8 Ways to Boost Metabolism
You’ve probably heard at some point that you need to boost your metabolism, but what exactly is your metabolism? In a nutshell, metabolism refers to all the chemical processes your body employs to convert food, water, and fat stores into energy so that your body can run properly and maintain health.
Imagine what a metabolism fed a steady diet of over-processed carbs, fatty foods, and minimal water would do? Kind of like putting sludge in your car's gas tank, right? You wouldn't do that because you'd be off to the mechanic in a hurry! For your car engine to run smoothly, you have to put quality fuel in it at all times.
To keep your metabolism in tip-top shape means providing your body with the best nutrients and making sure it burns its own fat stores for energy as well. And, you have to stay hydrated. Not only will your body's systems run smoother, but you’ll be healthier, have more energy, and – for those who have been naughty to their bodies for too long – you will shed weight, too.
If you are feeling sluggish and you’ve noticed the pounds packing on, especially after the holiday season, here are some nutritional tips from the experts on how to optimize your metabolism.
1. Start Your Day with Lemon Water. Erin Clifford, a Chicago-based Holistic Wellness Coach, said, by doing this you will “ignite” your metabolism immediately. “Lemons help to increase your metabolic rate, which allows you to burn more calories and store less fat,” she said. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and Himalayan salt to power up the fat-burning processes even more.
2. Eat a Protein-Rich Breakfast within the First Hour of Waking. This basically jump-starts your metabolism by sparking thermogenesis (the metabolic process of digesting and transporting food). “By including a protein-rich source, such as eggs, protein powder, plain Greek yogurt, or raw nut butter, your energy levels will stay up and you will be satisfied until it is time for your next meal or snack,” Clifford said.
3. Drink Cold Water Through-out the Day. According to Rene Ficek, a registered dietician based in Seattle, “Drinking enough cold water throughout the day can actually raise a metabolism by around 50 calories per day,” she said. Researchers believe the increase may come from the work it takes to heat the water to body temperature. Another reason to drink more H2O? A University of Utah study found that those who drank eight to 12 glasses a day burned more calories than those who only had four.
4. Don’t Go Below 1,200 Calories. Cutting calories too much can actually have the opposite effect of weight loss. “Cutting calories to below 1,200 calories per day can put the brakes on your metabolism as the body slows down its processes in order to conserve energy,” Ficek warned. “It is necessary to eat enough calories to at least match your resting metabolic rate (RBM).” To discover your resting metabolic rate, find a Max Muscle Nutrition store near you that has an InBody Scan machine. It will accurately tell you your RBM, as well as your body composition (fat vs. lean muscle mass), and much more! Also, keep in mind: if you're restricting calories, make sure you have a cheat meal once a week to boost your metabolism and your happiness factor!
5. Spice It Up. “One of the best ways to satiate your appetite and boost your metabolism is by making the most of spices and herbs,” said Joey Thurman, a health, fitness, and nutrition expert, and the creator of The Lifestyle Renovation. He suggests using cayenne pepper, chili pepper, habanero, and other hot spices to rev up your metabolism by as much as 25 percent. Bonus, the capsaicin found in cayenne pepper, is a blood thinner, which can prevent blood-clotting diseases and is an anti-inflammatory for pain management. “It can help save your life,” he said.
6. Swap Out Toxic Fats for Natural Ones. Catherine Shanahan, MD, author of Deep Nutrition (MacMillan Publishers), and science consultant to the L.A. Lakers, said bad fats (those that are refined, bleached, and deodorized) are lurking everywhere. Bad fats include canola, corn, cottonseed, soy, sunflower, and safflower. “These fats work their way into foods that people think are healthy, like protein bars, granola, and gluten-free snacks,” she said. The problem is these substandard fats increase inflammation in your body, which makes it hard for the brain to communicate clearly to the rest of the body. Poor communication breaks down the metabolism process and inhibits the body's ability to use fat stores for energy. “Consuming toxic fats will deregulate your appetite, making you hungrier and more tired so you eat more and exercise less,” she explained. Good fats, such as avocado, coconut, olive oil, and omega 3s, promote healthy fat burning and helps your body use its own fat stores for energy.
