Some of us can fondly remember the days when eating unlimited quantities of food never seemed to lead to gaining a single pound? Now, you simply look at food and it goes straight to your hips. You have one major culprit to blame for that, your metabolism. As we age, our metabolism slows down. For many of us, it seems we always have had a slow metabolism. Metabolism is your body’s way of burning energy. More specifically, it is the way your body uses chemical and physical processes to break down nutrients from food to produce energy. Men tend to have a higher metabolism than women, most likely due to testosterone and because they tend to have greater muscle mass. Children also, have a high metabolic rate likely due to growth hormone and their rapid growth phase.
There are three major factors that affect your metabolism, these include:
- Your basal metabolic rate-the rate your body uses energy to do key body processes such as breathe.
- The energy your body uses through physical exercise.
- The energy your body uses to digest foods.
If you want to increase your metabolism, eat well and frequently, and exercise regularly. We each have own metabolism. Genetics, gender, body temperature, hormones, and the amount of fat weight versus muscle weight an individual has, all contribute to their metabolism. Weight loss diets can affect metabolism, as these diets often lead to muscle loss. Any reduction in muscle mass will lower the body’s ability to burn calories. It is for this reason that exercise is essential in any weight loss plan. Alternatively, there are simple ways to increase metabolism.
The following are a few ways to do so:
- Vary your exercise routine. When you use the same muscle groups repeatedly doing the same exercise, the body adjusts and burns fewer calories. So, surprise the body and engage in different activities and utilize different muscle groups. Your body will reward you with a better metabolic rate.
- Eat 6 small meals versus 3 squares. Your body uses energy every time you eat. In other words, every time you eat, your body “revs its engine”, and burns more calories. Eat mini snacks in between meals such as: fruit slices with peanut butter, handful of trail mix, granola bar, or ½ of your favorite sandwich. Not only will this increase your metabolism, it may help you manage your weight as you avoid getting over hungry which can be a true detriment to any weight management plan. Over hungry people often over eat, leading to weight gain.
- Be sure to eat enough protein. When you do not consume enough protein, your body will break down lean muscle to do body reactions that require protein. Good heart healthy sources of protein include: chicken, fish, beans, low-fat cheese, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, tofu, or lean beef. Additionally, protein requires extra energy to be digested, ultimately helping metabolism.
- Sleep well. Lack of sleep can interfere with metabolism. Those that sleep poorly seem to have hormone changes that affect appetite regulation.
Although foods with caffeine, green tea, and hot peppers may increase metabolism, the amounts are likely inconsequential. So use your time and energy more effectively and focus your energy on strength training-and cardio workouts such as walking, jogging, biking, playing hoops and other activities that get your heart pumping!