Metabolism is a word that is often thrown around when discussing diet and exercise. Most people know that a slow metabolism results in a slower burn off of your food which means weight loss is going to be more difficult. Those with a fast metabolism easily burn off their food with little effort.
People with a slow metabolism often use this as an excuse for being overweight, for overeating (or under eating) or for being unhealthy.
While it can be somewhat of a health issue, it is not one that cannot be altered. But before learning how to speed up metabolism, you first need to understand the way your body’s metabolism works.
What is Metabolism?
When you talk about metabolism it basically refers to all the chemical reactions that break down complex molecules (known as a catabolic reaction) with the production of energy.
That energy is then used to build up these complex molecules (known as an anabolic reaction), so the body can take care of itself and new tissue can develop. Every time you consume and digest food, your body is going through a metabolic reaction.
For instance, digestion is considered a catabolic reaction because food molecules are large and need to be broken down in order to go through your digestive system and into your body’s bloodstream. Once they are broken down into these much smaller molecules, they can now easily go into the bloodstream and then carried into your body’s cells.
Now taking this process even further and understanding where these nutrients go, and how they are broken down is another part of metabolism. The metabolic pool refers to all these smaller molecules whereby the nutrients are broken down.
This pool includes simple sugars (the breaking down of complex carbohydrates), glycerol and fatty acids (from lipid conversion or fats) and amino acids (formed from protein break down). All these broken down nutrients are used to create new tissue—the anabolic reaction of metabolism.
This understanding of how your food is broken down and then used to sustain you as well as building up new tissue is important when it comes to finding ways to speed up your metabolism. Yes, you can speed it up, but it comes with some patience, persistence and a lot of hard work and commitment.
Lift Weights to Speed Up Metabolism
One way to speed up metabolism is by building muscle. All those grunts and groans from people lifting heavy weights can actually have a boosting effect on your metabolism. It may be difficult to fathom, but your body is always burning calories whether you are exercising, sitting still or sleeping.
However, the rate at which it burns those calories differs. If you have muscle, your resting metabolic rate is higher. Why? Science proves that muscle is more metabolically active than fat. In other words, having more muscle increases your caloric burn while at rest.
Now when you weight train with a variety of rep ranges, your muscles are being challenged and you set a turbulence in your body. This turbulence forces your body to burn more calories to recover, increasing your resting metabolism and burning more fat. In other words – start lifting.
Exercise with Purpose
Walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike is will not do much for speeding up your metabolism and can lead to overuse injuries. Metabolic resistance training has been scientifically proven to increase your metabolic rate.
This type of training program utilizes supersets and/or circuits so that your rest time is minimal, which keeps your heart rate elevated. With this type of workout, you are going from one exercise to another incorporating incomplete recovery and weight training to produce an increase in your resting metabolic rate.
Eat Differently for a Metabolic Boost
Much research has been spent in figuring out which foods can speed up a person’s metabolism. The truth is that nothing compares to eating whole, natural foods. Sure, there are studies that are trying to prove the cold water effect as well as using hot spices to rev up metabolism, but these little things don’t compare to a diet of natural foods. These types of foods are beneficial for the short and long term.
Increasing your protein has been shown it takes more energy to digest compared with fat and carbohydrates. You certainly don’t have to obsess about it, but increasing your protein intake while still in a calorie deficit can help you with burning more calories. Proteins include fish, eggs, chicken or low fat dairy.
Black coffee with its high caffeine content provides more than just a morning energy boost. It can also create an increase in your metabolic rate, although it is only a short-term benefit.
Drinking two to four cups of green tea can also give your metabolism a boost that can last for several hours. Research has shown that drinking that much green tea each day can make the body burn seventeen percent more calories than usual. Again, this is a short-term boost, but if you do it every day, it will certainly start adding up.
If you do not like green tea or want to try something new, oolong tea is supposed to provide the same metabolism boost as green tea.
According to Dr. Oz, “Oolong tea contains polyphenols that help block fat-building enzymes. This young tea is low in caffeine so you can drink it throughout the day for continued results. Research shows that your metabolism will be raised for two hours after every cup of oolong.”
There are many safe and effective ways to speed up your metabolism. By incorporating all these methods, you not only give your metabolism a boost, but you are also creating some healthy new habits in the process.
And in the end, that is what your ultimate goal should be—living the healthiest life possible.
Craig Ballantyne, CTT
Certified Turbulence Trainer