Making the right choices about your diet is a daily struggle for many. Occasional takeaway meals, crash diets, eating too much or too little can leave you feeling very anxious and conflicted as to what your body actually needs to function at its best.
Understand how your metabolism works, and you’ll be on your way to boosting your health and speeding up your weight loss.
What is metabolism?
Your metabolism sums up everything your body does. Every time you eat or drink, enzymes (protein molecules) in your body’s cells break down the food and turn it into energy. This energy keeps your heart beating, your mind thinking, and your legs working. Your genes, gender, age and size play a role in the speed of your metabolism. Those with more muscle than fat tend to have a faster metabolism because muscle cells need more energy to maintain them than fat cells do.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Your Basal Metabolic Rate is an important factor when it comes to your metabolism. It’s the minimum amount of energy your body needs to continue functioning normally while you’re resting, like sitting down and not doing anything. When you have a high BMR, your body needs more energy to function. If your BMR is low, that means your body can carry on as normal using low amounts of energy.
So, if you take in more calories than your body needs to function, the energy you don’t use gets stored as that thing we want to avoid – fat! As you get older, your metabolism may slow down – this is partly because you are likely to lose some of your muscle tissue and gain more fat-tissue.
Rev up your metabolism
- First things first, toss away the junk food and add nourishing foods to your diet.
- Jumpstart your day with breakfast. After a night’s rest, your body has been fasting for around 10 to 12 hours, and is “starving” for fuel, so a healthy breakfast literally wakes up your metabolism. Pack your breakfast with fibre and protein, and say no to sugar and fats. Choose Vitamin D and calcium-rich foods, which, according to research, may increase fat oxidation rates during the day. People who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat later in the day.
- Replace your coffee with green tea. Research shows that green tea drinkers lose more weight than those who don’t drink the tea. In fact, two to four cups of green tea per day could help you burn an extra 200 to 300 kilojoules.
- Consciously add protein to each meal. Protein fills you up, helping you to feel fuller and preventing overeating.
- Starving? Drink a glass of water first. We often mistake thirst for hunger. A glass of water before meals also fills you up, which means you’re less likely to overeat.
- The more active you are; the more calories you burn. The great thing about exercise is that your metabolism continues to burn energy hours after your workout. It’s a good idea to go for high-intensity exercise as it delivers a bigger and longer increase in resting metabolic rate than low or moderate workouts.
- Muscle burns more calories than fat, so increase your muscle mass to lose weight. Do exercises that focus on your abdomen, legs, hips, back, chest, shoulders and arms; like body weight squats, push-ups, walking lunges and planks.