Usually, over the winter, it’s normal for people to put on a few pounds. Of course, as the days get longer and warmer, everyone wants to shed that winter weight overnight. It was easier when you were younger, wasn’t it? No… don’t blame your age! Next likely culprit – your metabolism!
Simplifying your mysterious metabolism
When you think of the word ‘metabolism,’ does it sound like something complicated and mysterious? It’s not really. Your metabolism is less complicated than you think. Simply put, your metabolism is the amount of calories (or energy) that you need daily. Most of those calories, about 70%, are used for everyday functions such as breathing, blinking, blood circulation and more. Only 20% acts as fuel for our physical activities. That 20% physical activity isn’t found in exercise alone; walking, fidgeting and simply standing upright are all activities that require a portion of our metabolism. Finally, 10% aids in the digestion of what we eat. Eating can burn calories, indeed. However, when you consume more than you burn, you’re headed for trouble.
Why is your metabolism slow?
If you’re looking for someone to blame for your metabolism, look to your parents for this one. Family genes can greatly contribute to your metabolism. Some people are blessed with a high metabolism that has been passed down to them through their genes. Others have to work a little harder but anyone can maximize their metabolic burn.
Ever heard the phrase life isn’t fair (it was one of my mom’s favorite…)? Men not only have an easier time building lean muscle that burns fat, they also naturally have a higher metabolism. The average man has a metabolism that is 10-15% higher than that of a woman’s. Men have more muscle mass than women, which accounts for why they burn more calories. Also, our bodies are designed to hold onto fat for things like pregnancy. So, what’s a girl to do?
Great news! You can make your metabolism faster, even with the factors just mentioned. Here are ten metabolism-boosting secrets.
10 ways to make your metabolism faster
- Exercise more. The fact is that you need muscle to burn fat. What better way to get muscle than to work out more often? Exercise is what will help you build muscle and muscle is what will help your body burn calories, even when at rest. Also, if you want to delay or even perhaps prevent your metabolism from slowing down, exercise is the way to do it.
Alternating between interval training and cardio routines 5 days a week will jump-start your metabolism and help you lose weight.
- Make cardio a close friend. Interval training is a mainstay at Bootique Fitness because they know that aerobic intervals will help you increase your burn, and potentially double the number of calories you shed during exercise. Another great benefit of interval training is hat is helps keep your metabolic rate higher than a steady pace routine. When I was 25 trying to lose weight, I did the same exercises at the same intensity daily. My body wasn’t challenged to do anything different. If you want your body to become learn and burn mroe fat, you have to incorporate intervals to keep your body guessing.
Do cardio that is right for you; just remember that all cardio isn’t created equal. Routines that are best are the ones that require your body to use more than one muscle group. Do a variety of activities at varying levels of intensity to build muscle and increase metabolism.
- Build muscle. The arms have it. That is to say that building muscle shouldn’t simply be restricted to muscles below the waist. Your upper body can and should be toned as well. A lot of women avoid strength training or weights to help build muscle. They don’t want to appear too ripped. However, a comprehensive strength training routine will turn your body into a fat-burning machine. Every area: cores, chest, arms, shoulders, etc, can be worked out and toned in order to build more muscle (and we know muscle burns fat). In order to avoid bulking up in a way you don’t like, start small and increase your strength training over time.
- Eat (How simple and fun is that?). Eating is that 10% of our metabolism that burns calories, so make sure you don’t skip meals. The more frequently you eat, the more your metabolism kicks up. Missing a meal or eating infrequently can make your metabolism crawl because your body is trying to hold on to the food you do eat for fear that it won’t get more energy. Keep your meals light and your snacks even lighter. Healthy meals around 300-400 calories and snacks around 200-300 calories will really keep your body at optimum fat-burning levels.
- Eat smart. Protein, protein, protein. That’s one of the smartest foods you can eat. Be sure to include protein in every meal. Your body needs protein to build muscle and protein takes more energy (calories) to digest. Salmon, chicken, yogurt and eggs are all great sources of protein. Between meals, snack on nuts. Almonds and walnuts are tasty and can add protein to your diet.
Also, eating foods that are slow to release sugar needed to sustain energy is a great idea. Whole grain breads and pastas, as well as certain high fiber fruits are some examples of foods that fit that criteria. Eat a high fiber food a few hours before working out and you’ll burn extra fat. A little known fact is that caffeine can help boots your metabolism (just go easy on the cream and sugar to avoid adding unnecessary calories). Additionally, more than 2 cups per day can have the opposite affect and create fatigue.
- Breakfast of champions. Skipping breakfast is the worst moves for your metabolism. Eating breakfast will take your metabolism form a crawl to a sprint. Cortisol (the agent that helps you build muscle) is highest in the morning. Eating a morning meal will keep your body tuned up and help turn those calories into muscle quickly. And since the morning is the only time this happens, its imperative for you to eat breakfast and capitalize on your body’s willingness to build muscle. Any breakfast won’t do. Whole grains, protein like eggs and high fiber foods are the best foods to get your day started.
- Forget the sit. Spending too much time sitting is not good for your metabolism, even if you exercise regularly. One simple way to rectify that is by breaking up your daily sitting spells. Take a stroll, use your lunch break to take a walk or simply stretch at your desk. NEAT, nonexercise activity thermogensis, is what scientists call it. There has even been a study on those who use NEAT principles and those who don’t. The ones who didn’t move much during the day tended to gain weight at a higher rate than those who did not. When you on the phone, try standing or strolling as you talk. Use a balance ball in place of a desk chair. Anything that can get you moving is fair game to boost your metabolism.
- Catch your zzzz’s. Don’t underestimate the power of sleep; and how the lack thereof can effect you. In face, when get just two hours less sleep than you normally do, your system becomes stressed and produces about 50% more cortisol. Why is that bad? It’s bad because more cortisol triggers an increased appetite. Less sleep equals more weight gain. A study cited that women who got only six hours of sleep were 12% more likely to gain weight and those who got less than five hours of sleep were 32% more likely to gain weight. Bottom line: keep your weight in check by getting enough sleep.
- Workout at night (sometimes). Doing a 20-30-minute moderate-intensity cardio exercise routine before you wind down for bed can help keep your metabolism high. Usually a woman’s metabolic rate decreases by 15%. That is a natural occurrence. However, with a last night cardio routine, you can curb that number to just 5% drop off. If you’re concerned that the late night cardio session will keep you up at night, be sure to time your workout more than two hours from when you plan to turn in for the night.
- Monitor your meds. Birth control pills and some prescribed antidepressants can lower your metabolic rate because they affect the thyroid gland, which helps regulate how our bodies use energy. If you’ve recently began taking medication that you believe has led to weight gain, consult your doctor on alternatives that will not produce the weight gain side effect.