If you think back to your own personal health history, I am confident you can pinpoint a time in your life when the weight just started to “creep” up on you. Whether it was an emotional or stressful trigger that started the number on the scale to climb or the hectic pace of life which caused health to take a back burner position – one day you wake up and realize just do not feel like the vibrant, fit person you were meant to be. The good news is, the body has an amazing forgiving and restorative nature – given the proper foods, nutrients and conditions, you can lose the weight and feel like your “best” self within a short time.
What is metabolism?
While studying and speaking to several people about the function of metabolism, I found a majority of people felt their metabolic rate was fixed. In other words, each individual has a “set point” of metabolic function that cannot be changed. While this is true for part of your metabolism, as you will see there is a certain amount of flexibility that can drive your metabolism up or down.
The question that researchers and doctors have been investigating for years is if metabolism can be altered thru various lifestyle and dietary changes. If you have difficulty losing weight, it is thought that you are one of the unlucky ones that have a “slow” metabolism dooming you to a future of continued weight gain and weight loss struggles. If you have a “fast” metabolism, you may be among one of those lucky few who can eat anything and everything they wish never gaining a pound. With great strength, science demonstrates that metabolism can indeed be increased with a variety of natural steps. The key is to strike a fine balance between caloric intake, proper food choices and exercise.
The top 5 way to boost metabolism naturally are:
1. Do not skip breakfast! Picture your metabolic rate shaped as an ice cream cone. In other words, starting at the top – it is at its highest in the morning and starts to decline on a gradual level as the day progresses. Unfortunately, most of us have a backwards approach to eating when it comes to weight loss and meals. We skip breakfast for a variety of reasons such as lack of hunger, a busy schedule or to save on calories. While this may seem to make sense from a pure “calories in, calories out” theory, research has demonstrated time and time again that this approach will result in weight gain. Whether it is a protein shake, a yogurt and granola parfait or slow cooking oatmeal – you need something to start your day off right.
2. Eat more protein! The hormone glucagon is released in response to dietary protein, such as egg whites, cheese, lean meats, chicken, fish and protein powder. Glucagon signals fat cells to release fat into the blood, thereby promoting its use. In other words, more fat is burned and more weight is lost when you eat more protein.
3. Say good-bye to refined grains. Refined grains, such as breads, pastas, cookies and cakes, cause most people to over-secrete the hormone insulin. Insulin has the opposite effect of glucagon. Of its many functions, insulin is secreted from the pancreas to facilitate the uptake of glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. Glucose (a.k.a. blood sugar) is derived from carbohydrates and is the main source of fuel for the body. When too many of the wrong types of carbohydrates are consumed, such as refined white sugar and/or white flour, excess insulin is secreted to deal with the sugar. In short, excess insulin = excess fat.
4. Stick to low glycemic index carbohydrates. Think fruits, vegetables, whole grains (breads and pastas) and beans. Do not be scared of eating bread! Research demonstrates very clearly that whole grains are beneficial for weight loss and the prevention of type II diabetes, colon cancer and constipation.
5. Go for green. Instead of your morning coffee – opt for some green tea. Green tea has many health benefits, from helping to fight diseases such as cancer and heart disease, to aiding in weight loss. Studies show that catechins, the antioxidants in green tea, help increase fat burning. Research also shows that green tea may lower blood sugars by inhibiting enzymes that allow the absorption of starches, and it may reduce the absorption of fat from the intestine. Typical dosage is three or four cups per day or a 300 to 400 mg capsule of green tea extract daily.
Take home point
Your total metabolic rate is not fixed. In fact, there is a certain part of it that is elastic and when given the proper foods, hydration, exercise and supplements can rev up and help you slim down naturally. Good appetite!
Image: Martin Phox