-called healthy foods contain harmful stuff!

  • Prioritize getting enough proteins and fats and cut back on carbs. For instance, switching to a paleo diet and keeping my carbs between 60-80g a day helped me reduce inflammation and stop gaining weight. I made sure to fill my plate with phytonutrient-rich foods, basically eating the rainbow, and stuck to my carb target. I kept a food journal to track my calories and macros every day to see how they affected my weight.


2. Rest-based training – my turning point

I was really into working out – I'd do HIIT, weights, running, boxing, and spinning all the time. But then I learned the hard way that overdoing it messed up my metabolism. I was pushing myself too hard and ended up stressed, injured, and inflamed, which derailed my weight loss goals. I used to think that exercising more was the key to losing weight, but I was wrong. I was following a super intense workout routine and ended up with a bad hip injury. That's when I realized I needed to find a better balance in my exercise routine in terms of intensity and type. This was the hardest part of my weight loss journey – dealing with the mindset of doing less. Over the space of a year, I went from Gym Junkie to Yogi and finally landed somewhere in between.


What I discovered:


  • Yoga and Walking are not enough. Transitioning to yoga and even becoming a yoga teacher, I thought it would help me reduce my stress bucket and lose weight. Even though it did help with stress, it didn't speed up my metabolism or help with weight loss. I was all in on yoga, only to find out that it doesn't kickstart the fat-burning hormones needed to lose weight. Likewise, I dabbled in the 10,000 steps of walking a day thing I see a lot of women do. Apart from this being also great for my stress bucket, it did nothing for my weight loss.

  • Metabolic Exercise was the perfect balance. As part of my research, I discovered that most exercise studies were based on men. When I came across this cool exercise approach called ‘'metabolic exercises,' I was pleasantly surprised to find something designed for women that focuses on hormones. These workouts are short and intense (just 15 minutes, three times a week) and can be done at home. They're all about targeting female hormonal changes to stimulate fat-burning without causing too much stress. Using these exercises and, on off days, sticking to my yoga or walking, I ended up losing weight, building muscle, and saving money by skipping the gym. I had the hardest time believing that these workouts would be enough, but guess what? They are. The best part is that I've got way more time to enjoy life now. No more struggling through traffic to make it to a gym class – now I get to go for walks on the beach with my dog and husband. My quality of life has improved way more than I thought it would.


3. Other hormonal roadblocks 

Our hormones, especially during perimenopause and menopause, have a big impact on managing our weight. Most off-the-shelf weight loss diets or exercise programs don't take these into account. Here are the main areas to focus on:


  • Insulin, Estrogen & Cortisol don’t play nice. Ladies, it's important to grasp how insulin, cortisol, and estrogen all work together. Understanding this can help us figure out what we can change and what we simply need to accept. As estrogen levels drop during menopause, our ability to process sugars diminishes. This means that consuming a lot of carbs or sugary foods, especially when we're stressed, can cause weight gain in the midsection. Although we can't stop menopause, we do have some control over the amount of insulin and cortisol our bodies release. One way to do this is by cutting back on carbs and minimizing stress. This highlighted just how critical getting the macros is and not overdoing it exercising.

  • Key nutrients must not be over-looked. So, here's the deal – when the scale goes up and down and up again, we often make some common mistakes. One big issue is not getting enough of the right nutrients. A lot of folks don't realize they might be low on important stuff like iron, B12, vitamin D, selenium, magnesium, and zinc. These nutrients are super important for things like making hormones, keeping energy levels up, supporting the immune system, and helping with metabolism. If we don't get enough of these nutrients because of a bad diet or poor digestion, it can lead to long-term inflammation in the body, basically making the immune system go all haywire. And that's not good for our health or metabolism, so it's really important to focus on keeping our gut healthy and avoid foods that might mess it up. When our hormones are out of whack, it can mess with our metabolism. I mean, think of our body's major hormone pathways - like our stress hormones (cortisol), thyroid, and sex hormones - as the legs of a wobbly stool. If one hormone pathway is off, it can throw the others out of balance, causing all kinds of metabolic issues. It might sound surprising, but the key to getting those wobbly "legs" stable and balanced is by taking care of our gut.

