There are a handful of practices you can incorporate into your lifestyle to help improve your metabolism.
It seems some people are blessed with fast metabolisms while others complain of slow ones. Like fingerprints, metabolism — the process of converting the food you eat into energy — is unique to each person and based on a variety of factors.
Your age, height, weight, sex and body composition all contribute to your individual metabolic rate. Having more lean muscle enables you to burn more calories at rest as compared to having more body fat. On the contrary, things that will slow your metabolism include age and under-eating, as your body will become more efficient with the calories consumed.
“If your metabolism has slowed down to adapt to your caloric intake, you can boost it back up by consuming more energy — food,” says McKenzie Flinchum, RD, LD/N, CPT, owner of The Flexible Dietitian LLC, who took first place at an NPC figure show in 2013. “Additionally, since lean muscle burns more energy than body fat, if you exercise and change your body composition from less fat to more muscle, your resting metabolic rate will increase.”
Even though there is no magic pill to boost your metabolism further than its natural rate, Flinchum says there are a handful of practices you can incorporate into your lifestyle to improve your metabolism:
Catch those zzz’s
Research shows that too little sleep increases cravings, feelings of hunger, and results in an increase in caloric intake. Less than six hours of sleep creates an imbalance in our hunger hormones. It gets worse, some studies show a link between poor sleep and insulin resistance, increasing the risk of diabetes. And the worst news is that even when we restrict our calories, we don’t reap the full benefits of our efforts because our fat cells still become more sensitive to insulin when we lose sleep. No wonder that shorter sleep durations are linked to higher body mass index.
Amount of food
Make sure you are eating enough. Not too much, not overeating — but enough to support your energy needs. “If your goals include weight loss, being in a caloric deficit is necessary,” Flinchum says. “But keep in mind that your body’s metabolic rate can slow down to become more efficient with the calories/energy that you are consuming.” So, if you are feeling like you are under-eating but your body is not losing any weight, your metabolism has likely been impacted. Use this signal to slowly start increasing your food intake to allow your metabolism to speed back up to its normal rate. Research now shows that "when you eat" is just as important as "what you eat." The same circadian rhythm that controls your sleep, also has an impact on blood sugar, insulin levels and fat storage. Studies show that a greater proportion of calories eaten late at night are stored as fat than if those same calories are eaten earlier in the day. Giving your digestive system a break, by refraining from eating after dinner or by eating within a window each day, can help improve your metabolism and boost weight loss success.
Don’t just stop at cardio when you’re planning your workouts. “Lifting weights and doing resistance training will build lean muscle, which will increase the amount of calories you burn at rest,” Flinchum explains. “As a result, your resting metabolic rate will be increased. Getting a good's night rest will help you have more energy to work out and then recover better afterward.
Start your day with a brisk walk outside, a few squats and jumping jacks in your home, or a trip to the gym. “While this won’t impact your long-term resting metabolic rate, the increase in your heart rate can be a good start to the day as it can help burn some extra calories and boost your energy,” Flinchum says. If you’re not a morning person, then you can do it later in the day — any type of movement that will burn calories and help burn body fat over time can have a positive impact on your metabolism.
Even though there is not a magic food that will boost your metabolism, eating a balance of nutritious foods can help you feel and look your best. “Eat a variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, and lean protein,” Flinchum says. “Aim for a good source of fiber at each meal, too.”
Bringing It All Together
If you start getting enough sleep and eating nutritious foods in replacement of added sugars, excess fats, or a lot of processed foods with high sodium content or low fiber, Flinchum says you may notice a difference after just a few days. “Incorporating more vegetables and fiber-rich foods will boost the fiber and micronutrient content of your diet,” she explains. “Exercising and increasing your heart rate will burn more calories instantaneously. In order to boost your metabolic rate by increasing lean muscle and decreasing body fat, it may take months of hard work and staying consistent with an exercise program, but it will pay off. Your body composition and metabolism will both change as a result.” Creating a lifestyle plan that addresses how to rev up your metabolism can improve your chances of reaching your weight loss goals.
Making multiple lifestyle changes is about getting into a healthy rhythm. Your body has an internal clock that coordinates the most important functions in your body, including sleep and metabolism. This is why consistency is so important. This internal process for regulating our daily habits and functions is called circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm not only manages our sleep function, but it is also linked to many other important activities in the body, like: immunity, brain health, liver function, digestion, blood sugar control and metabolism. Sleep is especially important for optimal metabolism, muscle repair, microbiome health, and fat storage.
If you are struggling with daytime fatigue and frustrated with your efforts to reach your weight management goals, RestoreZ can help. RestoreZ is a different kind of sleep product. In fact, it is a circadian rhythm product that influences sleep. It is designed to start helping you ease into sleep during the first week, but also help you resynchronize, enhance, and stabilize your circadian rhythm over the long term. Getting great sleep and having a strong circadian rhythm will help you have the energy during the day to be more active, improve exercise recovery, help control cravings, and improve metabolism. Changing your sleep can help you change your life.
Written by Jill Schildhouse for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.