How to Boost Your Metabolism | HerCanberra

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How to Boost Your Metabolism

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How is your metabolism? Still firing on all cylinders?

Although everyone has one, over the years many of my clients have expressed to me that theirs simply doesn’t exist anymore. They feel that eating one piece of cake ends up straight on their bottom, and for some of them, their journey with losing weight has been just plain difficult.

If you’ve thought this about your own metabolism, don’t fear. It still does exist, you just might need to crank it up a few gears. Here’s how.

What is your metabolism?

Before outlining how you can boost your metabolism, I thought I’d give you a brief, uncomplicated explanation of what it actually is.

Metabolism is the word used to describe all the chemical reactions that take place in your body that support and sustain life. These chemical reactions help you think, speak, move, eat, digest, fight disease, and so much more. All these chemical reactions require energy to occur and this energy comes from the food we eat. It’s your metabolism that actually determines how many kilojoules (energy) your body burns each and every day.

All cells in the body burn energy via metabolism. Skin cells, intestinal cells, brain cells etc all require energy to function, but the cell that burns the most energy, by a long shot, is the muscle cell. Known by fitness professionals as the ‘powerhouses’ of metabolism, muscle cells burn lots of kilojoules especially when exercising. A muscle’s job is to move your body, so the more you move your body the more energy your muscles require to make that happen.

Out of your control

There are some factors that determine your metabolism, which are out of your control. They are:

Gender

Women, unfortunately, are genetically programmed to have ‘slower’ metabolisms than our male counterparts. This means that on average a woman’s body burns less energy for doing the same activity when compared to a man’s. The difference is mainly due to the amount of muscle that men have compared to women and also the differences in our hormonal makeup.

Even though you can’t control this aspect of your metabolism, it’s particularly helpful to understand the differences in between men and women if you are living and eating with someone of the opposite sex.

If you’re a woman living with a man, knowing that your metabolism burns much less energy than his will actually help you become a better food sharer! Falling into the habit of eating the same portion size as the man about the house may mean that you are consuming more energy than your body actually needs.

A common occurrence when people get married or move in together is that the women eats similar portion sizes to her partner and experiences weight gain. This was the case when I got married and it took me a little while to catch on. Now, I purposefully serve myself less than Mr Freeman. He get’s the bigger bowl of pasta, the bigger piece of steak and the leftovers are always prioritised for his lunchbox. Let’s just say, he’s definitely not unhappy with the arrangement! One Australian study on family mealtimes actually found that when men get married their diet improves and when women get married their diet becomes less healthy than it was before.

Age

The younger you are the higher your metabolism and from about your mid to late twenties, it can start to decline. Why? Age-related muscle loss.

Every decade that we age we lose, on average, approximately 5kg of muscle. This would mean that a 50 yr old compared to a 20 yr old may have 15kg less muscle. This means less muscle to burn energy, resulting in a decreased metabolism.

Boost your metabolism

Don’t be discouraged by the uncontrollable factors above. Here are five things you can do to increase the amount of energy your body burns and increase your metabolism.

Move your body

Whenever and wherever you can, move your body. The more you move, the more energy your body burns to make that movement possible.

  • Get a standing desk
  • Walk to work
  • Walk in your lunch break

Don’t let yourself sit for longer than one hour. Take five-minute breaks and do some squats, walk around your work building or do star jumps! It’s quite fun! Ashleigh wrote a great article on incidental activity.

Lift weights

Lifting weights is the most effective way of increasing your metabolism and slowing down age-related muscle decline. The principle is simple: Ii you don’t use it, you lose it.

Muscles are designed to get stronger and a well-trained muscle can exert a tremendous amount of force. When you lift weights or engage in resistance exercise (just another way to say it) regularly, your muscles adapt and grow. They become bigger and stronger. They burn more energy during the exercise session and they burn more energy during rest as well. So, not only does weight training increase your metabolism temporarily during the exercise session it also increases your metabolism over the long term as well. This means your muscles will burn more energy even when they’re resting.

If you don’t use your muscles, your body will find other more pressing uses for the protein and start breaking them down. The less muscle you have, the less energy your body burns during each and every day.

Aim to include three half-hour sessions of resistance exercise a week. You’ll notice a significant improvement in your muscle tone and in your overall well-being. Weight loss becomes easier because your body’s burning more energy making it easier to create a negative energy balance. Regular weight lifting also helps strengthens bones and decreases your risk of developing osteoporosis.

Find a good gym or personal trainer who can write you a program and help keep you motivated.

Increase your heart rate daily

For a good 30 minutes each and every day do some kind of activity that raises your heart rate and gets you huffing and puffing. A fast walk, climbing a mountain, riding a bike, an aerobics class, going for a run…

Whatever it is, cardiovascular exercise burns lots of kilojoules and offers plenty of other health benefits as well.

Eat lean protein

Consuming sufficient amounts of lean protein gives your body the tools it needs to build more muscle when you start exercising. Without sufficient protein, your body doesn’t have the building blocks to restore and repair hard working muscles and other organs.

Aim to include unprocessed protein sources such as the foods listed below:

  • Milk and soy milk
  • Yoghurt
  • Eggs
  • Fish including canned fish (tuna, salmon etc)
  • Seafood like prawns, crab and squid
  • Soy bean and other soy products
  • Legumes, beans and lentils
  • Chicken breast or thigh
  • Veal
  • Kangaroo
  • Red meat with the visible fat removed before cooking

Drink, drink, drink

Staying well-hydrated has been shown through numerous studies to increase your metabolism. Most of the chemical reactions that take place inside your body’s cells require water to make them happen, so it makes sense that the more hydrated you are the more these reactions can take place.

Good hydration can also help decrease your incidence of headaches, improve your concentration and help you feel more ‘energised’ during the day.

Drink at least one glass of water at every meal and snack, or take a large drink bottle and aim to finish it during the day. You’re well hydrated when your urine is pale yellow.

If you’d like professional help with practical and realistic dietary strategies, contact my team at The Healthy Eating Hub, we can tailor a nutrition solution to help you achieve your health and fitness goals.

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