  • Our gut health is our foundation for hormonal balance. This is just another critical reminder about the importance of gut health. The gut isn't just for digesting food – it also helps with managing stress, supporting the immune system, and regulating mood. When your gut health is poor, it can lead to inflammation and stress throughout the body, which can mess with your hormones. Taking care of your gut can improve how your body absorbs nutrients, lower your stress levels, and help keep your metabolism in check. This sets up a solid foundation for successful long-term weight loss. I introduced essential naturopathic supplements with a specific focus on supporting the integrity of the lining of my gut, increasing digestive sufficiency, and adding key metabolic probiotics to increase diversity.

  • Incorporate powerful herbs to support metabolic function. As a herbalist, I delved deeper into the role of herbs in metabolic support and discovered the remarkable benefits of green tea. This led me to expand my Inner-Alchemy herbal tea range with a new metabolic blend designed for weight loss support called LAKSMI. This green tea is rich in polyphenols and features gut-healing and blood sugar-balancing herbs like Licorice, Gymnema, and Hibiscus.


4. Becoming ‘fat adapted’

Fat adaptation is a ‘method’ I also played with and got some astounding results. It can boost your energy, curb cravings, clear your mind, increase stamina, and help with weight loss. Fat adaptation means your body can turn fat into energy instead of always needing carbs or glucose. When your insulin levels are low, like when you're intermittent fasting or on a low-carb diet, your body breaks down fatty acids into ketone bodies, which it uses for energy. This process helps you burn stored fat more efficiently. You can still achieve fat adaptation with 60-80g of carbs a day without a strict keto diet. Most importantly, this approach doesn't starve the good gut bacteria, finding a balance between carbs and fat. It generally takes about four weeks to achieve fat adaptation. Once your body is adapted, it can efficiently switch between burning glucose and fat, allowing you to indulge occasionally without messing up your progress. This means you can enjoy social events or vacations without feeling guilty or gaining a bunch of weight.


I found the best way to do this was to approach it like retraining the body to use stored fat as a primary energy source through specific strategies: 


  • Fasting for 14-16 hours overnight

  • Exercising in this ‘fast’ state early morning before breakfast

  • Reducing daily carbohydrate intake between 60-80 grams

  • Increasing the intake of healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oils

  • Using MCT oil in coffee during your fast period in the morning.


Transform your aging metabolism into a new ‘younger’ one

After discovering and applying these techniques, I finally managed to maintain my weight long-term without sacrificing my social life or sense of freedom. Embracing fat adaptation in my weight management approach has been particularly effective, especially when combined with a focus on nutrition, exercise, and gut health. Eight years later, my method is still going strong. I've shared it with hundreds of my female clients, and they've all found it surprisingly easy and transformative. I call it "Metabolic Alchemy" as a nod to my alchemist brand and the incredible changes it brings to everyone who tries it. 


As a Naturopath focused on women's health for the past 25 years, this methodology has been my most inspiring. ‘Metabolic Alchemy’ can be achieved in just 4 weeks, combining key transformational steps, tools, and instructions with my dedicated one-on-one coaching. No other weight loss program integrates the elements of naturopathy, nutrition, and exercise quite like this. I’m inspired daily by the amazing transformations and real stories of women. If you’d like to transform your weight loss journey with my methodology and coaching, join women just like you and rediscover confidence, freedom, and control.


Metabolic Alchemy is here for you!


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and visit my website for more info!

 

Carly Gallagher, Weight Loss Naturopath Nutritionist

Carly Gallagher is revolutionizing weight loss and health for women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. Nearly a decade ago, she faced the same battle with uncontrollable weight gain, stumbling through countless failures before unlocking the secrets of aging metabolisms. With 25 years of experience as a Naturopath, Carly has redefined old paradigms and created her own metabolic solution, helping hundreds of women along the way. In 2016, she founded Inner-Alchemy, uniting her passions for Yoga, Food, and Healing. Now, she's set to launch her signature Metabolic Alchemy solution globally, transforming women's lives by reshaping the approach to weight loss.

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