How to Boost Your Metabolism
Did you know our bodies are constantly burning calories, even when we’re at rest? Life sustaining activities like breaking down food, keeping your heart beating and breathing all cost calories. The sum of these calorie expenses is your metabolism, and while the rate at which we burn calories is mostly out of our control, determined by age, sex (lucky guys!) and genetics, there is still wiggle room for improvement. Boosting your metabolism can be a huge aid for loosing weight, if you use more calories than you consume you’ll lose weight, if you consume more than you use, you’ll gain weight. Simple. But back to the important part, by changing a few things you can increase your metabolism so you burn far more calories a day – this means you can lose weight without increasing exercise or decreasing the amount of calories you consume. Boosting your metabolism is as close to a magic diet pill as you can get.
Start your day off right by eating breakfast
Eating a nutrient-rich breakfast gets your engine going so it can keep going all day. The National Weight Control Registry has found that 78% of people who have lost a significant amount of weight eat a substantial breakfast everyday. If you don’t eat when you wake up your body has no sustenance, and your metabolism will start the day off at a snails pace. A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that volunteers who ate breakfast gained only 1.7 pounds on average over four years, those who didn’t eat it gained nearly three pounds!
You know that gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach when you’re hungry? That’s bad. It means your body is in ‘starvation’ mode and your metabolism has slowed right down. Nibbling throughout the day rather than gorging at meals, and then going hours without food, is the best way to keep your metabolism at its optimum rate. It will also help balance blood sugar levels, which will prevent the insulin spikes that can cause weight gain. Additionally, if you graze throughout the day you’ll consume much less at mealtime, resulting in consuming fewer calories each day. So snack, snack, snack!! Here are some great low calorie snack foods.
A good way to make sure you’re eating enough to keep you metabolism at its peak is to consume enough calories to match your resting metabolic rate (or basal metabolic rate, BMR). Your resting metabolic rate is the amount of calories your body needs to sustain normal life processes, such as keeping your heart beating, at rest. Your BMR is determined by a number of factors including, height, weight, age and sex. You can calculate yours here. Divide your BMR by 6 and try to consume this many calories every 3-5 hours.
Caffeine increases the amount of energy your body uses by stimulating the central nervous system, this increases your heart rate and breathing, resulting in an increased metabolism. A study in the journal, Physiology & Behavior, showed that drinking caffeinated coffee increased metabolic rate by 16% compared to decaf coffee. Energy drinks may have an even better effect on metabolism than coffee because they sometimes contain Taurine, an amino acid which can help burn fat and further boost metabolism.
Your body needs water to process calories, so when you’re dehydrated you can’t process them and your metabolism decreases. If you ever feel thirsty it means you’re already dehydrated and your metabolism has already slowed down, drinking 8 glasses of water a day will guarantee this doesn’t happen. In general, I’m a huge supporter of drinking plenty of ice-cold water every day, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. A study at the University of Utah found that people who drank eight glasses of water a day had a higher metabolic rate than those who only drank 4.
Enjoy your post exercise boost
Intense aerobic exercise has a hangover effect on your metabolism, it can remain elevated even hours after the workout. You really have to push yourself to achieve this though. Engage in high-intensity exercise, the kind where you can barely think let alone talk while you’re doing it. This sort of exercise will result in excess post exercise oxygen consumption, which will keep your metabolism at an elevated level for several hours. Stepping up the intensity of your workout also means you’ll burn the same number of calories in less time.
Interval training is the easiest way to increase the intensity of a workout. Interval training also means you will use more oxygen and your mitochondria (the power plant of your cells) will have to work harder. In response your body will produce more mitochondria, which will burn more calories throughout the day. So how do you do interval training? This can be done with any cardio workout – running, swimming, biking, and elliptical. Start at your normal pace, after 5 minutes go flat out for 60 seconds, then go back to normal for 120 seconds and repeat. You will not be able to workout for as long but your time will be much better spent. As well as increasing the intensity of your workout, the bust of speed may stimulate a fat-burning response.
