No matter where you are or what you are doing, nutrition and diet always seems to come up in the conversation (especially when people find out I’m a dietitian lol). I get asked the question all the time on how to boost metabolism. Everyone wants a faster one, but do you really know what your metabolism is and what it does?
By definition, metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. Calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function.
Even when you are sleeping, your body needs energy just to keep breathing, circulating the blood, growing and repairing cells and proper organ function.
The number of calories your body needs each day to carry out these functions is known as your basal metabolic rate or BMR … or simply metabolism. Typically, 70% of the calories we consume each day will go towards taking care of the body’s basic needs. With that said, there are several factors that will determine your own individual BMR, most of which are based on how much or little lean mass you have. These include:
Body Size and Composition:
People who are larger (both in height and weight) will burn more calories than smaller individuals – by default, they will have more muscle, just to carry their weight around.
Male vs. Female
Because men naturally tend to have more muscle then women, they will burn more calories than women of the same age and weight.
As we get older, we tend to become more sedentary and workout less, which results in less lean muscle and more body fat, thus slowing down calorie burn.
Although no magic bullet exists to spontaneously increase your metabolism, there are a few things you can do to naturally help boost the process.
Reset the body’s thermostat by building some muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn at rest. Muscle is also sleeker than body fat, so even though you may weigh a little more (muscle weighs more than fat), your clothing size will shrink.
HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is when you alternate short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods. In other words, it’s a hard and fast workout lol. The benefits of this type of exercise, is that even hours after your workout has ended, your body is still benefiting by burning calories.
These heart-healthy fats have been shown to reduce inflammation, which help regulate how efficiently our body is able to work. Common sources of Omega-3 fats are salmon, enriched eggs, flax and walnuts.
Green Tea instead of Coffee
Not only is green tea full of antioxidants, but one of the active ingredients, has been shown to increase the body’s ability to break down fat and actively burn more calories.
Eat to Lose
This is the hardest concept for most people to grasp. Even though at the end of the day, you want to consume less calories than you burn, you cannot starve yourself and expect to lose weight. During long periods of no food, your system will slow down to try and conserve energy. Eating every 3-4 hours throughout the day while still controlling your calorie intake is the key.
It takes longer to digest protein than it does fat or carbs, which allows us to feel fuller longer. It will also give your metabolism a boost, by making it work harder. Our body uses about 10% of the calories we eat to digest our food, and because it takes more time to digest protein, we burn more calories just getting the nutrients from it. Another plus is that lean protein has been shown to help preserve lean muscle mass, which we all know burns more calories at rest.
Eating breakfast is an easy way to wake the system up and actively start burning calories. Make sure and include some lean protein such as eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu, etc., to feed those muscles we are trying to grow 🙂
Eliminate Trans Fats
Trans fats are man-made fats known as hydrogenated oils. These can be found in processed foods, shelf-stable peanut butter and packaged cookies and cake mixes. They are also found naturally in red meat. These altered fats force the liver to work harder, making it more difficult for your metabolism to function properly.
Lastly, making sure to give the body enough water each day is an important component of overall health, and may give the body’s metabolism a slight boost. Consuming more water helps increase the efficiency of the cells. It will contribute to overall blood volume, which will allow more oxygen and nutrients to reach the cell, and aid the body in eliminating waste products.
So even though there is no wonder drug we can take to magically boost our metabolism, there are many things we can do each day to help it along. Start the day with breakfast, eat real food, drink water, and exercise … hmmmm I bet you’ve never heard any of that before right?
Make it a healthy day!