7. Reduce Carb Intake. Nutrition experts differ in their opinions about how many carbs you should eat each day. But there is no question about good carbs vs. bad carbs. Overly processed foods like chips, crackers, candy, soda, etc. are bad carbs, a.k.a. the sludge in your gasoline tank. Whole grains, oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, etc. are good carbs. But still, “carbs are very easy to overeat,” Shanahan said. “It’s not that they are evil or we don’t need any of them in our diet, but they can be addicting.” She suggests keeping your carb intake to less than 50 to 100 grams a day so your body can use fat stores for energy. She also suggests getting your carbs in the evening so your glycogen stores (which she refers to as little suitcases) are packed and ready to go for the next day’s events.
8. Try Intermittent Fasting. Contrary to popular belief, some experts suggest that eating every three to four hours might actually hinder some individuals. If your current diet of eating five to six small meals a day isn’t working as well for you anymore, intermittent fasting might help. Try a “detox” day once a week where you only drink water and green smoothies. Or try skipping lunch every so often so you can have a larger breakfast or dinner. “When you don’t eat lunch, you’re teaching your body to tap into fat stores for energy,” Shanahan said. Worried about the hunger pains? Stay busy, chew some gum, or drink more water. “No pain, no gain – it’s kind of the same with your metabolism,” she said. “You’ve got to exercise your metabolism for it to work efficiently.
WHAT ABOUT FAT BURNERS?
“A good weight-loss program should focus on nutrition first and exercise second. Only then can a fat burner truly be beneficial,” said Scott Herkes, who owns two Quad Cities Max Muscle Nutrition stores (one in Iowa and one in Illinois). “A fat burner should be viewed as a tool to help accelerate fat loss, not as a panacea for weight loss.”
According to Herkes, fat burners are not all created equally. Some reduce appetite while others are thermogenic and increase feelings of energy and warmth to help you burn more calories (meaning they are boosting your metabolism). He said it’s important to speak with a certified nutrition expert to make sure you get the proper fat burner to match your lifestyle and preferences toward stimulants.
Max Muscle Nutrition has a full array of products to help enhance fat burning. To find out more about these products, visit your local Max Muscle Nutrition and speak with a Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach!
OTHER WAYS TO BOOST METABOLISM
According to Alan Hopkins, MD, Medical Director of Texas Metabolic Centers in Austin, TX, weight loss is not just a calorie thing, but a hormonal thing. “Stress, sleep problems, and the typical Western diet lead to significant hormone abnormalities,” he said. “These hormones, principally, insulin, produced by the pancreas, and cortisol, produced by our adrenal glands, are fat-fertilizers. When present in excess, the body’s metabolism is disrupted, leading to feelings of fatigue and irritability, and ultimately, weight gain.” Here are some tips to help regulate hormones, which will help boost your metabolism to burn more fat throughout the day.
Get More ZZZs. Lately, we keep hearing the benefits of sleeping more, but are we really listening? Sleep deprivation reduces alertness, increases your risk for disease, messes with your hormones, and worse, increases weight gain. Whereas, “proper sleep allows for essential hormones to reset and function optimally,” explained Dr. Hopkins. One example, he said, is cortisol, which is the get-up-and-go hormone that's typically excreted at low levels while you sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, cortisol will elevate. Increased levels of cortisol mean increased levels of insulin, which ultimately leads to abdominal fat storage. Ugh! So aim for eight hours of sleep each night.
Reduce Stress in Your Life. Stress boosts cortisol, which stores body fat and reduces your metabolism. Get this: a study published in Biological Psychiatry showed that when women experienced stressful events before a high-fat meal, their metabolisms slowed way down and it took their bodies much longer to burn calories and fat. Yikes! So, reducing stress is very important, but not with comfort foods. “Find a more productive way to de-stress like yoga, meditation, or even a hot bath,” suggested Ilana Muhlstein, a registered dietician who is working with A&E’s hit show, Fit to Fat to Fit. “Whatever you do, make sure that you never ever stress eat, because that just makes everything worse, both physically and emotionally.”
Try HIIT Workouts. High Intensity Interval Training is becoming wildly popular because you can exercise in a shorter amount of time and achieve greater benefits than you would from a steady, longer workout. “When muscles are stimulated through vigorous exercise such as HIIT, it releases hormones that help build more muscle mass,” said Steven McDaniels, director of fitness and athletics at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida. “Building muscle mass is crucial in that the more muscle you develop, the more calories you’ll burn” – and the faster your metabolism will run, even while you are at rest. He explained that traditional cardio at a steady pace might be a great way to get in some physical activity, but it is not a great way to rev up metabolism. MS&F