Metabolism is a process. It’s the way our cells change the food we eat into energy we need to breathe, move, think and do… everything. It keep us, as it keeps all living things, alive.
Basically, metabolism is the process your body uses to convert calories into energy. Whether you know it or not, your body is always burning calories. Even when you’re sitting around watching Gossip Girl for the third time, your body is using energy to run the inner show that goes on behind the scenes – stuff like keeping your ticker running, blood circulating, repairing your cells, breathing, and the list goes on. We are all born with a metabolic rate that suits our body and disposition. Some people are naturally fast burners, and some are naturally slow burners, but that doesn’t mean we have zero control. We do have some authority over the rate at which we metabolize food and use it for fuel. Here we look at some key ways to access that power.
Stay well hydrated – Try to consume at least half your bodyweight (lbs) in ounces of water per day. Recently, a study done among overweight children found that consuming the recommended amount of water increased their metabolism by 25%.
Stay rested – Clocking at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night keeps your metabolism running strong. When you’re chronically sleep deprived (consistently getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night), your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol. This uptick in cortisol throws your hormonal balance out of whack, which can slow down your metabolism. Plus sleep deprivation increased your appetite for carbohydrate-rich foods, like sweets and snacks, making sleep loss a double whammy for weight gain.
Eat an appropriate amount, and make sure you get protein – lets start by stating that eating five to six small meals throughout the day is not helpful for your metabolism. This was a fad that had it’s time in the spotlight, but it doesn’t give your body the break it needs to digest and utilize nutrients. Grazing throughout the day means your body is constantly releasing insulin, the fat-storing hormone. This also means that the body will become less dependant on carbs for fuel, which allows your blood sugar to stay steady. This results in less cravings, better energy, mental clarity, and a sense of control. Having a steady blood sugar also supports an efficient metabolism.
Don’t skip meals – When you skip meals, you actually allow the body to dip into its protein-aka, the muscles-for fuel. So, not eating lunch when your body is asking for fuel isn’t going to strategically pull from, that soft pocket of fat in your inner thighs like your hoping. In fact, it may make your body hold onto it for longer. When you trick your body into worrying that it might not get fuel for a while (or when it needs it), your metabolic rate slows down, so you hang onto your calories longer in case you need them for an emergency. In other words your fat stores will be the last to go.
Build muscle – Thirty minutes of weight-bearing exercises 3 to 4 times a week can help you increase and maintain muscle mass, which keeps your metabolism running high. A pound of muscle burns about 6 calories a day whereas a pound of fat only burns 2 calories a day. So the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism.
Reduce your stress level – Maintaining a healthy metabolism is also connected to our levels of stress and overwhelm. So if you want to lose the weight and keep it off, then stress reduction practices, like meditation, breath work, exercise, talk therapy and other self-care strategies, are important parts of your overall plan.
Try cold exposure and heat therapy – Many studies suggest that cold water immersion has a consistent effect on raising the metabolic rate in humans. If immersing yourself in cold water seems daunting or maybe not accessible, a rinse in the shower will do. I am personally a huge fan of alternating hot and cold water in the shower. You can start with smaller spurts of cold water and work your way up, but it’s always a good idea to end on cold. On the other end, heat us another way to boost your metabolic rate. A hot, relaxing, salty bath or a sit in the sauna can purge your pores while boosting your metabolism.
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