“Does grapefruit increase your metabolism?” and “I just can’t lose weight like I used to when I was younger”. These are just some of the comments I hear from clients wanting to lose weight and increase their metabolism.
So, what is this buzz word “metabolism” and what does it mean? Well, in the simplest term metabolism is how efficient your body can convert the things you eat and drink into energy. The body requires energy to do many functions, and the body’s ability to store and burn fat is one of those functions. When you eat the best sources of calories (food energy), your metabolism will be revved up and body fat will be burned…just by eating the right foods! Once your metabolism is revved up you will feel energized, vibrant and be fueling your body in way to support weight loss.
Consequently, there are foods and lifestyle factors that can negatively impact your metabolism encouraging your body to store fat.
Metabolism Wrecking Ball #1 Sugar and refined carbohydrates: Not just ice cream and cookies, but crackers, breads, chips and all products made from white flour and sugar are sources of refined carbohydrates. Whether you have a “sweet” or “salty” tooth, ALL carbohydrates get converted into sugar in your body. The spikes in blood sugar caused by these foods promote a surge in insulin which through metabolism encourages your body to store fat.
Stay tuned for a very common ingredient that may be slowing down your metabolism! We will also be looking at my remaining metabolism boosting tips: #2 Snacking the Smart Way, #3 Balancing Meals the Right Way and #4 Dis-count Calories.
Now that you have hopefully reduced the amount of sugar and refined carbohydrates in your diet and are noticing an improvement in your metabolism, another metabolism killer that you want to reduce is none other than Metabolism Wrecking Ball #2 Artificial sweeteners:
They are found in diet sodas, lite yogurts, protein powders and many “low calorie” items on the shelf. Research published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, show that artificially sweetened beverages can mess with the body’s normal metabolic response to sugar leading to increased appetite and sugar cravings! Diet drinks are also being correlated with weight gain and metabolic syndrome.
#2 Snacking the Smart Way
So, what can you do to speed up your metabolism and encourage your body to burn fat? Eating within the first hour of waking and eating every 3-4 hours until your head hits the pillow is essential to keeping your hormones happy. Since you will be eating every 3-4 hours, snacks are essential! Snacking during the day boosts metabolism by keeping blood sugars stable. When blood sugars are stable, the fat-burning hormone glucagon is released allowing your body to burn fat. Skipping meals only encourages a roller-coaster in your blood sugar levels, leading to fatigue, cravings and encourages the body to store fat.
What does a balanced snack look like? Stay tuned for my remaining metabolism boosting tips: #3 Balancing Meals the Right Way and #4 Dis-count Calories.
#3 Balancing Meals the Right Way
Remember, eating every 3-4 hours is essential to stimulating your metabolism and keeping your body in a “fat burn” state. The next question is what should a meal or snack look like to ensure it is a metabolism booster? It does not have to be the proverbial “chicken and broccoli” to be balanced. In fact, a meal of chicken and broccoli is NOT considered a balanced metabolism booster. A balanced metabolism booster meal or snack must contain: protein, fat and colorful carbohydrates. These three macronutrients, when eaten together, provide the body with sustained energy, stable blood sugars which lead to the release of glucagon, the fat-burning hormone. When a carbohydrate is consumed without the presence of protein and fat it causes a spike in blood sugar leading to the release of the fat-storing hormone insulin. So, as a rule of thumb, always consume a carbohydrate in the presence of protein and fat to make it a metabolism booster.
The best sources of protein include: whole eggs, wild-caught fish, free-range chicken, grass-fed beef. The best sources of fat include: avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, butter, nuts, seeds, tahini, canned coconut milk. The best sources of colorful carbohydrates are: vegetables and fruits.
A metabolism booster snack includes: 1 boiled egg (protein), 2 Tbsp guacamole (fat) and cucumber slices (colorful carbohydrate)
A metabolism booster meal is: 4oz baked salmon (protein), 2 Tbsp olive oil (fat) to sauté green beans and mushrooms (colorful carbohydrate).
Stay tuned for my remaining metabolism boosting tip: #4 Dis-count Calories.
#4 Dis-count Calories
At this point, I hope you are rethinking your sugar/sweetener intake, timing your meals and snacks and focusing on balanced whole food meals. Well now it is time to throw away the concept of calorie counting.
Calorie counting can often lead to feelings of deprivation which over-time can negatively impact your metabolism. A calorie, by definition, is the energy it takes to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. More importantly, a calorie represents energy. Just like the gasoline that fuels your car, calories are the energy that fuels our bodies. Just like your car will not run better if you remove the gas, your body does work efficiently when you deprive it of calories (energy). Restricting calories leads to weight loss in the short term, but over the long term your body fights back by conserving energy (read: storing fat) and consequently slows down your metabolism.
If you have ever been on a “diet” where you were counting calories, you will find you become tired, hungry, have low energy, headaches and uncontrollable cravings. It is quite the opposite when you fuel yourself in a timely fashion and with the right balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates. You will be in a “fat burn” state, lose weight, with an increase in energy, vitality and no cravings!
For more information on boosting metabolism and healthy coaching or to set up an appointment with Courtney Minors, MS, RDN, LD/N, contact Ultima Fitness.