Your metabolism is responsible for converting nutrients from the foods you eat into fuel. This provides your body with the energy it needs to breathe, move, digest food, circulate blood, and repair damaged tissues and cells.

However, the word “metabolism” is also used to describe your basal metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn at rest). The higher your metabolic rate, the more calories you burn at rest. Many factors can affect your metabolism, including your age, diet, body composition, sex, body size, physical activity, health status, and any medications you’re taking. Restrictive diets can sometimes lead to a slow metabolism, too, and is often the result of “yo-yo” dieting.

“Boosting” your metabolism can help you burn more calories and get fast, effective weight loss.  Here are some easy strategies to help increase your metabolism to support weight management and overall health:

Strength Training

Studies have shown that muscle mass decreases approximately 3–8% each decade after the age of 30 and that this rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60. Weight training or resistance training is often found to be the most effective method of increasing Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), as building muscle mass takes more energy “calories” to build and maintain muscle mass. So having a higher muscle mass helps you burn more calories even at rest. To build muscle mass, you should do weight training for 20 to 30 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week to see results. You should lift appropriately for your personal ability but try to target all your major muscle groups at least twice throughout your weekly workouts.

Fun fact: 1 pound of muscle requires six calories a day compared to 1 pound of fat, which burns four calories a day.

Drink Green Tea

There are many benefits to drinking green, as it may improve mental alertness, relieve digestive symptoms and headaches, and help with weight loss. Studies have shown that drinking at least 3 cups of green tea a day can help boost your metabolism and in result assist with weight loss. Green tea contains many healthy substances that your body can benefit from, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which helps boost metabolism in addition to its antioxidant properties and its ability to improve cognitive function by supporting brain health.

Fun fact: Green tea is one of the least processed types of tea. It was used in Chinese and Indian medicine to control bleeding and heal wounds.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important factors to consider when trying to lose weight and keep your metabolism moving. It is recommended that adults sleep at least 7 hours a night for optimal sleep. However, sleeping anything less than 6 hours on a regular basis can result in making poorer food choices, increased hunger calorie intake, decreased physical activity, and ultimately, weight gain.  This can ultimately lead to obesity, diabetes, depression and many more conditions. Furthermore, studies have shown that sleep deprivation can alter the glucose metabolism and hormones involved in regulating metabolism.

Fun fact: Insufficient sleep is associated with higher levels of the hormone ghrelin, which increases appetite, and lower levels of the hormone leptin, which leads to feeling full.

Eat Regular Meals

Eating very few calories a day or following a diet lower than 1000 calories for a consistent period can lead to slower metabolism. When you dramatically lower your calorie intake, your body senses that food is scarce and lowers the rate at which it burns calories. It just holds onto everything as if it’s in emergency. Interestingly, a study that was done on obese women following a 420 calories plan for 4 to 6 months showed a significant reduction in their metabolic rate. In addition, going too long between meals (3 to 4 hours) can cause your metabolism to slow down.

Fun fact: If you exercise and follow a low restrictive, low-calorie diet, your body clings to those calories to get energy, which makes it harder to take weight off.

Eat Foods that Boost Metabolism

There has been much research about different foods that increase fat burning and aid in fat loss. For example, peppers and chilies contain a substance called capsaicin that research has shown may cause weight loss by suppressing appetite and increasing fat burning. In addition, curcumin intake may improve weight and metabolic rate, thanks to its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, through boosting basal metabolic rate (BMR), which could lead to increased energy expenditure.

According to a study conducted at Tufts University, curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) can suppress fat tissue growth.

Protein causes the largest rise in the thermic effect of food (TEF) because it requires extra calories to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal. Eating more low-fat proteins also helps prevent muscle loss which is a common side effect of dieting.

Drinking coffee can significantly increase your metabolism. Research has shown that caffeine can trigger the body to release neurotransmitters like epinephrine, which helps regulate the way your body processes fat.

Fun Fact: It has been suggested that 10 grams of red chili peppers daily aids in fat loss.

So, remember, although it’s tempting to want to “crash diet” or lose weight quickly by skipping meals or fasting, to achieve healthy long-term weight loss, it’s essential to adopt a holistic approach that includes a balanced diet, good hydration, and some form of regular exercise. Fast weight loss can be achieved safely with the help of a medical weight loss team qualified to reduce your calorie intake with a specific formula that protects lean muscle and burns fat. Especially if you choose to use a weight loss medication like GLP-1 or phentermine, working with a nutritionist or diet coach can increase your results and give you the best chance of reaching your goal. They can explore the underlying causes of a slow metabolism and offer you a tailored food plan. Only a healthcare professional may accurately assess your metabolism.

Always consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet or exercise routine, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.

Written by Lynn Chaar, Certified Nutritionist at LivLight Weight Loss

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