5 Facts About Your Metabolism

Everyone wants to increase their metabolism. Remember when you were young and could eat anything you wanted and not gain weight? As we get older, this is not the case. The truth is that you’re genetically programmed to be either a fast metabolizer or a slow metabolizer. There’s nothing you can do to change your genetics, but you can work with what you’ve got.

Here are five ways to stoke the fire and keep that energy burning.

1. Work it out

The number one way to increase your metabolism is to exercise. Cardio burns calories while you’re working out. Strength training builds muscle. Muscle continues to burn calories even post-workout, so while you’re sitting at your desk after an intense training session (High Intensity Interval Training is especially effective and a personal favorite), your body is continuing to work for you. Large muscles—quads, glutes and hamstrings—burn a lot of calories, so the bigger those muscles, the higher your metabolic rate.

2. Increase your intake of lean protein

Fish, beans, tofu, eggs and lean beef will all help to build muscle which will, in turn, help increase your metabolism.

3. Get a coffee

Caffeine gives your mind and body a quick metabolic boost. It’s best if it doesn’t come in the form of a high-sugar or high-fat drink. Recent claims of green tea boosting your metabolic rate are the result of nothing more than the caffeine in the drink. There’s a feeling of diuresis (increased urination) that makes people feel thinner, but the actual metabolic rate is no different with green tea or coffee.

4. Skip the supplements

There are no proven medical studies that show any specific supplement will help raise your metabolism. A healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and grains will provide all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to do everything it needs to on a cellular level. Save your money.

5. Know the facts

People claim that skipping breakfast slows your metabolism. This is not true (however it’s not a good idea regardless, as skipping breakfast tends to decrease your mental clarity). Small frequent meals won’t boost your metabolism either. It’s the amount of calories in minus the amount of calories out (burned through exercise) that determines your weight. What about sleep? Not getting enough can throw off the gut hormones leptin and ghrelin. The balance of these two hormones helps to control hunger during waking hours. A recent study (conducted with men, but can be extrapolated to women), shows that adequate sleep does have a positive influence on your metabolic rate.

In summary, your metabolism has been genetically predetermined. There’s nothing you can do to change it, but you can increase your metabolic rate with healthy eating and exercise. A diet high in lean protein and low in processed foods and carbs can help. Work out with a combination of HIIT, cardio and strength training 3-5 days a week, get enough sleep and start your morning with a cup of coffee—and you’re on the right track!

For more from Nancy, read her recent columns and visit her online.

Ben Kruger