What is metabolism? It’s the rate in which a person burns calories (unit of energy), the metabolism function is then to tell hormones what to do and those hormones may tell us to keep eating, crave certain foods and tells us how much energy we feel. Now sorry to be the one to tell you but your metabolism has a lot to do your genetics, age and height. Fear not, as that doesn’t mean there isn’t a bunch of actions we can take to support it and speed it up.
If you are looking to lose weight, you will have probably heard the saying weight-loss is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. Well to be honest even as a nutritionist I don’t really like this myth, you see I was also a personal trainer for many years and here is why it just doesn’t sit right. You need to think of nutrition and exercise as a happily married couple, it takes both of them working on the relationship to stay happy. The energy given by both is just as important as each other and results in the body will skyrocket when they work well together.
Let’s start with exercise. You can lose weight with diet alone, but you won’t be losing just fat, you may be losing muscle and bone density too. Exercise will not only help you maintain a healthy weight, but it will improve your sleep, help prevent disease and reduce your stress levels. Some great tips for metabolism boosting are to do your cardio workout in the morning ideally on a fasted stomach, strength training in the afternoon a few hours after lunch and stand up as much as possible throughout the day.
I also need to mention sleep, as lack of sleep increases your appetite-stimulating hormones, lowers energy levels to exercise and promotes insulin resistance which can lead to a sluggish metabolism.
Now let’s get down to food. All food triggers your metabolism to some extent as eating creates a thermic effect, but some foods are far better than others including:
- Protein. Making sure you eat plenty of protein with every meal is a sure-fire way to keep your metabolism cranking away. Protein is more difficult for the body to break down and digest than other nutrients, so we increase the post-meal calorie burn.
- Fermented foods. Foods like kimchi, kefir and sauerkraut are probiotic-rich and beneficial for gut health which supports your metabolism more efficiently by breaking down and absorbing foods nutrients well.
- Chilli. Heating up your menu will boost your metabolism. Whether you chop up fresh chillies into dishes, smother sushi with wasabi or splash hot sauce over everything try to hit the heat. The active ingredient capsaicin found in chilli peppers temporarily revs up your metabolism and also curbs appetite. So, whip up a spicy curry or salsa and sweat it out. It also boosts your mood!
- Tea. All the kinds. Teas like green tea and oolong have a type of flavonoid called catechins that boosts metabolism and helps the body break down fat quicker. Whereas the classic English breakfast tea contains caffeine which is a central nervous system stimulant, so increases your energy usage causing your body to burn more calories.
- Water. Drink water to speed up your metabolism. Every time we drink it, it briefly increases our metabolic rate. Not only this, but it makes you feel full so you don’t overeat.
No idea what your metabolism is doing? Check in with your hunger cues, sleep patterns, cravings and motivation.