6 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism
Rebecca McPhee with Credit to Diabetes NSW & ACT
I often get the question “how do I speed up my metabolism” or “how can I burn more calories”. Whilst there are no specific foods that will drastically speed up the metabolism and lead to large amounts of weight loss there are several things you can do to influence your metabolic rate.
1. Eat protein - Protein has the highest Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF) compared to fat or carbs. TEF is the energy cost of digesting and absorbing food. This means that it takes more energy to break down protein compared to carbohydrate and fat so you burn more calories! Aim for protein with each meal. Protein includes meat, chicken, fish, eggs, tofu. Protein fills you up and prevents those hunger pangs.
2. Break the Fast – Studies show that people who eat breakfast tend to be a healthier weight than those who don’t. Eating breakfast in the morning gets our metabolism into gear for the day compared to being in starvation mode, which only slows the metabolism to conserve calories. Including low GI/protein-rich breakfast combos will keep you satisfied for hours e.g., natural muesli with Greek yoghurt and berries, eggs and sourdough or wholegrain toast with veggies (spinach, tomato, mushroom); Breakfast in a glass – milk of your choice, Greek yoghurt, banana, berries, 1 Tbsp oats.
3. Ditch the diets – cutting back drastically on kilojoules in the quest to rapidly lose weight will actually have the opposite effect. When there is a lack of kilojoules, your body will start to use muscle rather than fat to provide it with energy. Your metabolism will be slowing down and conserve energy so that you need fewer kilojoules to survive. The problem is when you go back to normal eating, your metabolism will have become slower so your weight will rapidly increase which will make it a struggle to lose it again. If you are aiming to lose weight, work on gradual changes that you can stick to such as reducing portion sizes, decreasing ‘junk’ foods, eating more whole foods.
4. Move it, to lose it – If you are a fidgeter, you will be burning more kilojoules than if you sit still! One study found that fidgeting whilst sitting burn approximately 54 kilojoules compared to sitting still which burns 5 kilojoules. So if you are working in an office or from home, think of ways to move more such as walking to speak to a colleague instead of emailing, walking around whilst talking on the phone, using the stairs, walking to refill your water bottle or even doing a few loads of washing or vacuuming to break up the day.
5. Include resistance training – Did you know that muscle burns about four times more calories than fat! An effective way to speed up your metabolism is to increase the amount of muscle tissue you have. Including resistance training is an ideal way to build and maintain muscles and can include small hand weights, resistance bands or even using your own body weight to do push-ups, tricep dips, squats and lunges.
6. Get enough shut-eye – not getting enough sleep affects our metabolism, appetite and food selection which can lead to weight gain. Sleep influences two appetite hormones in our body called leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is a hormone that decreases appetite, so when leptin levels are high, we usually feel fuller. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite and is responsible for the feeling of hunger. Studies have found that sleep restriction increases levels of ghrelin and decreases leptin. This combination can increase your appetite, making calorie-restriction more difficult to stick to, and cause overeating. Ideally, adults should aim for at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Whilst there is no magic pill that will speed up your metabolism and shed kilos, there are several factors that can definitely influence the way your metabolism functions including the right type and amount of food, exercise and sleep.
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