How to Give your Metabolism a Natural Boost
16 October 2015
Slaving away inside your body—right this minute—is your very own personal trainer working tirelessly to help you burn calories and shed fat. It's called your metabolism, and it's the sum of everything your body does. Each time you eat, enzymes in your body's cells break down the food and turn it into energy that keeps your heart beating, your mind thinking, and your legs churning during a gruelling workout. A fast metabolism means more calories burned. The more you burn, the easier it is to drop pounds. To some degree, our bodies operate at a pre-set speed determined by genetics, age, gender, and body size, there are some lifestyle changes that can, quite literally, speed up the process. So you can't affect how many calories it takes to keep your heart beating, but you can burn an extra 500 to 600 calories a day by exercising properly and eating right, and by making a few changes to your routine.
Even tiny adjustments to a person’s metabolic rate can add up to significant health benefits over time!
Here are my top 12 ways to give your metabolism a natural boost.
Embrace Cooler Temperatures
Studies have shown that sleeping in a cool room seems to increase people’s percentages of brown fat — a type of fat that acts more like muscle, thereby helping to burn other fat and increasing metabolic rate. Keeping your home or office cool during the day may also have a similar effect.
Keep Stress Levels Low
Even if stressful situations don’t cause you to binge on fatty foods, your body may take longer to process any calories that you do eat. When we experience high levels of stress, our bodies release the hormone cortisol which has been clearly associated with a worsening of metabolism and, weight gain in the long-run.
Get a good Night’s Sleep.
Not getting enough quality sleep can slow metabolism in both men and women. When you sleep less than you should, you throw off the amounts of leptin and ghrelin—hormones that help regulate energy use and appetite—that your body produces. This also may have to do with the brain’s secretion of cortisol when the body is under stress (remember, lack of sleep is a type of stress to our bodies too). Even if you go to bed early, be sure to give yourself enough hours to get the rest and recovery your body needs. Broken sleep isn’t nearly as restorative as seven consecutive hours, and can still leave you feeling overtired and your metabolism sluggish.
Give Strength Training a Try
Any type of physical activity — even just walking for 30 minutes — can help speed up metabolism, (Anything is better than sitting for hours, which is one of the worst things you can do.) But the kind of exercise that works best to activate brown fat and rev up our metabolism is strength training. By increasing muscle mass, we can increase our resting energy expenditure, which is what’s going to help us burn calories all day long. Try adding some weights into your workout regimen and see if you notice a difference. Consider bigger lifts as well if your body is trained for it.
Eat (a good) breakfast
Eating a good breakfast ensures that your body doesn’t go into starvation mode. This causes your metabolism to slow down dramatically in order to conserve energy. The heartier your first meal is, the better.
So what should you be having? Foods that are slow to digest and leave you feeling fuller longer are always top of my list. Try a mix of lean protein with complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, such as an egg white omelette cooked in coconut oil, chia pudding, steel-cut oats with almond butter, or smashed avocado stacked over 100% rye bread.
Enjoy your Coffee
Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system by increasing your heart rate and breathing, which in turn boosts your metabolism. A good cup of coffee first thing in the morning will actually benefit you because the caffeine assists with your body’s natural fat burning process. But remember, don’t go overboard! Too many caffeinated beverages a day can cause nervousness, nausea or insomnia, and some coffee beverages are also high in fat and sugar.
Drink Cold Water
As you wake up, drink a glass of ice-cold water. Your body may burn a few calories heating the cold water to your core temperature. Even though the extra calories you burn drinking a single glass doesn't amount to much, making it a habit can add up to fat lost with essentially zero additional effort.
Pick protein for lunch
Cramming protein into every meal helps build and maintain lean muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories than fat does, even at rest. Aim for about 30 grams of protein per meal - the equivalent of approximately one cup of cottage cheese or a single boneless chicken breast.
Switch up Ceylon for some Green Tea
Green tea is an incredible metabolism booster. It contains a plant compound called ECGC, which promotes fat burning. Research shows that consuming two to four cups of green tea per day may torch an extra 50 calories. For maximum effect, let your tea steep for three minutes and drink it while it's still hot.
Undo Damage with Calcium
There are days when no salad on earth can possibly overcome the seductive power of your favourite burger. But you can make up for it by enjoying calcium-rich foods such as spinach, almonds, green beans, broccoli and kale. Calcium helps your body metabolize fat more efficiently by increasing the rate at which it gets rid of fat as waste.
Choose organic produce
Try where possible to enjoy organic foods. Researchers have demonstrated that dieters with the most organochlorides (chemicals found in pesticides) stored in their fat cells were the most susceptible to disruptions in mitochondrial activity and thyroid function. In other words, their metabolism stalled. Can't afford a full organic swap?
Load up on the Spices
It turns out capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their bite, can also fire up your metabolism. Eating about one tablespoon of chopped red or green chilies boosts your body's production of heat and the activity of your sympathetic nervous system (responsible for our fight-or-flight response). When we eat spicy food, we can temporarily boost our metabolism by 23 percent. Stock up on cayenne pepper, chillies, and curry powder, and start adding these to your meals.
Yours in Health Always,