Written by: Cassie Vanderwall
It’s that time of year when most reflect on the last year and look forward to all that the upcoming year will bring. Many people resolve to quit smoking, exercise more often, eat more vegetables, drink more water, lose weight, and the list goes on and on. The most common of the resolutions is to achieve a healthier weight. Many people look to lose the 10lbs that they gained over the holidays and more. There are a variety of products, pills and approaches to weight loss, but many may be just another fad and provide nothing more than false advertising.
People looking to enhance their weight loss efforts may seek out methods to boost the mysterious “metabolism” with popular pills or even common foods. But, is there truth behind the claims? It’s time to bust the myths and find out how to support a healthy metabolism.
It is important to first explore what the metabolism is and what affects its function, in order to better understand how to support it. Metabolism comes from the Greek word metabolismos, which is basically how the body uses energy it consumes. Metabolism includes two separate processes:
• Anabolism: Building process
• Catabolism: Breakdown process
The metabolic rate, or the rate in which energy is used to build the body or breakdown the body, is affected both positively and negatively by a variety of factors, including:
• Muscle mass
• Meal pattern
• Activity level
• Sleeping pattern
It is evident that a person’s metabolism slows as they age due to losses in water and lean body mass (muscle). Therefore, in order to maintain a healthy weight it is vital to practice simple, sound strategies to support a healthy metabolism.
- Stay Hydrated.
Choose water as your number one beverage and drink up! Practicing good hydration to support your metabolism by replenishing the body, which is 57-75% water, with fresh stores. This cycling process- out with the old and in with the new- will alleviate stress on the kidneys and liver, which help to filter waste from the body and leave the body refreshed and rejuvenated. Strive for the golden rule of eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day. If at the beginning you feel like your new hobby is running to the washroom, no worries your body will adjust over time.
- Eat often, but not too often.
Small, frequent meals and snacks can help to feed the muscle and boost the metabolic rate for a short period of time. By eating every 3-4 hours, you avoid “starvation mode” and remind the body that food is plentiful. Fasting and skipping meals can slow the metabolic rate causing the body to store calories as fat and may also cause many to overeat late
Healthful meals are composed of at least three food groups (lean protein, whole grains, fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy, or healthy fats) and healthful snacks include two foods (fruit, vegetable or grain with a source of protein or fat). This intentional composition can provide stable sources of energy to feed muscles throughout the day and night.r. It is important to not eat too frequently, which can cause the blood sugar (glucose) and insulin levels to remain high throughout the day. By waiting 3-5 hours that body is able to utilize energy consumed and prepare for the next eating episode. A healthful meal or snack can help many to bridge this gap without cravings and swings in mood or energy levels.
- Maintain Muscle.
In general, for every 5-10lbs of muscle, the body will burn an extra 100 Calories per day. Regular exercise and physical activity can help to build and maintain muscle. Muscle mass is the primary engine for the body’s metabolism. Muscle building activities focused on the body’s larger, or major, muscle groups can be an efficient way to support the metabolism and increase strength. Identify safe activities that use the back (latissimus dorsi), chest (pectoralis), core (abdominals), and legs (gluteus, hamstrings, quadriceps, gastrocnemius). An individual can reap the benefits by incorporating anaerobic, resistance exercises at least two days.
Aerobic activities (walking, jogging, biking, swimming, dancing, etc) are also a great way to give a sluggish metabolism a boost. A good initial goal is to achieve 150 minutes of aerobic exercise every week. In addition to consistent exercise, regular physical activity can increase the metabolic rate. A good goal is to try to get up and move at least one time per hour.
• Catch some Zzz’s.
Inadequate sleep can lead to unhealthy changes in the way that the body uses energy. Researchers found that sleep-deprived people had higher levels of blood sugar and insulin and also had difficulties managing their appetite. Adequate sleep allows the body to rest and repair itself from head-to-toe every night. This includes the body’s hormones, which help to regulate how the body uses energy.
Try to forget about the latest fad foods for boosting the metabolism rate. The best practices to achieve and maintain a healthier weight are to choose water, eat well, move more, and to allow yourself time for rest.
Since every body is different, health behavior changes are very individualized. Seek out sound sources for nutrition and exercise advice, including registered dietitians, certified personal trainers, exercise physiologist and your personal physician.