Boost your metabolism the healthy way

Posted by Carlos Mandeiro on

The word “metabolism” is a bit vague and broadly refers to all chemical reactions involved in our bodies to maintain life. When we talk about metabolism in a weight loss context, it usually refers to the energy consumption rate. It is a key concept to nutrition and can have a direct impact on body weight (i.e. weight loss or weight gain).

Your "resting metabolism" (a term often employed by weight loss experts) represents the number of calories your body burns when it is at rest. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so when you are overweight your resting metabolism tends to be slower than someone who has more muscle mass.

In simplistic terms, to lose fat and not muscle (which is usually the goal for healthy weight loss) you need to have an efficient, high metabolism. In practical terms, this means burning more calories than you are consuming.

How can I boost my metabolism to lose weight?

Eat well

When it comes to healthy and successful weight loss, slow and steady wins the race. If you try to cut calories too drastically, you may experience some initial weight loss but that won’t last long-term. Your body can go into "starvation mode", where it fears that nutrients are becoming scarce and so it hangs on to fat reserves. In other words, your metabolism slows down, making it even harder to lose weight. Ultimately, there is no replacement for a balanced diet packed with nutrients, when it comes to achieving a healthy metabolism and promoting natural weight loss.

Eat proteins

As part of a balanced diet, proteins play a role that is crucial to weight-loss: they help you feeling more full while boosting your metabolic rate, as it benefits from the thermic effect of food. Proteins are indeed difficult to breakdown to actionable nutrients and have been shown to increase your metabolic rate by 15–30%, compared to 5–10% for carbs and 0–3% for fats. Eating more protein can also reduce the drop in metabolism associated with fat-loss, and is key to maintain muscle mass.

Drink more

Replacing all sugary drinks with water is a staple for a successful weight-loss, as you remove the large caloric intake of sodas in one go. As for protein, water has been shown to increase metabolic rate by 10-30%, even though it is for a shorter duration (about an hour) and helps fill you up. Drinking a big glass of water is a great tip, as it helps you eat less.

Tea (green and oolong) is a good alternative to water, and may be good to increase fat-burning. Coffee also promotes fat-burning, but we advocate to use this last one cautiously as it can damage your sleep patterns, increase anxiety and heart rate and has been linked to digestive issues.

Eat smart

There are certain foods and nutrients that are scientifically proven to support a healthy metabolism. These include:

• Kelp: it is a large edible seaweed (algae), which grows in underwater "forests" in shallow oceans. It contains high levels of iodine, a mineral which contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism, the normal production of thyroid hormones and normal thyroid function.

• Magnesium: Magnesium contributes to a reduction of tiredness and fatigue, normal energy-yielding metabolism, normal muscle function and normal protein synthesis. It can be found in foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados and bananas.

• Chromium picolinate: it is a mineral that contributes to normal macronutrient metabolism and to the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels. It can be found in high levels in foods such as broccoli, barley, oats, green beans, tomatoes and romaine lettuce.

• Choline: it is a water-soluble nutrient that is usually grouped within the B-complex vitamins. It contributes to normal lipid metabolism - lipids are fat-like substances found in your blood and body tissues. It can be found in foods such as liver, eggs, cauliflower, mushrooms, dark leafy greens, shellfish, asparagus, brussels sprouts, bok choy and fish.

• Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity, normal energy-yielding metabolism, normal protein and glycogen metabolism and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue - all very useful in the context of weight loss! Foods rich in this vitamin include pork, poultry, fish, wholegrain cereals (such as oatmeal, wheatgerm and brown rice), eggs and soya beans.

• Konjac fibre glucomannan: konjac fibre is a starch from the root of the konjac plant, which grows in China and Japan. The popular name for the root in Japan is devil's tongue or konnyaku, and it is prepared there into foods that look like squares or strips of stiff gelatin, with a rubbery texture. A form of soluble fibre derived from the konjac root, glucomannan contributes to weight loss in the context of an energy-restricted diet. It has almost no calories, is naturally high in fibre, absorbs water in the stomach and, in contact with water, expands and can absorb up to 50 times its weight.

• Spices: Cayenne pepper, for example, is one of the most widely used spice ingredients for culinary purposes. It (as well as some other peppers) contains a substance called capsaicin, which researchers believe is a thermogenic chemical - a chemical that may help speed up your metabolism and decrease your appetite.

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list. There are many other foods and nutrients that can support a fast, efficient metabolism. Eat a varied, well-balanced diet, full of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as lean protein, and you are likely to cover all your bases.

Exercise regularly

And it's not all about food! Never underestimate the value of a regular exercise routine and the effect that it can have on your metabolism. Many people look for reasons why exercise is not necessary and think that they can lose the weight through dieting alone. Exercise not only burns calories, it also raises your overall metabolism so calories burn faster even while you are sitting still or sleeping. Double your weight loss benefits through regular exercise!

High-intensity exercise and weight-lifting have been shown to be the most potent in terms of weight-loss, thanks to the high amount of calories burnt per minute and to the healthy muscle-mass they contribute to maintain or grow, which is key to a speedy metabolism. Exercise doesn’t have to be all sweaty in a gym though, simple things like walking or standing up more can go a long way.


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