6 Easy Ways to Rev Up Your Metabolism

What is metabolism?

If you can think of your body as a car for a moment, and your food as petrol, then metabolism is the process of burning petrol in order to hurl yourself along the freeway at 100 km/hr - it’s the process of making your body go.

Metabolism describes the sum of all the chemical and physical changes that take place in your body to keep it growing and functioning. Even when you are at rest, your body still operates at 60-70 percent energy, kind of like a car idling. You need that much energy just to keep your heart beating, your temperature moderated, and your lungs filling and emptying, among other things. If you increase your metabolism, you increase the amount of energy (calories) burnt.

To rev up your metabolism, put your foot down and accelerate with these simple tips!

1. Don’t skip or skimp

To keep your metabolism as healthy as possible, don’t skimp on nutrients – particularly protein. When you don’t eat enough protein, your body has to break down muscle to meet its protein needs; this slows your metabolism.

However, research shows that the average Australian already eats double the amount of protein than is recommended, so don’t go overboard.

Recommended daily protein intake is 20-30% of your overall calories; stick to it. It’s equally important to get a good balance of other nutrients.  

Skipping meals is also a no-no for a healthy metabolism. Your body needs consistent levels of fuel and nutrients to keep it going. That doesn’t mean you have to religiously eat three square meals a day, but don’t consume all your day’s calories in one sitting. Studies suggest this slows metabolism.

2. Some like it hot

And even if you don’t, you might want to try a little spice for the sake of your metabolism.

Cayenne pepper is thought to stimulate metabolism for at least ten minutes after you eat it. A couple of teaspoons of chopped chilli or chilli powder has a similar effect by raising your body temperature and helping you to burn calories faster. Even mustard has been shown to increase metabolism when added to a meal.

If you prefer less dramatic spices, try ginger. You can add this root vegetable to stir-fries and other meals by grating or dicing it into the mix. Dried and ground ginger can also be added to meals and used in sweet foods, such as gingerbread. However, if you’re watching your weight, cakes and biscuits (even ones with ginger in them) are best avoided. Boil the fresh root and turn it into a cup of tea instead!

3. Flex those biceps

Lean Body Mass (LBM) describes all of the essential tissues that make up your body, including muscles, bones, organs and essential fat. The more muscle you have in your LBM, the higher your metabolic rate, and the more calories you burn.

To help rev up your metabolism, work on your muscle tone. You don’t have to become the next Muscle & Fitness cover-guy-or-gal though - even slight improvements in muscle tone and build will improve your metabolism.

Start easy with some simple weight lifting or strength training exercises and go from there. The key is to work your muscles regularly and to gradually increase intensity; don’t start with a forty minute mega-iron-pumping session!

Yoga can also be a great way to gently build muscle tone. Any physical activity will help condition your muscles, burn extra calories and use stored fat. Talk to a fitness expert for more advice.

4. H20 to go

Most of the body's chemical reactions take place through the medium of water, so to keep things ticking you need to keep your water levels up.

A recent study conducted by researchers in Berlin suggests that water intake may actually increase metabolic rate. The metabolic rates of those involved in the study increased by 30% after drinking approximately 500 ml of water. The research is preliminary, and further studies need to be conducted, but so far the results suggest that a daily increase of about 1500 ml could equate to an extra 50 calories burned each day.

5. Pick up the pace … then drop it

Exercise in general will improve metabolism but changing the pace can increase the effect. Did you know that interval training can help you to burn more calories than a regular moderately paced exercise, such as jogging? Many gyms have classes in circuit training or interval training, but you can also interval train on your own.

Interval training is simply a short burst (up to three minutes) of accelerated exercise, such as a sprint, or a fast stair-climb, followed by a slower, more moderate pace of a similar exercise, followed again by the accelerated exercise, and then by a slower pace, and so on. The slow paced “interval” gives you time to recover and recoup energy which enables you to exert more energy in the fast interval (and overall) than you could if exercising at a consistent pace. Thus, your metabolism has even more chance to improve.

6. Something fishy

Not all fats are bad, indeed, some can help you to increase metabolism. Omega-3 fats have been shown in several studies to help overweight people burn more calories.

Fish is a great way to get a healthy dose of omega-3 fat. To boost metabolism, try eating fish at least twice a week. Grill or oven bake fish fillets as a main meal or toss some tuna or salmon into a salad for lunch. Fish oil and oyster sauce also make great flavour additions to curry and stir-fry dishes.

Reproduced with permission from CalorieKing.com.au. All material copyright CalorieKing.com.au

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