Boost Your Metabolism for Better Health

Submitted by Debra Dobies, MA, RD, LDN

Couple walks their dog in a neighborhood to boost metabolism.Metabolism is a term used to explain the way the body burns energy or calories. Basal metabolism, or the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), represents all the involuntary activities completed by the human body to sustain life at rest in a fasting state. These activities include respiration, circulation, body temperature regulation, nerve activity, hormone secretions, and new tissue synthesis. Additional calories are expended for physical activity and digestion. BMR utilizes approximately 60 percent to 70 percent of the human body’s energy/calorie expenditure.

There are several factors that affect your metabolic rate. The BMR is determined partly by our genes. Factors that decrease our BMR include: aging, fasting or following very low calorie diets, and increased body fat. Factors that increase our BMR include: having a higher muscle-to-body fat ratio; being male; pregnancy; growing children; stress; and having a fever. Environmental temperatures and thyroid hormones also affect metabolism.
 

Ways to Boost Your Metabolism

1. Get Physical. Do cardiovascular exercise most days of the week and include weight/strength training, which increases your metabolism by building muscle. Cardiovascular exercises such as walking, jogging, dancing, and biking increase your heart rate and help the body burn more calories and fat. Weight training builds muscle mass, which increases your metabolism. Muscle burns more calories than fat tissue. Each day every pound of muscle burns 6 calories and every pound of fat burns 2 calories.

2. Fuel Your Metabolism with Good Nutrition. Low calorie dieting may help you lose a few pounds, but it also results in muscle mass loss which than reduces your metabolic rate. When you eat too few calories and/or skip meals to decrease your caloric intake, your body thinks there is a famine causing your metabolism to slow down to preserve energy stores. Eventually, your body will burn less calories and weight loss is halted. Stoke your metabolism with healthy foods to include whole grains, plant and/or lean animal proteins, fruits, vegetables, nonfat dairy foods, legumes, beans, and healthy fats, nuts, and seeds.

3. Eat Often. To stimulate your metabolism, eat every 3 to 5 waking hours. Include a lean protein and complex carbohydrate/fibrous food to be a smart snacker.  Examples include apple wedges with peanut butter; a cup of salad greens and raw vegetables, ½ cup of black beans with a light salad dressing, or   raw vegetables dipped in nonfat Greek yogurt or hummus. Increasing your fiber intake will burn more calories during digestion.

4. Boosting Beverages.  The body requires water to process fiber and calories. Dehydration slows one’s metabolism. Drink a glass of ice water before every meal and snack. Every 8 ounces of ice water will burn an extra 25 calories while 8 ounces of room temperature water will burn 16 calories. Coffee in moderation results in a short term increase in your metabolic rate and increases your endurance while you exercise. Green tea increases your metabolism for a couple of hours due to the active ingredient catechin and helps the body to burn more calories during moderately intense exercise. Energy drinks increase your metabolism due to their caffeine and, if added taurine, an amino acid. Energy drinks have been noted to cause problems with high blood pressure, sleep issues, and anxiety. The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend them for children and teens.

5. Eat Fatty Fish. The omega-3 fatty acids boost metabolism and increase fat-burning enzymes while decreasing fat-storing enzymes. Wild salmon, tuna, maceral, sardines, herring, trout, canned salmon and albacore tuna are recommended twice a week. 

6. Spice it Up.  Capsaicin, the chemical in hot red and green peppers and curries, will slightly increase your metabolism. If you eat spicy foods and seasonings, often the benefits will add up.

7. Get Your ZZZ’s.  Sleeping less than 7-8 hours a night can alter your metabolism and lower the number of calories your burn at rest. Sleep deprivation is linked to craving sweet or high fat foods and increases the stress hormone cortisol. This causes an enhanced appetite and stress.

8. Control Room Temperatures. High and very cool room temperatures cause us to eat more. Be green and lower the thermostat in the winter and raise it in the summer so you eat less and increase your metabolism to stay warm or cooler.

The benefits of increasing your metabolism will provide you with more energy, aid in weight loss and keep it off, and help you experience quality sleep while burning more calories at bedtime.

Always consult with your physician or healthcare provider before making any nutrition changes or changing your physical activity.
 

Ornish Hummus (serves 12)

3 cups garbanzo beans cooked, canned (rinsed and drained) or bottled
¼ cup roasted garlic (best to make ahead or purchase in jar with water)
1 cup silken tofu
1 teaspoon salt, optional
¼ tsp finely chopped rosemary
¼ cup hot water
Directions: 1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or high powered blender. 2. Blend until well mixed and creamy.  Serve with raw vegetables, or spread on corn tortillas for a healthy snack. Recipe Source: Ornish.com

 

Deb Dobies, Ornish Dietitian
Debra Dobies, MA, RD, LDN, is Beebe Healthcare's Ornish Registered Dietitian and Medical Nutrition Therapist. Beebe is the only provider of the Ornish program in Delaware. For more information, go to www.beebehealthcare.org/ornish

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