By Robin De-Ivy Allen
Speeding up your metabolism is essential to the process of weight management. I know the benefits firsthand. For years I struggled with extra pounds until I learned how to boost my metabolism. It really is the best kept weight loss secret. It must be a secret if so many people are spending thousands of dollars on fad diets, pills and other “get slim quick” programs and not getting the results they want.
So what is this metabolism thing anyway? Metabolism is the process responsible for turning the food you eat into the energy needed for the body to function. Your metabolism is at work whether you are eating, drinking, sleeping, cleaning or doing any other activity. Metabolism is affected by the composition of your body—the amount of muscle versus the amount of fat. Muscle uses more calories to maintain itself; therefore the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate.
As we age (especially after 30) the amount of muscle we have gradually tends to decrease. This is why it appears that we gain weight as we age. You may actually eat the same amount and maintain the same amount of physical activity as when you were younger, yet gain weight. This is because metabolism slows down as muscle mass decreases. People who have always maintained a regular weight training and cardio program may not notice any difference.
Some causes of a slower metabolism:
• Low calorie diet
• Snacking throughout the day on high sugar foods (including sugary drinks)
• Lack of physical activity
• Underactive thyroid
Some ways to speed up your metabolism:
• Increase muscle mass through activity
• Eat four to six meals per day
• Do not skip meals
• Eat breakfast
• Avoid alcohol
• Drink eight to ten glasses of water daily
• Eat protein rich foods
Many of the methods for boosting metabolism are centered on eating. Let’s start with breakfast. During the night, when you are asleep, your body and metabolism are at rest. In order to jump start the body, you need to eat breakfast first thing in the morning. If you start your day without breakfast your metabolism is still resting and remains slow. When you continuously give your body food, your metabolism doesn’t have a chance to slow down, which is why I recommend eating four to six times per day.
When the body does not receive enough food it stores fat. I, like most people, thought if I ate less I would lose weight. In the past I would count calories and feast on lots of salad. When I was trying to lose weight, I’d usually eat twice a day and skip breakfast. Now I eat several meals a day; in fact, I eat more food than I would have ever imagined and I am smaller than I have ever been.
Don’t underestimate the power of food. Eating enough of the RIGHT food is critical. However, not all foods are created equal. A healthy diet is a permanent regimen and not something you suffer through for a week or two and then quit. It’s a lifestyle.
Though 90% of this weight management process is about food, don’t undervalue the role of exercise. Strength training helps you build the muscle you need to burn an optimal amount of calories even while sitting around.
The bottom line is this: people with a lower percentage of body fat have a higher metabolism. The slower the metabolism, the greater the weight gain. You can reduce your body fat through diet and exercise, plain and simple, nothing more, nothing less.
Robin De-Ivy Allen is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and the founder of Necessary Nutrition, a company dedicated to helping improve the eating habits of millions of people and their families. She shows her clients how to use food and nutrition to reach their personal and professional goals. Robin can be reached at Robin@NessyNutri.com or visit www.NessyNutri.com.