Try more protein
More protein = more lean muscle mass. A pound of muscle at rest will burn around 35 calories a day. A pound of fat will burn about 3. Increasing the percentage of your body weight made up of muscle will increase your resting metabolic rate. What’s a good amount of protein? Try 30 grams, about the amount in a small chicken breast, 2-3 times a day. Protein also costs more calories to digest than fat or carbs, so eating a high protein diet means you expend more calories consuming your food, increasing metabolism. Great sources of protein include beef, turkey, fish, chicken, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, and dairy products.
Slow Strength Training
Start lifting weights so you can convert all of that protein you’re eating into muscle weigh! If you lift slowly (count to 3 for each exercise) you will increase the breakdown of your muscle. Repairing this muscle costs energy so it will boost your metabolism for up to 72 hours! Lifting weights for 30 minutes twice a week can increase your metabolism by 100 calories a day (though it’ll take 4-6 months to get to this point). Weight training is a great weight to prevent your metabolism from slowing down as you age due to muscle atrophy.
Miraculous Green Tea
Green tea contains ECGC, a compound that promotes fat burning. One study found that drinking 3-5 cups a day for 12 weeks reduced body weight by an average of 4.6 percent. Green tea also contains catechin, which may boost metabolism by improving fat oxidation and increasing the amount of energy you use to digest your food. A study suggests that 2-4 cups of tea a day may result in a 17% increase in calories burned during exercise.
Calcium increases your ability to metabolize fats efficiently by increasing how much fat you excrete – yeh, that kind of excretion. Having a calcium rich snack may help compensate for a fat filled binge earlier in the day.
Choose organic produce
Organochlorieds, chemicals found in pesticides, can accumulate in fat cells and disrupt your mitochondria and thyroid. Your thyroid is incredibly important because it acts as a thermostat by determining how fast your body runs. Disrupting your thyroid and mitochondria will inevitably lead to an inability to function correctly and slow down your metabolism. Eating organic foods without the pesticides will circumvent this issue.
Spice it up
Capsaicin is the active component in chili peppers that gives them their spicy quality. When you consume chili peppers the capsaicin activates your sympathetic nervous system, which increases heart rate, breathing and blood flow to your skeletal muscles. All this activity costs calories, so eating spicy foods containing capsaicin can boost your metabolism by up to 23% percent.
Iron helps your red blood cells deliver oxygen around the body, keeping you energized and your metabolism running smoothly. An iron deficiency can result in fatigue and a lack of energy, read: slow metabolism. So if you’re someone who struggles with anemia, or a woman (you’ll lose iron for about a week every month…) eating beans, dark leafy greens and cereals containing iron will help keep your metabolism in tip top shape.
A study in the journal, Obesity Research, found that when rats ingested fish oil while exercising they lost weight. The Omega-3 fatty acids in the fish oil help balance blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation, which helps to regulate metabolism. They may also play a role in resistance to a hormone called leptin that has been linked to obesity. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who took six grams of fish oil every day, and worked out 3 times a week, lost an average of 3.4 pounds in 12 weeks. Participants who exercised but did not take the fish oil, did not lose any weight. Look for daily omega-3 fatty acid supplements containing 1000 to 2000 milligrams.
Skip the trans fat
Trans fats have a unique shape that results in them binding to fat and liver cells which slows down your metabolism. Consuming trans fats can also increase resistance to insulin and inflammations, which decreases metabolism and causes weight gain. As if you needed another reason to avoid these guys…
Avoid Crash or Fad Diets
Many crash or fad diets involve consuming less than 1000 calories a day so you drop weight fast. Most of the pounds you lose, though, are from muscle, which as we mentioned before burns far more calories than fat. Reducing the percent of your body weight that is muscle will slow down your metabolism. Additionally, eating so few calories will transition your body to starvation mode and you will hang onto every calorie you eat.
Transform yourself into a fat burning machine by drinking water and green tea, consuming caffeine, snacking sensibly, interval training, weight lifting, eating more protein, calcium, organic food, iron containing food, spicy food and fish oil, and finally, not participating in crash diets or eating trans fats … is that all?
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- The Truth About Metabolism (everydayhealth.com)
- Basil Metabolic Rate (mcarter13.wordpress.com)
- Metabolism and Weight Loss (everydayhealth.com)
- Basal Metabolic Rate: Starting Point For Weight Loss Plan (diet4women.wordpress.com)