Balancing work, family, hobbies, and other commitments often means that our lifestyle isn’t so much a choice, as it is a necessity, but we can do little things that help speed up our metabolism.
Do you know people who carefully choose low-fat, low-calorie meal choices, are very disciplined when it comes to resisting the Chef’s Special pecan pie for desert, yet order a glass or two of wine with their meal?
These people are undermining their efforts to boost their metabolism.
Studies show that drinking alcohol with meals actually encourages over eating, which means more calories that need to be burned away or transformed into fat.
Many people are simply unaware that many alcoholic drinks are laden with calories, almost as much as sugary soft drinks.
A bottle of beer or a cocktail is a few hundred calories. Wine is less, but still adds your calorie count. The tip here isn’t to stop drinking alcohol altogether, but to be aware that it's adding to your calorie intake.
Most of us don’t have as much control over the amount that we sleep as we should. Work, family, education, housekeeping, and so many other tasks can literally prevent us from getting the amount of sleep that we need.
Experts tell us, getting enough sleep actually improves metabolism. People who are constantly sleep deprived, typically find that they have less energy to do regular, daily activities.
As a result, sleep-deprived people often lower their own metabolism. They simply don’t have the strength to break down food efficiently, particularly carbohydrates. This is a very difficult issue, because many people can only find time to exercise by borrowing from their rest time.
For example, after a long day of work and dealing with family and home commitments, a person may find the only time they have to exercise is late at night. So what should you do?
Ultimately, it’s a question of balance. Naturally, if you’re willing to exercise, and your doctor agrees that it’s healthy for you, then you’re not going to get fit by sleeping instead of exercising.
Yet, if you steal time away from your sleep in order to exercise, you can actually do more harm than good, because the following day, you won’t have enough energy to digest what you eat. The answer to this catch-22 lies in balance.
You don’t have to work out every night. Or perhaps you can integrate a workout into your life during the day, maybe at lunchtime or right after work.
Most fitness clubs are open very early, some are even open 24 hours. You can also get some fitness equipment for your home and workout there.
If you find you have trouble sleeping, this can also negatively affect the speed of your metabolism, because you won’t have enough energy the following day. Insomnia and other sleep disorders are very common problems.
Some non-medical tips to help you fall asleep include:
- Don’t eat late at night
- Try drinking warm milk before bedtime
- Don’t turn on the TV at night
- Try yoga or other stress-relieving practices
- Try having a warm bath before bedtime
- Don’t exercise close to bedtime, your body can become so energized that it doesn’t want to sleep.
We briefly noted yoga in the list of Things to Do above, and that brings us to another key influence of your metabolism, stress.
Experts believe stress can send unwanted signals to our body, signals that lead to slower metabolism. Essentially, when the body is under constant stress, it releases stress hormones that flood the system. These stress hormones actually tell the body to create larger fat cells in the abdomen. The result can be both increased weight and a slower metabolism.
Some easy stress relievers are:
- Walk more
- Listening to relaxing music
- Practice yoga
- Eat non-stimulating foods (e.g. no caffeine, no sugar, and so on)
- Re-center yourself and de-stress
So there's a link between how much stress you experience and your ability to break down cells and lose weight.
If you don’t want to relax, because you don’t have the time, your stressed-out life is probably playing a role in your weight gain or your inability to lose weight.
Scientists have determined that the 2-week period prior to menstruation is a premium fat burning time. Australian studies have shown that women were able to burn off as much as 30% more fat in the 2 weeks preceding their period.
At this time, the female body’s production of estrogen and progesterone are at their highest. Since these hormones tell the body to use fat as a source of energy, exercising during this time, can really pay off. The body will be inclined to target fat cells for catabolism.
The word calorie has a bad rap. We constantly come across calorie reduced or low calorie foods.
The calories that come from cake are empty calories, which means there’s no real nutritional value that your body can squeeze out and make use of. But in the bigger picture, it’s unwise for your metabolism to become calorie-avoidant.
If you suddenly decrease the amount of calories that you eat, your body won’t try to do more with less. It won’t necessarily provoke catabolism and thus reduce weight and fat cells. Instead, your body will try to keep you alive by slowing down its metabolism. It will simply believe that something is wrong, maybe you’re trapped somewhere without food, and it will just begin to become very stingy with energy.
So what’s the end result? If your body needs 2000 calories a day to survive, and you suddenly give it only 1000, it won’t begin to burn off 1000 calories worth of cells that you have lying around on your love handles.
Instead, your body will slow down its metabolism. It will really try and get as much energy out of those 1000 calories as it can, because it doesn’t want to waste anything.
You’ll feel more tired because your body is being very miserly with energy, and will devote its 1000-calorie ration to essential systems, like blood and oxygen supply.
Metabolically, you won’t be burning off extra calories. In fact, you can actually gain weight by dramatically reducing your calorie intake.
The flipside of this is, you should consume a daily caloric intake that is proportionate to your body size, type, and weight loss goals.
Once you determine the amount of calories that you need, you can provide that to your body via healthy, efficient calories. For example, if your body needs 1500 calories per day, and one slice of double-fudge chocolate cake delivers 500 of those, you can see that eating just one slice will take up a full 1/3 of your daily caloric needs, and that’s not good.
On the other hand, you can see that drinking a tasty fruit smoothy made with yogurt and nuts can deliver half as many calories, but provide you with essential nutrients, vitamins, and other elements that your body needs to healthily do its work.
Fresh on the heels of the discussion on calories, it’s also helpful to note that eating frequently throughout the day can be very good for boosting metabolism. There are a couple of reasons for this.
The first reason is people who tend to eat throughout the day do considerably less snacking. As a result, they tend to avoid potato chips or candy bars that they might otherwise consume if they suddenly felt hungry.
People who eat throughout the day don’t tend to experience severe hunger pains, because they have a steady stream of food entering the body.
The second reason is, by eating throughout the day, you are constantly keeping your metabolism in motion. It’s kind of like having a generator run all the time. It will use more electricity than if you powered it on 3 times a day.
If you plan to eat more often, you should keep a food journal that notes what you eat and drink throughout the day.
You should know the calorie levels of what you eat, and the overall nutritional values, too.
Merely focusing on calories is only half of the job. You need to ensure that you’re eating enough protein, carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, and other vitamins and minerals that your body needs in order to function at optimal levels.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for boosting your metabolism and assisting with weight loss. People who eat breakfast, are much less inclined to snack throughout the morning. Of course, if you're eating more frequently, you can still eat something between breakfast and lunch.
Studies have shown that metabolism slows during sleep, and doesn’t typically get going again until you eat. Therefore, starting the day with breakfast is like kick starting your metabolism. You’ll actually burn more calories throughout the day, simply by eating breakfast.
Remember, as you eat your breakfast, control both the portions and the contents. You don’t want to eat to the point of complete fullness, because you want to eat throughout the day and you won’t be able to do that if you’re stuffed.
At the same time, beware of high-fat breakfasts. Studies have shown that high-fat breakfasts, such as those that include bacon and sausage, not only deliver lots of calories, but they also make you hungry again, very soon. In addition to having ingested a lot of fat and calories, you’ll typically find yourself rather ravenous again in a few hours.
Alternatively, breakfasts that are high in fiber, take longer to digest, and thus, the body won’t be hungry again for a while.
This is something to bear in mind; and it may explain why many people who eat breakfast, find themselves painfully hungry by lunchtime. It’s not their “overactive metabolism” at work, it’s the high fat content, which has been swiftly digested.