We all have that one friend who can eat her own body weight’s worth of food in one sitting and not see it on the scales! That’s because she has a fast metabolism - the rate at which your body turns what you drink and eat into energy. If you are like most of us and struggle with slow metabolism, try adding these quick boosters to your daily routine and finally take control of your metabolism.
Avoid crash diets
Crash diets help you lose weight fast but you also lose muscle mass which slows down your metabolism says Nadine Aoun, Clinical Dietician. The final result is your body burns fewer calories and gains weight faster than before the diet.
Start the day right
Your parents were right when they told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Having something to eat shortly after you wake up will wake up your metabolism. Charlotte Cummins, MSc Clinical Nutritionist & Health Coach at Blue Lights Dubai says “It’s true; breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is the first meal after your body has been fasting all night and what you choose to feed your body can set you up for the day!” Try to include some fresh fruit, lean protein and wholegrains. All of which are essential in our diet. “If you skip breakfast” says Nadine “your body goes into starvation mode so your metabolism slows to conserve energy. According to some studies people who skip breakfast had 4.5 times the risk of obesity”.
Add Omega-3 to your diet
Eating lots of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help fuel your metabolism, try salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring. Omega-3s regulate metabolism by balancing your blood sugar and reducing your resistance to the hormone leptin, which has been linked to fat burning. Need a less fishy alternative, then add walnuts, chia seeds or flaxseed oil into your diet. You should also add some good sources of protein says Nadine. “Your body burns more calories digesting protein than it does eating fat or carbohydrates. Replacing some carbs with lean protein rich foods can boost metabolism at mealtimes. Try lean beef, turkey, fish, white meat chicken, beans and eggs.”
Graze through the day
Eating smaller meals throughout the day, instead of three main ones, is a proven strategy of keeping the hunger pangs at bay. Victoria Tipper, Nutrition Coach at Dubai Herbal & Treatment Centre explains that “many people restrict their calorie intake considerably in order to lose weight but this can actually cause a drop in metabolism as the body perceives it as starvation and slows everything down to conserve energy. So ensuring you eat regular meals and fuel your body adequately is a must”.
Avoid trans fats
While you should not totally cut fats from your diet, trans fats should definitely be avoided. Trans fats bind to liver cells and fat in the body, slowing your metabolism and increasing your resistance to insulin and inflammation. All of which can cause you to gain weight. Choosing the right foods is essential says Charlotte. “You can be doing great exercise every day but a diet high in fat and saturated fat and excess calories will not work well for your metabolism. We need at least 5 fruit and vegetables every day. Fruit and vegetables contain essential nutrients that keep our body working to the best of its ability. Try to eat at least 5 fruit and vegetables every day and choose a variety of colours”.
Up your workout intensity
Exercise is well-known to improve your metabolism says Nadine. “It increases the amount of muscle you have and the more muscle you have, the faster your BMR will be.” Changing your workout routine regularly will prevent your body from getting used to your workout, which is often the cause of a weight loss plateau. So at your next session in the gym, try ramping up the intensity of your cardio workout for 30-second intervals, returning to your normal pace afterwards. For example, run for 30-seconds and then jog for one minute. Repeat the entire sequence at least 5 times, this will rev up your metabolism for the rest of the day. Charlotte suggests that you “work with your nutritionist to assess your calories allowance and reset goals. As you are hitting your targets and your muscle mass and body fat changes so does your nutritional and fitness requirements. You should aim to change your exercise and food plan every six weeks as your body adapts”.
Train with weights
While hours of cardio may help burn fat, muscle training is needed to really shed the weight. Though muscle does weigh more than fat, it uses more energy. That is because cardio workouts only burn fat while doing them. However, your muscles will continue to burn fat for hours after strength training. Studies have shown that you can increase your resting metabolism by 100 calories a day if your workout using weights for 30 to 40 minutes a week.
“The best thing to boost metabolism is to build muscle through strength and resistance training because muscle burns more calories at rest than anything else, so the more muscle you have the more calories you burn whilst doing nothing. Strength training also gives us a boost of testosterone and growth hormone which boost metabolism, even for us ladies. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is also great to develop a faster metabolism as it increases growth hormone and boost muscle mass” says Victoria.
When we train, particularly resistance training, we can build up muscle mass. Building muscle mass is a great way to increase your metabolism. “The more muscle your body has the more calories you will need to keep that muscle working. This means you can add extra calories to your overall calorie allowance” says Charlotte.
Lastly, Nadine adds drink more water. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that drinking water increases metabolic rate by 30% in healthy women and men.