By Courtney LeVesque
Whether you are on a weight-loss mission, wanting to increase your overall fitness, or trying to regain your athleticism in your later years, you’ve likely heard quite a bit about metabolism. Your metabolism is a beautiful thing, especially when it is working for you, not against you. But, it also takes the blame as a major contributing factor in weight loss plateaus.
If you are someone that has worked to slim down, come back after having a baby, or undo the damage caused by emotional eating habits you’ve likely come head to head with this kind of plateau. What isn’t common knowledge is that even though you are losing weight, and gaining lean muscle, your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) slows as you drop those extra pounds. This is why it is critical to assess and reassess your caloric needs throughout your fitness journey – our bodies are always changing.
So what is metabolism anyway? Simply put, it is what converts the food you eat into energy – it can either run at optimal levels, and help you maintain a healthy weight, or run slow and contribute to weight gain.
The good news, especially for those wanting to lose body fat and increase lean muscle, is that you can make several small changes in your daily habits and increase your metabolism. If you want to turn your body into a fat-burning machine follow the tips below.
1. DRINK UP
Research shows that drinking at least 48 ounces of water a day can increase calorie burn by 50 calories a day. But do yourself a real favor and aim to get half of your body weight in ounces every day. Consistent water intake is an important factor in regulating fluid retention, and aids in the metabolic process.
Keep your water cold in order to burn more calories- this forces your body to work to “warm it up” (via thermogenesis) and in turn burns extra calories.
2. ADD FAT TO YOUR PLATE
Eating healthy fats is a great way of keeping your hunger at bay, and keeping you more satiated after meals. Adding in healthy fats can also reduce heart disease and regulate cholesterol levels – BONUS!
Try adding in small portions of these fat-filled foods: nut butter, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, olives, cashews, avocados, soybeans, and fish.
3. GET HORIZONTAL
Sleep is one of the biggest factors in your body running strong all day long, and if you’re not getting enough it will send the “slow down” signal to your metabolism.
If you want to give your body a real boost, aim for 7-8 hours of solid sleep.
If you struggle to conk out try these tips: skip the tv & phone before bed, read a book, take a hot bath, turn on white noise in the room, or add in safe, non-habit forming supplements like Unplug.
4. STOP THE YO-YO DIETING
“Diets” that restrict adequate calorie intake will kill your metabolism, and leave you feeling exhausted. Not to mention that even if you do lose some weight, you are much more likely to gain it back, maybe even more than you originally lost. Make sure that you’re meeting your calorie requirements – it’s easy to over or underestimate. Use an online calorie calculator, or work with a Certified Nutritionist to fine-tune your needs and understand your body.
Don’t skip meals. If you are busy, or unable to eat a meal, plan ahead with a healthy shake or protein bar.
You can also add in these fat-burning foods: protein, fibrous veggies, fish, eggs, and berries.
5. LIFT HEAVY THINGS
Improving your body composition and adding lean muscle mass will increase your metabolism, just be sure to reevaluate your caloric intake as your overall weight decreases.
The benefits of weight training don’t stop when your session is over – the “afterburn” keeps your metabolism running high long after your workout ends – another good reason to log those training sessions.
You are built to be a fat-burning machine. Do yourself a big favor and add in as many of these metabolism hacks into your day as possible, and see the results you are looking for.
Remember, even if you can only do a few of these, or get a short workout in, SOME IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN NONE. Each new healthy habit and choice you make is getting you one step closer to your ultimate goal.