You've probably heard wellness experts talk of "boosting" or "revving up" your metabolism to improve your wellbeing, but what does that actually mean?
Defined as the rate at which your body burns calories, your metabolism plays a pivotal role in converting the food you eat into usable energy. While most of us would appreciate a fast metabolism, this biochemical process slows down as we age and affects us in different ways. In fact, a slow metabolism can lead to unwelcome side effects such as mood swings, fatigue, food cravings, and weight gain.
Maybe you'd like to learn how to reset your metabolism, or even speed it up. What sounds like a challenging endeavor is actually rather simple if you follow a few steps. But before we discuss how to reset your metabolism, let's take a closer look at what it is, why it's important, and what you stand to gain from reclaiming control of this complex bodily process.
What Is Your Metabolism?
As you know by now, your metabolism is a broad term that describes the conversion of food into energy as a means of keeping your body alive and active. Though we talk about metabolism as if it's an organ or a muscle, it actually refers to a complex chemical process that takes place in each cell. From major organs like the heart and liver to processes like digestion and urination, metabolism powers all of it on a microscopic level. But there are different aspects of metabolism you should understand.
For instance, your basal metabolic rate (BMR), or resting metabolic rate, measures how much energy you use when your body is at rest. While major organs account for approximately half of your energy burned at rest, fat and muscles account for the rest. When your BMR slows down, whether due to age, muscle loss, or stress, you may experience fatigue, bloating, or difficulty losing weight.
It's also important to keep in mind that your metabolism is unique. No other person has the same body as you, which means nobody else has your metabolism. This explains why some people gain weight when they eat a large meal and others don't. Factors such as age, sex, demographics, and lifestyle habits are only a handful of variables that dictate your metabolism, and many others exist.
What Is Metabolic Syndrome?
Before we examine ways to speed up your metabolism, let's take a moment to discuss metabolic syndrome. Essentially, this affliction that affects 47 million Americans, or one in six people, describes a cluster of conditions such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol that increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.
Though we've identified many probable causes of metabolic syndrome, obesity and insulin resistance are two well-known culprits. Normally, your digestive system breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars before they enter the bloodstream. From there, insulin acts as a signal that tells your cells to pull sugar from your bloodstream for fuel. In people with insulin resistance, cells won't respond to insulin, and sugar can't enter your cells for energy. This can lead to diabetes and cardiovascular disease if left untreated.
Even if you haven't been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, it pays to understand what can happen when your metabolism isn't up to snuff.
How Can You Reset Your Metabolism?
Resetting your metabolism isn't as simple as pushing a button. To do so requires commitment and a willingness to adopt both short-term and long-term lifestyle habits. But don't let this reality discourage you from adopting these methods.
The process of resetting your metabolism simply means eating certain foods and supplements or taking personal initiatives that help your metabolism work faster. The benefits of doing so include weight loss, better sleep, higher energy levels and so much more. Below, we share the best ways to reset your metabolism.
Eat Plenty of Protein
Eating food can cause your metabolism to speed up for a few hours. We call this process the thermic effect of food (TEF), and it occurs when your body uses extra calories in order to digest, absorb, and process nutrients in your meal. So why eat protein? Well, protein has the highest TEF because it increases your metabolic rate by 15-30% (compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats). Eating protein also keeps you more full and prevents overeating, so there's less temptation to seek out food after you've had a high-protein meal.
Adopt High-Intensity Workouts
Maybe you're not fond of working out, but you'd be wise to adopt a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) regimen that focuses on quick and intense bursts of activity. Research suggests HIIT workouts can help you burn more fat by increasing your metabolic rate more than any other form of exercise.
Lift Heavy Things
Lifting engages large muscle groups that are more metabolically active than fat. Resistance training and strength training are two great ways to not only build muscle mass but retain it should you experience a drop in metabolism during fat loss.
Though it may come as a surprise, losing weight can actually slow down your metabolism because there’s simply less body weight to support it. That’s why it’s important to implement strength training and cardio so that muscle can keep your body metabolically active. Consider finding a personal trainer to effectively implement different forms of physical activity into your life.
Sleep quality, or how well you sleep, determines if your sleep is in fact restorative and restful. For instance, you can sleep for eight hours but wake in the night to loud noises or distractions, which is why it’s important to ensure you’re getting quality sleep. A lack of quality sleep is directly linked to an increase in the risk of obesity. Sleep deprivation can plague your metabolism, which is why you should get at least eight hours of sleep each night.
Eat Spicy Foods
Believe it or not, spicy foods have the ability to slightly increase your metabolism. That’s because capsaicin, the major ingredient that makes peppers so hot, promotes a bodily process known as thermogenesis. As your body heats up, it boosts your metabolism by burning additional calories. If you’re not a fan of spicy foods, capsaicin supplements are available to promote thermogenesis without the unwanted heat.
Eat Enough Food
We often include dieting with other healthy activities, but a lack of food can slow down your metabolism by switching it into "starvation" mode that forces it to use muscle for fuel. Dieting has its benefits, but maintaining muscle mass is more important, especially as you age.
Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) isn't for everyone, but it remains a viable practice that manages body weight and increases fat-burning hormones. Some research suggests short-term fasting can boost metabolism by causing a rise in norepinephrine, which promotes fat burning. Speak with a nutritionist before deciding if intermittent fasting is right for you.
Eat Less Processed Sugar
As tempting as ice cream and candy may be, the processed sugars in foods like these can cause your blood sugar to repeatedly spike. This strains your body’s metabolism as it seeks to use the glucose in your blood for energy by releasing insulin. Too much processed sugar over time can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and more.
Consider eating less processed sugar and more natural foods (like fruits and veggies) to help your body manage its blood sugar levels. Doing so will not only feel better over time but also contribute to a well-rounded metabolism that’s not constantly attempting to use unnecessary glucose.
Resetting Your Metabolism for a Better You
As we've learned, your metabolism is not a single organ or muscle that's hard at work but a process that provides your body with energy and illustrates your overall health. It's influenced by what foods you eat, when you eat them, how much exercise you perform, the quality of your sleep, and so many other factors. When you manage your diet, incorporate exercise, and adopt healthy lifestyle habits, you reduce the likelihood of disease and set your body up for success.
Sign up today for Vital to begin understanding how your metabolism works and what you can do to establish a healthy, robust metabolism for years to come.