Why is it some people seem to remain thin no matter what they eat? They’re the ones you see in the restaurant eating a huge hamburger and fries while you use your smartphone to count the calories in your chicken breast and veggies and wonder why you can’t lose those extra 10 pounds. Metabolism could be the reason.
Put in simple terms, metabolism is how your body converts the food you eat into fuel and how efficiently your body uses that fuel. The rate your body burns that fuel (or calories) is directly related to losing or gaining weight.
There are certain factors that affect your metabolism you can’t change. One of them is your age. Your metabolism rate naturally begins to slow after age 40 — a little reminder from your body you’re no longer a youngster and need to start caring for your body in different ways. Another factor is your gender. Men generally burn more calories at rest than women. Such other factors as heredity or medical problems also can influence the rate your body burns calories. Although we might remain unable to change some things, the good news is there are things we can do improve our metabolism rate.
One of the best ways to boost your metabolism is exercise, including both cardiovascular exercises and strength training. Such cardiovascular exercises as running or biking burn many calories. While you might not burn as many calories with strength training, your body continues to burn calories long after your workout has ended.
This is important to know because muscle burns more calories than fat — a lot more. Every pound of muscle in our bodies can burn more than 30 calories a day, while each pound of fat burns only two to three calories a day. If you include strength training into your workouts, your muscles will work hard for you all day long.
Another way to improve your metabolism is through nutrition. You might be relieved to learn so-called “crash” dieting is NOT the answer. When you deprive your body of food, your metabolism slows down, causing the reverse effect. Then when you do eat, your body will hang onto those calories as if it were starving.
Most of us have attempted a diet that was unsuccessful. Chances are it didn’t work because our bodies weren’t supplied with enough nutrients to function normally. Then when we did eat — or cheat, as we probably called it — we probably overindulged. Don’t cut yourself short on the fuel that keeps you moving. Your best bet is to eat more often. Eating small, nutritious meals more frequently will help keep your metabolism going.
Here are some additional nutrition tips that can help increase the rate of your body’s metabolism. Add a little more protein to your diet. Your body uses more calories to digest protein than it does digesting carbohydrates. Protein-rich foods include turkey, fish, nuts, beans and eggs. Spice up your dishes with red pepper flakes. The chemical compound in spicy foods can temporarily increase your metabolism. And don’t forget to include water in your daily routine. Your body needs to hydration to properly use the calories you consume.
Many factors influence the rate at which your body burns calories, including age, gender and genetics. It’s easy to blame those extra pounds on factors you can’t change. But this doesn’t mean you have to settle for a slow metabolism. By exercising, building muscles and changing your eating habits, you can speed up the rate your body burns calories. The benefits will be evident not only in the way you feel, but also on the scale.