How to Become One Hot Body
by Keeping Your Metabolic Fire Burning at Its Best
You were right. It’s true that your metabolism does decrease over time. Sigh. In fact, after the age of 30, your metabolism typically drops 1-2% per decade—or about 70 daily calories every 10 years.
But, it’s also true that while you can’t change your genes or your age, there are many parts of your life that you can influence to maximize your metabolism and get the very most out of your body’s fuel. Another sigh. . . of relief. Every single day it is your metabolism that sets the budget for how much you can consume to provide you the energy to perform your daily life activities as well as manage your weight in the direction of your goals. Nutrition, exercise and lifestyle all play important roles in how your metabolism works—and how you can make it work for you over a long and metabolically hot life.
Here’s what to do. The top 10 integrated strategies to boost your metabolism (and so much more!)
1. Don’t overdo the calorie cutting. Especially if you’re trying to lose weight, it can be tempting to really cut back on the calories. However, research has shown that to maximize weight loss, you need to fuel your metabolism. Stick to no fewer than 1,200 calories as a minimum for weight loss—and you may actually need more depending on your current weight. A general rule of thumb is to multiply your weight by 12-13 to maintain your weight or 11 if your goal is to safely lose.
2. Eat breakfast. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again. Breakfast does indeed spark the metabolic fire each day to get you energized and burning hotter. Aim for around 300 nutrient dense calories with some lean protein, healthy carbs and a fruit or vegetable. A slice of whole grain toast, natural peanut butter and a sliced banana can be a quick and easy breakfast option or try a low fat yogurt with blueberries and a couple teaspoons of muesli.
3. Add some protein. Making sure there is a modest, healthy source of protein in every meal and most snacks can give a boost to your metabolism as well as extend the life of your healthy carbs and other foods in your meal. Not only does protein take a bit more energy—calories—to break it down in the body, but it slows down the rate of blood sugar entering the blood stream, effectively helping keep hunger and cravings at bay. An egg white omelet with veggies at breakfast, some grilled chicken on your salad at lunch, peanut butter on an apple at snack time. Protein gives a boost to the whole meal and to your metabolism.
4. Eat whole grain, high fiber carbohydrates. Avoid the refined and super-sugary carbs found in most commercial bakery products and many processed foods and your metabolism—and overall health—will benefit. Refined sugar increases insulin more rapidly and may put a damper on your metabolic rate. On the other hand, complex carbs like whole grains are, well, more complex and as a result take more energy to metabolize into energy for you to run on. Stick to the whole grains, fruits and veggies.
5. Eat frequently, but avoid ‘all day grazing.’ Eating itself boosts your metabolism! In fact, every time you eat, your metabolism fires up—up to 30%!—for a short period of time. This is called the ‘thermic effect of food’ and it literally boosts the metabolism. Eating something nutritious and balanced every 3 or so hours during your active day can keep you energized and burning ‘hotter’ by maximizing this terrific effect on your metabolic fire. Avoid all day grazing though so you stay light on your toes and use that extra energy your foods are providing.
6. Skip alcohol, but feature other fluids. Alcohol depresses the metabolism and the body. Studies also show that when people consume alcohol, they also tend to eat more calories—up to 200 extra calories! Just thinking about this effect on your calorie burning ability is enough to give you a headache tomorrow morning with or without the cocktail the night before! Now before you throw out this tip, IF you are going to imbibe: make sure you remember this info, get yourself a game plan and make sure to use smart strategies for choosing, plating and enjoying your meal so you can succeed despite the ‘facts’.
Another winner—drinking 3-10 daily cups of green tea according to a growing number of studies does appear to kick the metabolism into gear—if even mildly—as well as stimulate fat burning. And staying hydrated altogether can help keep your metabolism burning strong, as well. A couple of studies have showed that staying hydrated may be associated with 20-50 calories of extra burning potential daily. Not sound like a lot? How about 2-5 pounds of extra calories expended over the course of the year by doing nothing more than making sure you’re downing your daily agua?
7. Spice it up! Have you heard that spicy foods not only give a kick to your tastebuds but also your metabolism? Well if it’s the right kind, namely members of the capsicum annuum species, including cayenne, paprika and red pepper flakes, you’ve heard right. But spicy food in general has not been studied enough to say the same. Capsaicin is the plant nutrient that researchers have associated with revving up the metabolism and also helping us feel satisfied sooner. Some studies even suggest capsaicin may play a role in fat burning—so no matter if you like the warmth and spice of the hotter cayenne or milder, sweeter paprika, both may be a flavorful and metabolically ‘fire-full’ addition to your menu.
For a little metabolic boost with paprika, try Rancho La Puerta’s Shrimp and Red Peppers on Rosemary Sprigs recipe or the Citrus Salmon with Orange Relish courtesy of SpicesforHealth.
8. Strength, cardio and simply moving. Exercise and activity provide the greatest variable when it comes to your metabolism. If you do a lot of exercise, you burn more calories. And if you do little, your metabolic needs are less. But how you exercise can actually give a boost to your metabolism while you’re working out and even afterward. Sure strength training burns calories, but having stronger muscles burns more calories even when you’re at rest. Important research in 2001 with adult women showed that the metabolism remains higher for up to two hours after a strength training sessions, resulting in a ‘bonus’ 100 extra calories burned! Now that’s hot!
Changing up the cardio by doing different activities or interval training not only keeps your exercise interesting but may also give your body an extra challenge and increased calorie burn. Try biking one day, treadmill or hiking the next. Different speeds and inclines can also make your body work harder resulting in extra effect.
And don’t forget simply trying to ‘move more’. Every 2,000 steps taken equals approximately a mile covered and an average 100 calories expended. Taking even a few laps around the grocery store before shopping, a 10-minute walk after meals, or walking instead of ‘waiting’ before a meeting can really pay off! Strap on a pedometer to see the effect of your steps.
9. Chill out. Chronic stress wreaks havoc on the body, including the metabolism. Increased cortisol has been associated with weight gain and turning those calories into fat, especially that nagging belly fat. While a spa vacation may seem like the natural cure for stress, taking ‘stress breaks’ on a daily basis can also help. Journaling , talking to a friend who gives you joy, practicing meditation, flipping through a magazine, or simply taking 10 deep, yoga-breaths a couple times a day can be tools to help you chill out and keep stress from working against your body’s furnace.
10. Catch some zzzzz’s. Several studies in the past few years have begun to show an association between sleep [LINK: http://www.healinglifestyles.com/index.php/natural-solutions-for-chronic-insomnia] and metabolism, weight, body mass index and overall health. It’s not so unusual to gravitate toward food to fight fatigue, but you may be surprised to learn that less than about 7 1/2 quality hours of sleep may increase your appetite hormone (ghrelin) and decrease your ‘stop eating’ hormone (leptin). A double whammy and researchers have also seen that low sleep can impair blood sugar and insulin regulation during the waking hours. And that’s a formula for weight gain.
When you put these all together, you spell better metabolism and better health, too. Even making a few shifts in the right direction can give your body just the nudge it needs to kick into high metabolic gear. In the end, maximizing your metabolism is about getting the most bang for the buck with the (ever hotter) body you live in today.