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Before you make a ‘to do’ list of everything you can do to boost your metabolism, it may be wise to find out what you are doing every day that is slowing down your metabolism. Andrea du Plessis gives some valuable tips on how to boost your metabolism, naturally.
Your body’s metabolism relates to vital bodily functions as well as physical activity that require energy. Your metabolic rate gives an indication of the energy expenditure by your body to maintain these actions and activities.
WHAT SLOWS DOWN METABOLISM?AgeingWith ageing, there is a gradual decrease in your body’s metabolic rate and subsequent energy expenditure at rest. This offers some explanation as to why we tend to gain weight as we age, but activity levels generally decrease with ageing, further reducing energy expenditure. Dieting/skipping mealsDieting and/or skipping meals has significant effects on your metabolic rate as these actions result in an energy deficiency, putting your body’s survival tactics in gear to conserve energy by slowing down your metabolic rate. Frequent ‘dieting’ may decease your normal energy expenditure by up to 14%!
Physical inactivityPhysical inactivity is a sure way of economising your metabolism. Research has shown that sedentary people present the lowest metabolic rates.
MedicationSome medicines, including some antidepressants, can slow down the body’s metabolic rate, sometimes resulting in weight gain. Consult your doctor first before making changes to prescription medication.
CAN YOU SPEED UP YOUR METABOLISM?Yes you can. Exercise and stimulants are well-known metabolic boosters, but eating habits are seldom considered to boost metabolism.
Eating Where skipping meals can contribute to your metabolism slowing down, eating can indeed help speed up your metabolism. Meal size and frequency: Smaller, more frequent meals tend to increase metabolic rate. Eating breakfast in the morning is known to kick-start your metabolism, which is one of the reasons it is considered the most important meal of the day.
Meal composition: Protein-rich foods tend to speed up the metabolic rate through thermogenesis, while fatty foods seem to slow down the digestive process and subsequently energy metabolism.
ExerciseExercise is most definitely the most effective and safest way to boost your metabolism and it does this through three mechanisms:-Energy expenditure during exercise: It is no surprise that your body’s energy expenditure is increased during exercise. -Extra energy expenditure after exercising at high intensity for long durations: Did you know that high intensity exercise for longer durations can increase your metabolic rate so much that you burn off extra kilojoules, even at rest and for long after you stopped exercising? Exercising at a high intensity for 45 minutes and longer can result in your body burning off extra kilojoules for up to 16 hours after you have stopped exercising. -Increased muscle mass: It is often mentioned that muscle tissue burns more energy than your fat reserves. That is indeed true, which is why exercise that helps to increase lean muscle mass and decrease body fat, can help speed up the body’s metabolism. Increasing your muscle mass results in your body burning more energy, even at rest.
StimulantsThere is a multitude of stimulants that speed up the body’s metabolism, some rated as safe, but most of them have some detrimental effects and some can be lethal.
Herbs -The herbal remedies that are effective at speeding up fat metabolism without harming your health include Garcinia cambogia, green tea and caffeine-rich herbs such as guarana. Some herbal metabolic boosters increase heart rate and blood pressure, so it is always best to check with your doctor before using them.Dietary metabolic boosters: The fat-burning process in the body can be increased by consuming coffee (due to caffeine), green tea (due to caffeine and tea antioxidants), and chillies (due to capsaicin). Spices such as mustard and curry spices also seem to increase the metabolism. Green tea speeds up the fat-burning process not only through the caffeine, but mostly through green tea antioxidants, resulting in a negative energy balance of up to 300 kilojoules per day. -Fat-burning drugs: Most fat-burning drugs are harmful since they increase heart rate and blood pressure. Some fat-burning drugs are dangerous, highly toxic and even potentially lethal, with substances such as dinitrophenol (DNP) causing the death of unsuspecting dieters. Consult a registered dietitian or your doctor before taking any fat-burning drugs.
Why bother exercising if it makes you eat more?Exercise generally increases appetite and this often results in post-exercise meals with more kilojoules than were burned during the exercise session. This is notable in women, who struggle with weight gain after starting an exercise programme. The secret to fixing this problem is exercise intensity. Very high intensity exercise suppresses post-exercise appetite through suppressing ghrelin, the ‘hunger hormone’.
8 tips to boost your metabolism naturally■ Do not skip meals, especially not breakfast■ Smaller frequent meals best support a fast metabolism■ Opt for high-protein foods rather than those high in fat■ Drink green tea daily■ Consult a dietician or your doctor before investing in a fat-burning supplement■ Exercise for 30 to 60 minutes three to five times per week■ High intensity exercise burns more kilojoules for longer and can suppress appetite■ Alternate aerobic and resistance exercise for best results.
ANDREA DU PLESSIS, BSC (Dietetics), MPHIL (Exercise Science)
She is a registered dietician with a passion for healthcare through nutrition, natural remedies and a healthy lifestyle. As head of customer care at Vital Health Foods, she regularly presents talks and educational workshops on nutritional supplements and natural healthcare.
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