What is metabolism?
Our metabolism is the pace at which our body burns calories for energy. Our metabolic rate is the number of calories we burn. It is all the chemical reactions that keep our body functioning. Those chemical processes are necessary to maintain life.
We have no control over the genetic aspects of our metabolism. We hear that someone has a high metabolism and another a low metabolism. It all depends on several factors such as sex, body, age, muscle mass, activity, body fat and finally genetics.
However, we can help control how our body processes calories. The higher the speed of our metabolism, the more we burn calories. This helps us maintain a healthy weight.
So how do you speed up your metabolism naturally? Here are some effective ways you can increase your metabolism.
What to eat?
Good news! Eating increases our metabolism and it is very important to daily eat enough calories. When we skip a meal, our brain gets the message that there is a problem. Our body starts storing fat cells for survival and slows down burning calories. Our metabolism drops so that we don’t burn too much energy. Eating at regular times helps maintain a healthy metabolic rate. Eating 3 to 4 balanced meals per day is ideal.
Women need to eat 1600 to 2400 calories per day depending on their height and weight and their physical activities. As for men, they need between 2000 and 3000 calories.
The thermic effect of food (TEF) requires extra calories to digest, absorb and process the nutrients. Protein speeds up our metabolic rate by 15%-30%, causing the largest rise in TEF! Carbs 5-10% and Fats 0-3%.
Eating protein also prevents us from overeating because it helps us feel full. We eat fewer calories per day when our diet is made up of 30% of protein.
A common side effect of fat losing diets is muscle loss therefore it drops our metabolism. Since eating more proteins prevents muscle loss, it boosts up our metabolism because muscle gain makes us burn extra calories.
Spice up your food!
Capsaicin, the substance found in hot peppers, speeds up the metabolism. However, the dose should be quite high to have a significant effect in weight loss. Eating peppers during a meal makes us burn 10 extra calories. That is little but it is very advantageous when combined with other boosting metabolism methods and foods!
Why not start cooking with coconut oil? In fact, coconut oil is high in medium-chain fats that contribute in increasing your metabolism and higher energy levels. Processed by the liver, MCFA’s are more digestible and quickly turned into energy and not fat unlike long-chain fats found in butter. The coconut oil must be ‘virgin’, unrefined. The latter comes from fruit component of coconuts and is obtained without the use of chemicals.
Also, the inside meat of the fruit is full of protein which as seen above burns extra calories and is composed of 90% heart-healthy saturated fats!
What do bananas, eggs, whole grain foods have in common? B vitamins!
B vitamins help your body metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins and uses the stored energy in food. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) helps cells convert carbohydrates into energy.
What to drink?
You’ve heard it: ‘drink 1.5L of water to stay hydrated!’. Not only water is essential for hydration but it is also a must to increase your metabolism. It boots it up by 10%-30% for about an hour whenever you drink 0.5 liters of it. Drinking water before a meal fills you up so you end up eating less.
Moreover, drinking it cold makes your body use more energy to heat it up to body temperature
Green tea has metabolism-boosting properties. It is known to convert stored-fat into free fatty acids, increasing fat burning by 10%-15%. That is why green tea extract is used in weight-loss pills. Low in calories, you can drink it instead of plain water so you still get enough necessary fluid in your body.
Are you a coffee lover?? I am!! Growing up I kept on hearing that drinking too much coffee wasn’t good. Now, studies show how healthy caffeine is?! Two of its benefits are burning fat and increasing our metabolic rate. However, unlike green tea and water, coffee dehydrates. For each cup of coffee I drink, I also drink one glass of water to stay hydrated.
What to do?
Resistance training (lifting heavy things) increases our metabolism because muscles burn more calories than fat. So the more muscle mass you get the more energy you preserve and boost up your metabolism. Even at rest, you keep on burning calories. The problem about losing weight without doing strength training is that you lose muscle mass and your metabolism drops.
You gain more muscles by lifting weights or using your own body weight when exercising.
High Intensity workout
A HIIT (high intensity interval training) mixes quick and intense bursts of exercises and lower intensity ones. For example, you can alternate jumping jacks for 45 seconds and a low impact exercise such as walking for 1 minute. Like lifting weights, it is very effective to speed up your metabolic rate and you keep on burning fat after you train.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Our metabolism is a set/chain of chemical reactions as explained earlier. Hormones play a very important role when we talk about health and how we feel! When we don’t sleep enough, we release the ‘ghrelin’ hormone, the hunger hormone that makes us feel hungry. On the other hand, the fullness hormone ‘leptin’ that makes us feel full, is decreased. By keeping these hormones balanced, we make sure we don’t feel hungry and overeat.
We need at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Some people need less.
Lack of sleep also increases our stress.
When stressed out, it raises our cortisol hormone level. Abnormal cortisol levels provoke eating disorders such as overeating because cortisol is a hormone that regulates our appetite. Disordered eating patterns are unhealthy and affect our metabolism.
Stand up regularly
Sitting for long hours drops our metabolic rate simply because we don’t burn that many calories when inactive. It is even said nowadays to be as bad as smoking. When I worked in an office, I tried to stand up and move as often as possible. I did some simple stretches while sitting too.
There are many ways we can speed up our metabolism. From getting more sleep to lifting weights, eating more protein to drinking green tea, making small healthy lifestyle changes can not only help burn more fat but also will increase our energy thus make us feel better.