All my family and friends consider me a scientist of sorts, and this title is suitable considering I feel the need to research everything that my mind ever ponders. Furthermore, my life is a series of experiments conducted as rigorously as possible in a natural setting. The following tips for boosting your metabolism are therefore not only based on research, but according to my personal experiments, tare proven to be effective.
BTW, it is important to clarify what metabolism is. Metabolism is the process of breaking down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to yield the energy your body needs to maintain itself. The rate of your metabolism depends on the interaction between the number of calories you consume, the number of calories you burn while eating and exercising, and the calories you burn based on your individual genetic constitution. The easiest way to increase your metabolism, therefore, is to increase your body’s need for energy, through physical activity, since your body requires energy stores not only during exercise but even upto two hours afterward in order to repair itself AKA “the afterburn effect”. Being more muscular also boosts your body’s energy requirements as each extra pound of muscle you carry can burn upto to 50 additional calories just to maintain itself! There are also dietary and lifestyle concessions one can make, for example, by eating foods that require extra energy to digest.
The following are strategies I have found contribute to boosting my metabolism and they are also super-easy & convenient to incorporate into any lifestyle.
- I integrate high intensity intervals into my workout, for example, by alternating 5 minutes of moderate intensity cardio with 30 seconds of all-out effort.
- I eat small meals often, every 3-4 hours. Each time you eat, you stimulate your metabolism for a short period of time. Eating every few hours also feeds muscle and starves fat. By eating frequently, you reassure your body that you aren’t going to starve and that food will always be available, which prevents fat storage. Research demonstrates that people who eat every few hours have less body fat and faster metabolisms than those who eat only 2 or 3 meals per day. That said, it is critical to eat the right foods. Each mini-meal should be a complete meal with a serving of vegetables and a healthy source of protein.
- I eat lots of fibre. High-fiber foods like vegetables contain non-digestible carbohydrates, but the body tries hard to break it down anyway, using up energy — and boosting metabolism in the process. Vegetables are also low in calories and high in nutrients.
- I hardly sit or stand still (mostly because I can’t), unless I have to. Frequent movement helps to maintain and contribute to a high metabolism.
- I drink green tea at least once a day. A compound in green tea called ECGC has been shown to elevate metabolism. Antioxidants called catechins have also been shown in studies to reduce body weight and waist circumference. In addition, green tea is packed with cancer-fighting compounds that can benefit anyone’s diet, at any age.
- I put hot pepper sauce/flakes/powder on nearly everything I eat. I enjoy spicy food even more knowing that chili peppers contain bioactive chemicals called capsinoids, which studies have shown to increase energy expenditure as well as reduce appetite.
- I drink coffee and coffee-based drinks. Small amounts of caffeine have been shown to boost metabolism through stimulation of the central nervous system. However, too much coffee can lead to trouble sleeping, which is counterproductive to metabolism enhancing efforts, as well as upset stomachs or irregular heartbeats.
- I eat alot of Protein. The body experiences a significant elevation in metabolic rate right after eating a meal, called the “thermic effect of food”. Our bodies need extra energy to digest, absorb and transport all the nutrients after consuming proteins.
- Despite being a vegetarian I eat plenty of Iron-Rich Foods. Iron is an essential mineral that helps transport oxygen to tissues throughout the body as well as helps our bodies make energy — low iron levels can lead to fatigue, loss of appetite, anemia (not enough red blood cells) and slow down your metabolism. Plant sources of iron include pumpkin seeds, lentils, tofu, chickpeas and other beans.
While skimming through research to confirm facts for this article, I learned that there is mounting research that Vitamin D contributes to weight management, although it is not clear what role it plays. Vitamin D can easily be obtained through taking in some sun.
Also, according to DavidAllison, PhD, professor of biostatistics and director of the clinical nutrition center at the University of Alabama, our reliance on modern appliances like heaters and air conditioners may play a part in the size of our waists. Overusing tools intended to regulate our body temperature reduces the energy we expend to stay warm/cool. Furthermore, animals and people alike consume more food when temperatures are neutral and eat less when they feel too hot or cold.
Finally, research seems to suggest that a lack of sleep can decrease the number of calories your body burns just resting and performing the basic necessities of life, like pumping blood and breathing. I hardly sleep 5-6 hours a night, and have lived most of my adult life this way. It’s not because I do not have more time to sleep, but because I cannot sleep for much longer and because I’d rather be awake doing things than sleeping. I plan to test the effect of these three latter variables — Vitamin D, body temperature and sleep and will post the outcomes of my experiments in a few weeks.