At university I was renowned for my ability to eat an entire carry bag of fries. Somehow, I also managed to stay like a french fry despite my voracious appetite for food and nights out. As the years go by many of my clients ask why they continue to eat less yet gain more. You may not be able to bottle your metabolism from your teens but you can give it a recharge by eating the right foods.
Metabolism refers to the chemical processes that maintain normal, body function. This requires energy that ultimately comes from food. Basic bodily functions make up 50 to 80 percent of kilojoule expenditure; food digestion around 10 percent and moving around about 20 percent. If you eat or drink more kilojoules than needed for metabolism then this is stored as fat.
You may have one of those friends that hoovers food yet still slips, lithely into a bikini. Everyone is born with a different metabolism. Men generally have faster ones than women and as you age your metabolism slows due to loss of muscle tissue and hormonal and neurological changes. The amount of body fat and body size also impacts how you burn kilojoules as does any infection or illness.
Exercising and resistance training are metabolism boosters. Muscle mass has an appetite for kilojoules and the more you have the more you burn. This continues to happen even when you’re resting. High interval training has been shown to be more beneficial at boosting your metabolism. Try sprints followed by rest rather than slow continuous exercise and you’ll raise your metabolism for longer afterwards.
Move more. Small boosts during the day such as taking the stairs instead of the lift or parking further away from your destination will all provide an extra little lift to your metabolism. Avoid dieting as eating fewer kilojoules encourages the body to slow metabolism to conserve energy.
Increase your protein and you’re going to increase your metabolism. Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) refers to the amount of energy your body needs to maintain homeostasis. Protein raises BMR by 20-30 percent compared to fat 0-15 percent and carbohydrate 5-10 percent. Protein is going to also help you build more muscle mass so increase your intake of lean meat, seafood, legumes and quality dairy products.
Hot spicy foods can also raise your BMR. Capsaicin is a compound that makes hot chilli peppers spicy. Add any chilli to your food and you’re going to accelerate your metabolism. Caffeine has also been shown to temporarily increase metabolism, but its effect can be limited and a tolerance usually develops over time.
Sleep is essential to an effective metabolism. Leptin and ghrelin are hormones that control appetite and energy expenditure. Consistently poor sleep has been shown to alter these hormones leading to an increased appetite during the day and a sluggish metabolism. Alcohol is also a metabolism killer. It hinders our fat metabolism and leads to more fat storage in the body.
Metabolism relies on your ability to remain fit while being smart about the foods you eat. No one can turn back the clock, but you can work harder to keep a metabolism that’s similar to your early years. A small bag of fries is enough for me now.