When trying to lose weight, the first thing many dieters should attempt to do is to increase their metabolism. A faster metabolic rate will help you to lose weight much more quickly as the body is burning a greater amount of energy every minute of the day. We all know someone who can inhale a big bowl of pasta and never gain a pound. These lucky individuals are blessed with a high metabolic rate. And while one’s metabolism is at least partially determined by genetics, everyone has the power to increase their metabolism to burn more calories throughout the day.
What is Metabolism?
By definition, metabolism is the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life. To be more specific for our purposes, it is the breaking down of protein, fat and carbs (that is to say calories) to yield the energy your body needs. We burn calories around the clock, including when we are sleeping. A small portion of our energy needs are static and determined by genetics. But we have the ability to alter our energy needs (thus increasing or decreasing our metabolism) through certain lifestyle choices. One’s metabolism is constantly in flux and can be affected by diet, activity level, stress, genetics, and illness.
Signs of an Increased Metabolism
An increased metabolism or a high metabolism can be characterized by a seemingly inability to gain weight, nervousness, insomnia, and a high body temperature (less prone to feeling cold). For people with a high metabolism who regularly feel warm and break out into sweats, it is especially important to consume fluids throughout the day to keep the body temperature in check.
In men, increased levels of testosterone can also lead to a heightened metabolic state. Testosterone is anabolic which means it contributes to muscle growth and bone development. Recent studies have suggested that men can raise their testosterone levels by 45% by abstaining from ejaculation for a period of seven days. Weightlifting and sprinting have been demonstrated as other natural methods for increasing one’s testosterone.
How to Increase Your Metabolism
There are several highly effective, all-natural ways to go about increasing one’s metabolism. Let’s start with the most important:
Build muscle. Each extra pound of muscle on your body can burn up to 50 calories daily in order to sustain itself. In order to build muscle, you need to follow one simple rule: lift heavy things. By challenging your body with strength training exercise, you are triggering a metabolic process that requires your body to work hard to repair itself following an intense exercise. This leads to more energy being used by your body even while you are sleeping. The more intense your training, the higher your metabolism will be. It’s about turning your body into a machine. This is why Michael Phelps can eat 12,000 calories a day and still have almost no body fat.
Get adequate sleep. Failing to sleep sufficiently each night can decrease the calories your body burns maintaining normal bodily functions during resting states. Stress hormone levels, specifically cortisol, increase due to an inadequate night’s sleep. Cortisol antagonizes testosterone levels in the body and lowers metabolism. It’s important to take the time to relax each day to keep stress hormones in check.
Eat more protein. When you eat protein, the hormone glucagon is released which tells fat cells to release their contents into the blood stream. Protein requires nearly twice as much energy to digest as carbohydrates. By shifting to a diet in which a higher proportion of calories are derived from protein and lower proportions from fat and carbs, an increased metabolism follows suit.
Drink green tea. In two ways, green tea promotes an increased metabolism. First, it contains a chemical called EGCC which has a small impact on the metabolism. Green tea also contains caffeine, a stimulant which has been proven to increase metabolism.
Move around as much as possible. The modern human moves less than any of our ancestors. We have desk jobs and DVRs to thank for this phenomenon. It requires conscious effort, but move around more throughout the day. Create a work space that allows you to stand for periods rather than sit. Go for a stroll on lunch break. Take the stairs, not the escalator. Buy a treadmill to walk on while you catch up on your favorite TV shows. Move, move, move!
Stop messing with the thermostat. Certain research has suggested our reliance on air conditioners in the summer and heaters in the winter contributes to a lowered metabolism since our bodies are doing less work to keep us cool or warm depending on the time of the year. Commit to a five degree alteration in the typical thermostat setting you use. After a few days, you’ll be adjusted to the new climate, on your way to an increased metabolism, and saving money on your energy bills.