What does ‘metabolism’ even mean? It is the chemical reaction by which the food we eat is blended with oxygen to create energy. So, in a way, it creates a balance between our ‘calories’ and our hormones that determine our mood, hunger, energy, cravings and sleep.
Most people believe that their metabolism needs a boost when their weight goals are stagnant. Yes, non-fluctuating weight can be because of slow metabolism but weight gain is more complicated than that.
There are many signs that can show metabolism improvement is required. Some key ones are the following:
- low energy
- excess cravings
- poor sleep
- mood fluctuations
- hunger pangs
- low libido
- gut health
- irregular periods
- high blood sugar
- hormonal imbalance
While our metabolism is a factor of age, body composition, sex and size, there are ways to improve the metabolism and it is important to notice the signs are work on it as soon as possible.
- Constant diet mode: You might not realize but most of us believe that the way to weight loss is eating less and exercising more and then we go to such extremes with this, that our metabolism becomes sluggish. Body starts to get a message that it needs to slow down to conserve energy because it is worried when will it get next food supply! At this point, we actually need to increase our calorie intake from whole foods and give our metabolism a boost!
- Getting adequate rest and sleep: There’s a proven link between a properly functioning metabolism and getting adequate sleep and rest — lack of sleep can mean lack of weight loss. “Running on fumes” can seriously slow down your metabolism since the body works to conserve energy when it’s fatigued. Make it a priority to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night in order to keep hormone levels in check, including cortisol, which leads the body to store more fat. Another way to maintain hormonal balance is to rest enough between exercise days. Overtraining repeatedly causes fatigue, muscle loss and a lower metabolic rate, not the opposite as you might think.
- Insulin resistance: We can diet our way to conditioning our body to being resistant to insulin or eat our way to it. Insulin is like a mailman, who sends a message to our fat cells or muscle to take in fuel and use it as energy. When the body is insulin-resistant, the message is not accepted, which in turn affects our metabolism. It also sends our hunger hormones, leptin and grehlin out of whack! So now how do we know when we should stop eating right? So working on the right ways for the body to become insulin sensitive is key to improving metabolism.
- Metabolism-boosting foods: Eating enough protein, for example, is tied to a strong metabolism, Packing in healthy high-protein snacks and sources is directly associated with boosting metabolism. One of my recommended sources other than eggs is pulses (its clean, vegetarian source). Pulses include beans, lentils and peas. Either it is homemade dal, hummus or curries, it is going back to what we grew up with. My favourite is moong dal, which is approximately 16 gms of protein per serving (1 cup), which I can eat making different kind if dishes! It can be chilla, khichdi or dosa that is flavoured with herbs and made high on fibre by adding veggies. My second on the list is masoor dal that is 22 gms of protein per serving (1 cup). Protein is beneficial for keeping energy and blood sugar stable while also helping build calorie-burning lean muscle mass. Eating foods with protein naturally forces your body to use up more calories during the digestion process than when you eat carbs.
- Mobility: NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis) which is the movement we have on a day to day basis makes up for about 15% of our metabolism. My clients will give me their hardcore workout schedule but otherwise lead a sedentary lifestyle. Our workout is just 5% metabolism. So, start doing steps, have a standing desk or just find different ways to move your body more!
- Eliminate processed food and junk: This goes without saying that low calorie, but processed, snacks can be packed with preservatives, refined flour and sugar that clog our system. It impacts our gut and our gut health plays a big role in our metabolism.
Favourable metabolism is more than just losing weight. It is a seesaw that balances various chemical reactions in our system and therefore cannot be ignored. Just by doing the above steps, we can get the metabolism to improve so use this as a guideline to boost it!
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