What is metabolism? 

According to Robert Yanagisawa, MD, director of the Medically Supervised Weight Management Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center, metabolism is “The rate at which we burn our calories and, ultimately, how quickly we gain weight or how easily we lose it.” For most it is the elusive word that experts define as either “fast or slow.”

You’ve likely heard someone comment on it before, “Oh she can eat that whole cake and not gain a pound, she was blessed with fast metabolism.”While not everyone has such luck, the following are some tips and tricks to speed up your metabolism.

Your metabolism is influenced by several factors, some modifiable, others not. The following factors are there, regardless of what lifestyle changes you make.

1.  Age:  Metabolism naturally slows down about 5% after age 40. 

2. Gender: Generally, men burn more calories than woman (so annoying, I know).

Fortunately, there are many more areas you have control over to modify your metabolism. The following factors can be improved upon to give a boost to your metabolism.

1. Exercise to increase your proportion of lean body mass.
Since men are naturally born with more lean body mass, this is the obvious reason why they have a faster metabolism. However, it is absolutely possible to improve upon your lean body mass. The most efficient way is to work those muscles. Every pound of muscle uses about 6 calories a day just to sustain itself, while each pound of fat burns only about 2 calories daily. That small difference can add up over time.

What kind of exercise? After resistance training, muscles are activated all over your body, increasing your average daily metabolic rate. But, any exercise will put your muscles into action!  

2. Eating meals and snacks.
Listen, I know that fasting is a popular diet trend right now.  It’s fine.  It may work for some people, but as with all diets, I don’t think it is a sustainable program.  I had a patient in my office a few months ago who was only eating 2 hours a day!  His weight loss had halted and he was starving.  Enter my solution – eating regularly – and he was able to lose another 12 pounds over a several month period.  Eating regularly helps maintain a balanced sugar level and prevents hunger.

Breakfast, still the most important meal of the day, revs metabolism by
“breaking” the “fast” your body has been in over night. Not skipping meals also helps us avoid overeating or “binging” later in the day.

3. Power eat with protein.
Research shows the body burns more calories digesting protein as it uses for fat or carbohydrates. Although you want to eat a balanced diet, and carbohydrates provide extremely important nutrients for activity, replacing some carbohydrates with lean, protein-rich foods can boost the metabolism at mealtime. Meaning, instead of two pieces of bread and chips at lunch, replace the chips with a string cheese or nuts.

Healthy sources of protein include:  lean beef, turkey, fish, white meat chicken, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, and dairy products.

4. Double up on your fruits and veggies (mainly veggies).
Research shows only 12% of US eat the recommended 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, 40% eat no fruit and 10-20% eat no vegetables. Fruits and vegetables have vitamins and minerals that are needed by virtually every function of our body. From better immunity and night vision to muscle and nerve function, these nutrients provide properties that no other food can provide. Fruits and vegetables have been proven to reduce risk for cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Not only are they missing out on crucial vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but also on fiber. Fiber is a metabolism super food. Fiber has been shown to help with weight loss, improve blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol.

5. Try some metabolism “super foods”.
It is true, there are actually some foods that can help boost metabolism. Now, most research shows that this increase is very small (possibly 10% for 30 minutes after intake), but it can’t hurt.

1. Coffee (yasssss!): If you are a coffee drinker, you probably enjoy the increased energy and concentration that follows your morning ritual. Taken in moderation, one of coffee’s benefits may be a short-term increase in your metabolic rate.

2. Tea: Drinking green tea or oolong tea offers the combined benefits of
caffeine and catechins, substances shown to rev up the metabolism for a couple hours. Research suggests that drinking two to four cups of either tea may push the body to burn 17% more calories than normal during moderately intense exercise for a short period of time.

3. Spicy food: Meals with spicy ingredients (i.e. hot peppers) may have the capability to increase your body’s metabolic rate by as much as 20%. But, watch out for heartburn and indigestion! It may not be worth the extra 20 calories.

Bottom line, it is possible to assist your body in increasing your metabolism.Don’t skip meals, eat more vegetables, get those muscles moving, and feel the calories burn!

Need more info!?  As usual give me a shout at contact@thedietitiandiet.com

*NOTE: This article originally appeared in Thrive Magazine – written by yours truly.