The burning question that everyone wants to know is "What can I do to increase my metabolism?". I'm sorry to break the news but magic pills and super foods won't do the trick. Green tea, caffeine and spicy foods are quick fixes with negligible effects. The long-term approach to increasing your metabolism goes back to the basics: eating well and exercising often.
Blame is often put on a few things when it comes to metabolism and weight loss. They include the following:
- "I have a slow metabolism": It's true that some people have a faster metabolism than others but this doesn't mean that weight loss isn't possible. At a previous job we offered metabolic testing and I rarely saw a metabolism that was considered to be too slow. Some results were slower than others, but often it would be a smaller woman since they may require fewer calories. In general though patients had average metabolisms that allowed for weight loss! Often times we may think we have a slow metabolism even if we really don't.
- "I have bad genes": Genes can play a role in our health, but keep in mind that they are a smaller factor in your weight than your lifestyle. Eating well and exercising can rule out bad genes.
- "I'm getting older so my metabolism is slower": Yes, as we age our metabolism decreases, but the decrease is slight and age is usually not the main reason for weight gain. The bigger factor that correlates with weight gain is a decrease in exercise and activity.
No matter what your genes are, what your past has been or how old or young you are, it is possible to increase your metabolism. Here's how.
- Strength train: Muscle mass increases your metabolism which helps you burn more calories throughout the day. Make sure to incorporate strength training at least 1-2x per week for the best benefit.
- Eat Breakfast: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it jump starts your metabolism to make it work efficiently throughout the day. Eat within an hour of waking up to reduce the risk of slowing your metabolism.
- Eat frequently throughout the day: Eating food actually increases your metabolism, so make sure to eat small meals throughout the day to keep it going strong. Aim for 3 meals and 2 snacks per day for the best balance. Eat healthy foods and proper portion sizes to avoid weight gain. Refer to my post on eating balanced meals for healthy options.
If you begin a healthy weight loss plan, are following these tips and are still not losing weight it may be helpful to check with your physician. Often times if weight gain is occurring while following a healthy lifestyle it could be because of your thyroid. A simple blood test can be done to check for hypothyroidism.
Get your metabolism in gear by eating often and building muscle mass. Weight loss may require changing your habits, but soon enough they will become part of your normal routine.