5 Tips to Speed Up Your Metabolism
I’m a child of the 80’s. That means I was a teenager when the internet hit its big boom and started slowly taking over our lives. I remember sending my first email – and who would have thought sending an electronic message would overtake our world like it has? Back then you had several options like send, reply, and forward. Now my email is bombarded with advertisements above, below, and even in my inbox! You have to love technology.
You know those advertisements: click here to learn which foods to never eat? Well this isn’t one of those lists. I get asked questions everyday about weight loss, but people often forget that your metabolism is working 24/7 and goes far beyond how many calories you burned in a workout. So it’s safe to say that a discussion about your metabolism needs a more serious treatment than some ad-space clogging up your email. Let’s talk about how to speed up your metabolism.
1. Bad Posture
Remember how your parents were always telling you to sit up straight? Well, they were onto something. Rounded shoulders, a weak back, and forward head posture can slow your metabolism faster than road construction on I-96. If you see people hunched over while they walk around, this is bad posture resulting from weak muscles in the back. This can force the chin down and actually reduce the amount of air you breathe in and out. Metabolism is simply the exchange of gases going in and out of your body. You can fix this by focusing on strengthening the muscles you can’t see, like your hamstrings, glutes, and back.
2. Not Eating Enough
Yep, you read that right. Most clients I meet need two things: to eat more and move more. Most people eat enough to feed a small bird, and when they do plan on eating a meal, they tend to overeat on processed and junk food. But your metabolism mimics your caloric intake, so severely diminishing the food you eat will slowly lower your metabolic rate over time (1). Now I’m not saying to eat whatever you want whenever you feel like it. When I used to perform metabolic testing on clients, most would under eat by about 600-900 calories based on their metabolic rate. Putting clients on a whole food diet with healthy fats and proteins would usually solve all of this.
3. Skimping on the Protein
Most diets are heavily loaded with carbs – they’re easy on the wallet as well as being convenient. But when it comes to keeping your metabolism at optimal, protein is king. In studies done on protein intake, subjects who had a higher protein intake lost more body fat as well as built more muscle than a lower protein intake group (2). In another study, subjects who consumed protein right after working out (compared to a group with no protein) once again lost more body fat and built some muscle (3). If you want to take your metabolism to another level, make sure protein makes up each of your meals.
4. Get Your Z’s
Bad sleep is bad news for your metabolism. A lack of sleep affects your body’s ability to repair itself, as well as your thought processes throughout the day. Researchers speculate that poor sleep habits result in more snacking during the day as well as constantly devouring stimulants that can disrupt your metabolism. In a four year study, researchers found that those who regularly slept 6 or fewer hours a night experienced more weight gain than those who slept 8 hours (4).
5. Start Your Days Over Easy
Whoever said breakfast is the most important meal of the day wasn’t joking around. When you eat breakfast, you’re actually breaking your fast that occurred while you slept. Your metabolism hasn’t had anything to work off of for around 12 hours (unless you’re a college student and ate dinner at 2 am), so breakfast acts as a sparkplug for your metabolism. In a study with children on breakfast habits, it was found that those who ate breakfast were more active during the week and participated in vigorous activity more so than those who skipped breakfast (5).
There are other ways to make sure your metabolism is working overtime. But these are the simple things you can do to get to the starting line.
1. Berardi, John. Andrews, Ryan. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition 2nd ed. Precision Nutrition. 2013.pp 12
2. Soenen, S. Martens, E.A.P, Hochstenbach-Walen, A., et al. “Normal Protein Intake is Required for Body Weight Loss and Weight Management, and Elevated Protein Intake for Additional Preservation of Resting Energy Expenditure and Fat Free Mass.” (2013) Journal of Nutrition.143:5, 591-596
3. Cribb, Paul J. Hayes, Alan. “Effects of Supplement Timing and Resistance Exercise on Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy.”(2006) Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.. 38;11, 1918-1925
4. Mozaffarian, D. Hao, T., et al. “Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long Term Weight Gain in Women and Men.” (2011) New England Journal of Medicine 364.25, 2392-2404
5. Corder, K., Esther van Sluijs, M.F., Ridgway, C.L., et al. “Breakfast Consumption and Physical Activity in Adolescents: Daily Associations and Hourly Patterns.” (2014) American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 99;2, 361-368