In my last three articles I revisited the topic of boosting your metabolism discussing the effect that both food and exercise can have. I explained that metabolism generally refers to the number of calories your body burns in a day. It is influenced by three main things:
- Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) (the number of calories you burn performing the basic functions that keep you alive).
- Your level of Physical Activity.
- The Thermic Effect of Foods that you Eat (the number of calories it takes to digest and absorb the foods you eat).
Today I would like to bring all this information together and give you nine top tips for maximising your metabolism.
1) EAT HIGH FIBRE CARBOHYDRATES:- High fibre carbohydrates are harder to digest than simple carbohydrates and therefore have a greater thermic effect. On top of this foods that are high in fibre are generally lower in calories (because fibre itself contains zero calories), help suppress your appetite and provide you with many more fantastic benefits. High fibre foods include fruits, vegetables and whole grain products so where possible make sure your dietary carbohydrates come from these sources. Not only will they help you burn slightly more calories but they will also make it easier for you to lose weight. However, you need to make sure that you do not go overboard on the fibre. Excessive fibre consumption has been linked with wind, diarrhea, constipation and more.
2) EAT VITAMIN RICH FOODS:- Your body relies on vitamins and minerals to perform a number of essential functions. If you become deficient in any of the thirteen vitamins you may not be able to perform some of these functions properly which can have a negative impact on your BMR. There are lots of vitamin rich foods including fruits, vegetables, eggs, liver and nuts. To maximise your metabolism you need to make sure you are getting the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for all your vitamins from the foods you eat. It will keep your BMR at its optimal level and also promote good overall health. However, like with fibre you need to make sure you don’t overdose. Getting too many vitamins has a number of adverse effects including cell and organ damage.
3) DRINK LOTS OF WATER:- If your body is not properly hydrated it may not be able to perform certain vital functions. This can lead to a reduction in your BMR. Therefore, you need to make sure you are drinking enough water to maximise your metabolism. I find that keeping a water bottle at your desk and topping it up regularly plus making an effort to drink extra water whilst exercising helps me stay hydrated throughout the day.
4) MAKE SURE YOU ARE GETTING ENOUGH PROTEIN:- Most people’s diets are rich in fats and carbohydrates but contain very little protein. However, protein is a very important macronutrient that is essential for the growth and repair of your body’s cells. It also has a greater thermic effect than fats and carbohydrates with research suggesting that 25% of the calories in protein are burned during digestion and absorption. Therefore, you can give your metabolism a boost by making protein a richer part of your diet. However, you need to make sure that you are not consuming too much. Overdosing on protein can place stress on a number of vital organs including your kidneys.
5) ADD SOME SPICE TO YOUR DIET:- Spicy foods can temporarily increase your BMR. For starters they increase your body’s temperature for a short period after consumption meaning that you will burn more calories as your body attempts to regulate this temperature. Secondly, spices such as cayenne are thought to have thermogenic properties meaning that they temporarily increase the rate at which your body burns fat. Like with the other foods mentioned in this article you need to exercise moderation when it comes to spicy foods. Getting too much can lead to unpleasant side effects such as heartburn, stomach ulcers and an irritable bowel.
6) CUT BACK ON THE ALCOHOL:- Alcohol has a dehydrating effect and can therefore reduce your BMR. Many alcoholic beverages are also full of simple carbohydrates meaning that they have a reduced thermic effect when compared with high fibre carbohydrates and protein rich foods. On top of this excessive alcohol consumption can cause vitamin deficiencies which further slow down your BMR. You don’t need to eliminate alcohol from your diet completely but if you drink regularly perhaps you should consider cutting down.
7) REDUCE YOUR CAFFEINE CONSUMPTION:- Like alcohol, caffeine has a dehydrating effect and can lower your BMR. Drinking a couple of cups of coffee each day is unlikely to have any adverse effects on your metabolism but if you are getting all your fluids from caffeinated beverages you might want to think about substituting in some water.
8) START A CARDIOVASCULAR EXERCISE ROUTINE:- Your metabolism is partially affected by your level of physical activity. Regular cardiovascular exercise helps in two ways. First, you burn additional calories whilst performing the cardio. Secondly, the number of calories you burn following a cardiovascular workout remains elevated for a few hours after you finish. By going for a walk, jog, run, bike ride, swim (or whatever other cardiovascular exercise takes your fancy) a few times a week you can burn extra calories and boost your metabolism.
9) START A RESISTANCE TRAINING ROUTINE:- A pound of muscle burns around 6 calories per day whilst a pound of fat burns around 2 calories per day. Therefore, by increasing your lean muscle mass you can raise your BMR. If you perform a resistance training workout a few times per week and combine it with proper nutrition you can build additional muscle and increase the amount of calories you burn whilst resting.
As you can see from this article it is possible to boost your metabolism through a combination of smart food choices and a well structured exercise routine. However, you need to remember that metabolism is not the key to successful weight loss. Whilst you can increase the number of calories you burn on a daily basis by following the above tips there is a limit to their effect. Maximising your metabolism will not compensate for eating too much food BUT if you learn to control the amount you eat and follow the above advice metabolism can be a powerful tool in your weight loss arsenal. I highly recommend that you try and implement the above tips in to your lifestyle because they will give your metabolism a boost, help you burn more calories and more importantly they will improve your overall health.
Now I want to hear from you guys. What’s your opinion on metabolism? Do you think it’s an essential part of weight loss or do you think it’s over hyped? Leave me a comment and let me know.