Metabolism, the body’s process for breaking down foods in order to produce energy, is affected by many factors that are simply out of our control including gender, age and genetics. However, there are a number of ways that we can still naturally improve our metabolism and optimize the way our body stores energy, burns calories and resists weight gain. Here’s a look at what basic strategies can help you.
Make time for high-intensity workouts and muscle-building sessions
Participating in a high-intensity workout that keeps your heart pumping
When you’re going for a jog, taking a ride on your bike or visiting the gym, remember that high-intensity aerobic activity can play an important role in boosting your metabolism. While the metabolic effects of a low-intensity program wear off faster, intense workouts can keep your metabolism at a higher rate for hours after you engage in physical activity.
Even if you’re not at a stage in life right now to be able to run a mile or perform some other feat that is too demanding on your joints or health, you may still be able to introduce here and there some small bursts of speed and intensity in an otherwise conservative routine. Gradually increase the demands of your exercise program in order to safely up your level of conditioning. According to your circumstances, work with a healthcare professional when changing your exercise habits to make sure you are increasing the intensity at appropriate intervals that reflect your body’s needs and limitations.
Using a strength training program to build more muscle mass
Part of the reason why our metabolism slows down over time is because of our body’s lower muscle mass as we age. Even when you’re at rest, having more muscles uses up more calories than having fat. If you want to increase your resting metabolic rate, adopt a strength training program that helps you activate and build muscles all throughout your body.
There’s no need to fear, though: you don’t have to become a serious bodybuilder in order to see the metabolic benefits from having muscle. Every ounce more of muscle and ounce less of fat on your body can contribute to your overall goals of being healthy and feeling good. Appreciate the gradual changes that can come from even the most basic commitment to strength training.
Tailor your diet to feature important metabolism-boosting foods
Using chili peppers to flavor your foods
For a temporary metabolic boost, you can eat spicy foods like chili peppers, which house bioactive chemicals that can increase the number of calories your body burns. You don’t have to overdo the spices, though, just to see some results. You can simply add a tablespoon of chopped chili peppers or even just a dash of pepper flakes or chili powder seasoning into a dish.
Including lean proteins on the menu
Because your body burns more calories when digesting protein rather than carbohydrates or fats, eating more protein and less of the alternatives can actually help keep your metabolism on track. Of course, eating a healthy diet that’s low in saturated fats and empty calories will help you overall to be in a better position for reaching your personal health goals.
Spreading out your calories throughout the day
Eating a small meal every few hours can help keep your metabolism working at a higher pace than eating large meals that are spaced far apart. When snacking throughout the day, it’s important to decrease your portions at official mealtimes, though, so that your daily calorie consumption isn’t increasing. Although eating throughout the day can help burn more calories, this approach only works as part of a weight management program when you still keep your total calories in check.
Understanding the pros and cons of caffeine
Although caffeine can boost your metabolism, caffeine is a controversial stimulant because of the negative effects it can have on your cardiovascular health. Caffeine can also produce uncomfortable side effects including headaches, nausea, insomnia and anxiety. In severe cases, caffeine may be able to aggravate bleeding disorders, worsen diabetes and lead to osteoporosis. Personally, I feel best when staying away from highly-caffeinated picks like green tea, black coffee, energy drinks and certain dietary supplements, but everyone has to make one’s own decision when it comes to the topic of caffeine consumption.
Ensure you’re getting the necessary nutrients for the proper functioning of your body
Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water
In order to process calories, your body needs water, it’s that simple. When you’re dehydrated, your metabolism can slow down and you burn less calories. Make sure you’re drinking water throughout the day so that your body always has access to the needed liquid.
Avoiding an iron deficiency
Iron is essential for transporting oxygen and helping our bodies produce energy. Hence, a lack of iron can slow down our metabolism and lead to noticeable conditions like loss of appetite and fatigue. If you’re not getting enough iron naturally in your diet, you may want to take an iron supplement or a multivitamin with iron in it.
Giving your body access to vitamin D
Not having enough vitamin D has been associated with fat accumulation, decreased metabolic rates and weight gain. Vitamin D also plays an important part in helping your body absorb other necessary nutrients including iron, calcium and zinc. Your body can synthesize vitamin D from sun exposure and also dietarily access the needed nutrient from foods and supplements.
Intaking magnesium, potassium and other sleep-related essentials
When your sleep schedule is off, your metabolism slows down and all sorts of health problems can ensue. Deficiencies in various minerals including magnesium and potassium can contribute to poor sleeping habits. If your internal production of melatonin is lacking, you may also be in trouble. As needed, take a multivitamin and consider taking an additional supplement to improve your nighttime schedule and your metabolism. If you have serious problems with sleeping, consult your doctor to identify the possible causes of your situation and to rule out any severe health challenges that may be disrupting your ability to sleep.