What little most of us know about the human body’s metabolism – without the help of a scientific manual – is that a fast metabolism is more conducive to losing weight than a slow metabolism is. That’s good to know for those of us looking to shed a few (or more than a few) pounds. The question is, how can we boost our metabolism without risk to our health, and perhaps even enhance our health in the process?
First, it helps to know what metabolism is and how it functions in our everyday lives. In simple terms, our metabolism is a process in which our body takes what we consume – in terms of food and drink – and converts that into the energy that fuels how we use our bodies. It involves our body’s biochemical and hormonal reactions, per news-medical.net, involved in maintaining the living state of the cells and the organism (provided we feed it properly and consistently).
There are two types of metabolism: “catabolism,” which is the breakdown of molecules to obtain energy, and “anabolism,” which refers to the synthesis of compounds that our cells need. It is the formation of that energy that is one of the foundational elements in metabolism, which in turn is closely linked to nutrition and the supply of nutrients.
12 Ways to Help Boost Your Metabolism
While increasing metabolic rate is the goal of most people looking to lose weight, we are up against factors beyond our control such as age, genetics and gender (men tend to burn calories faster than women do, says webmd.com). There are, however, a number of things you can do to kick your metabolism into a higher gear. Here’s 12 of them:
- Build muscle. A pound of muscle, even at rest, burns six calories day while fat burns only two. Strength training stimulates our muscles throughout our body, raising our average daily metabolic rate. Off come the pounds.
- More intense exercise. Aerobic exercise or a cardio workout such as walking, running or swimming not only increases our metabolic rate but keeps our “engine” running faster for a long period of time. It is important to push yourself, but always be sure to discuss this first with a health professional, especially if you haven’t exercised much for a while.
- Spend time in the sun. “Getting exposure to sunlight in the morning can help boost metabolism,” says certified nutrition consultant Lori Kenyon Farley, quoted at organicauthority.com. “Sunlight sets your body clock, which is important is regulating metabolism.”
- Sleep tight. Persistent lack of sleep can put the brakes on metabolism. Aim for seven to eight hours a night.
- Reduce stress. When stress hormone levels rise for an extended period of time, they start storing fat and producing elevated blood sugar and insulin levels, which can wreak havoc on our metabolism.
- Pamper your liver. A congested liver can be at the root of metabolic issues. “This organ is a powerhouse in the metabolism world,” says fitness expert, nutritionist and author Brad Davidson, quoted at organicauthority.com. “It alone is responsible for around 600 metabolic activities on a daily basis. If your liver isn’t working optimally, your metabolism is not working optimally.”
- Drink water. Proper hydration is a key to better metabolism. What better way to hydrate than with water?
- Eat organic. When you think organic food, think clean food, without all the additives and various chemicals that can hinder our metabolism.
- Eat iron-rich foods. They are essential for carrying oxygen to our muscles to help in burning fat. Spinach, shellfish, lean meats, beans and fortified cereals are great sources, per prevention.com.
- Eat spicy. Spicy foods contain natural chemicals that can stimulate metabolism, per news-medical.net. Adding green chili peppers or red pepper flakes to pasta dishes or stews can be beneficial in this respect.
- Nutritional supplements. Supplements, such as ashwaganda, that assist in regulating adrenal stress glands, per organicauthority.com, are considered important for ideal metabolic health. Certain teas can work in that regard as well.
- Go for the protein. We can include fiber in this mention as well. Protein and fiber have been described as building blocks for increasing metabolic rate. Good sources include beans.