I think before we talk about easy ways to increase metabolism we should first define metabolism and get a better understanding of what metabolism is and how it can be affected by lifestyle choices. Wikipedia defines metabolism as:
“the set of chemical reactions that occur in living organisms to maintain life” Whole textbooks could be written about metabolism and all the different chemical processes that occur. But, basically for the purpose of this article we are concerned about the body's ability to convert the food we eat to energy to be used during activities of daily living or in some cases to be stored as fat. We all know people who for whatever reason seem to be able to eat whatever they want, however much they want and never seem to gain an ounce. These people may not even be that active either. These people are blessed with what we all refer to as a “fast metabolism.
On the other hand there are those individuals who must be very aware of what and how much they eat to maintain a healthy weight.
There are some things that will cause your metabolism to slow. One major cause of a slower metabolism is aging. This we can not prevent, but some of the other causes of a slow metabolism are preventable. They are:
- Extreme fasting
Lack of physical exercise
Poor sleeping habits
Too much of a gap between meals
Eating too many foods that are loaded with sugar
If you notice the list above, 5 of the items all involve food and meals. It is well known and documented that those successful in their weight loss endeavors have all included breakfast. As we sleep our bodies are in a fasting mode. In order to “kick start” our metabolism it is essential to eat breakfast. Without food, our metabolism slows and to start your day off on the right foot and waking up your metabolism, then breakfast is imperative.
The same can be said about skipping meals or going too long between meals/snacks. You should attempt to eat something about every 3-4 hours. It doesn't have to be huge meals. But, each meal and snack should contain a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats. Skipping meals and allowing too much time to elapse between meals once again put the body into a fasting mode and the metabolism slows down to accommodate. In fact, if weight loss is your goal, the worst thing you could do is eat a too low a calorie diet, skip breakfast or other meals throughout the day.
So, that brings us to the question raised – what are easy ways to increase your metabolism. There are several ways to do this:
1) If you are not involved in a resistance/strength program, then start now. The more you can increase your muscle mass, the more active your metabolism will be. It is known that muscle mass burns more calories than fat, so the goal of everyone should be to change their body composition and increase their lean body mass. This can best be achieved through a properly designed exercise program that involves strength training and conditioning.
2) If you don't eat breakfast – then you must start now to include this most important meal.
3) Never skip meals. Even a a small snack of fruit/yogurt/nuts can be enough to maintain an active metabolism throughout the day.
4) Try to ensure that you are doing something in the way of physical activity every day for at least 20 minutes.
5) Make sure that your exercise program is of a necessary intensity to create EPOC (post exercise oxygen consumption). If your exercise program is of a high enough intensity, your metabolism will remain elevated for several hours after you have finished exercising = bonus!!
Increasing your metabolism is not that difficult, but you must be consistent and incorporate the above noted items to make a difference. In a nutshell:
1) Eat breakfast
2) Never skip meals
3) Weight train minimum 3x/week
4) Do some form of conditioning (aerobic work) every day – minimum 20 minutes
5) Clean up your diet – eliminate wheat, sugars, all junk food – period!
If you have any specific questions regarding metabolism, how to make necessary lifestyle changes or how to incorporate an exercise program into your life.
Till next time,
“Monitoring, Mentoring, Motivation”