We’ve all heard people say things like “I’ve a slow metabolism” or “my metabolism slowed down after I had kids”. But what is metabolism? How can I influence my metabolism?
Your metabolism is simply a series of chemical processes in each cell that turn the calories we eat in food to fuel for our bodies to function. Every single cell in your body needs energy to function, without a metabolism we would not exist. Our metabolism can slow down with age, insufficient nutrient intake, high stress levels, lack of sleep or due to a disease. While there isn’t a huge amount we can do to influence our metabolism, we can support our thyroid to functional optimally, improve digestion and balance blood sugar. All of which will support healthy fat loss, improve energy levels and improve elimination of waste from our bodies.
1) Water – drinking at least 2 litres of fresh water everyday.
2) Sleep – getting at least 8 hours of restful sleep is extremely important to support your overall physical and mental health
3) Eat while sitting and relaxing. Too often we eat on the run, gobble down food without even thinking about it. We should be resting and digesting, allowing our body time to be in parasympathetic mode and not stressed out, working, driving or rushing to our next meeting.
4) Have a hot drink, like miso soup, a herbal tea or hot water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice about 30 minutes before our meal. This signals to our stomach that food is on the way and triggers the digestive system to kick into action. This is especially important if
you are not preparing the meal yourself. If you prepare the meal yourself, the smell of the food being prepared will begin this process.
5) Combine steady state cardio exercises like running or walking, with HIIT types exercises. We are adaptive organisms and our body will adjust to the exercise routine we usually do, so mix it up by doing different combinations and at different times.
Going for a brisk walk after a meal is great too.
6) Eat small regular meals. If you struggle with your weight, or get blood sugar highs / lows, then eating small and regular meals, may help to improve this. A 12 week study, on 2 groups of overweight people showed that one group who ate 2,000kcals divided into 5 meals reduced a significant amount of body fat and gained muscle. While those who ate 3 meals a day, reduced their overall body weight equal to the first group, but they lost more muscle and their body fat did not actually reduce. The first group too had a significant reduction in their blood sugar levels, while the 2nd group saw no significant change.
If you are eating 2 to 3 meals a day now and are not overweight, have stable blood sugar levels, thyroid function is optimal and are not usually stressed, then stick with 2 to 3 meals a day and ignore the above point.
7) Eat breakfast. Eating in the morning, signals to your body that food is here, the fast is over and you can stop reserving stored fat. Having breakfast also helps to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.
8) Avoid caffeine and other stimulants. This might sound obvious but taking, drinking or eating stimulants is counter productive and can slow down your metabolism IF you already have a sluggish thyroid, imbalanced blood sugar levels, sleeping difficulties or are stressed out. If you are none of these things, caffeine isn’t much of a problem, so enjoy one coffee a day!
9) Eat hot foods – adding chillies, ginger, wasabi, horseradish, English mustard and black pepper are not only flavour enhancing, but they increase the amount of calories used to break down the food and turn it to energy (Postprandial thermogenesis)
10) Time restricted eating – Aim to finish your last meal as early as you can in the evening. Research has shown that leaving at long gap between your last evening meal and breakfast boosts metabolism, supports sleep, blood sugar balance, liver detoxification pathways, digestion and mood. I suggest avoiding snacking or drinking anything, (with the exception of water) after you’ve had dinner. For example: finish dinner at 7pm, don’t eat anything until breakfast the next morning at 7am. Leaving 12 hours has shown great results, but the most substantial benefits comes if you leave a 15 hour gap.
11) Get outside in daylight. Being exposed to daylight supports our circadian rhythm, helps us to sleep better and in the summertime provides us with vitamin D. In the winter months, it is important that you supplement with vitamin D. Being surrounded by nature and greenery helps to reduce stress so that’s even better. Try do yoga outside or have lunch in the park.