The word metabolism simply refers to all chemical processes in the body that changes food to energy in order to maintain life. These reactions your body goes through are responsible for the proper functioning of your body and they require energy.
Metabolism is also described as the rate at which your body burns calories. Those with high metabolic rate are able to easily lose weight and keep it off while people with slow metabolism may have difficulties in losing weight.
Metabolism could also reduce with age and sex either due to an age-related fat-free mass or, because of heavier bones and more muscle mass in men.
Muscle cells require more energy to maintain than fat cells, so people with more muscle than fat tend to have a faster metabolism.
Am I fat because of slow metabolism?
While slow metabolism may result in weight gain, being fat does not equal having a slow metabolism. Research studies show that fat people have a faster metabolism than thinner people due to heavier muscle and bone mass. On the contrary, people on a crash diet, which leads to weight-loss within a very short period of time, usually lose their muscle and bone mass alongside fat mass resulting in slow metabolism. This may cause them to gain back lost weight and the cycle continues.
So, How do I increase my metabolism?
It has been purported that some foods like coffee, green tea, energy drinks, and spices help rev up metabolism. While some shreds of evidence support this, the effect on metabolism is usually minimal. Here are 5 ways you can improve your metabolism significantly!
1. Get enough protein at every meal
Eating protein helps reduce muscle mass which is very common with dieting. Proteins especially, help the body increase its metabolism for few hours. This phenomenon is termed the thermic effect of food (TEF). It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal. Proteins contribute to the largest rise in the thermic effect of foods and can increases your metabolic rate by up to 15–30%.
2. Fuel up with water
You might be wondering why not energy drinks? Water helps the body process calories and can help to increase your metabolic rate by 10-30%. Some studies also show that cold water instead of sugary drinks helps to lose weight and keep it off .
3. Replace sugary and fatty foods with whole grains
A recent study noticed that alternating whole grains for refined grains in the diet increase calorie loss by reducing calories retained during digestion and speeding up metabolism. The amount of fiber present in whole grains makes it easier for other food to be digested, thereby increasing metabolism rates. Furthermore, these whole-grain foods were noticed to improve glycemic control and insulin sensitivity. Sources of whole grains include oatmeal, sorghum, rye, millet, quinoa, etc.
4. Get enough sleep
Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation alters metabolism negatively, causes inflammation, and may result in hormonal imbalance. People who sleep less have increased hunger hormones (ghrelin) which may cause them to overeat and accumulate weight.
5. Engage in high-intensity exercise
Focusing on fat might not be as effective in burning calories as increasing muscle mass would. So, focus on building muscle mass. Muscle-strengthening exercises focused on thighs, legs, arms, abdomen would help increase muscle mass and thereby a reduction in calories. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include lifting weights and high-intensity stretches of exercise. It is also important you stay active. Try making a particular activity or set of activities as part of your daily routine. Activities like cycling or walking could help in increasing your metabolic rate.
Can some medical conditions cause slow metabolism?
There are some medical conditions that can slow down metabolic rate and they include Cushing’s syndrome and hypothyroidism. Sometimes, stubborn weights might be due to these conditions and might not respond to a change of lifestyle only. Speak to a doctor and dietitian when it happens thus.
Your metabolic rate is determined by how much muscle mass you have. Eat healthy, stay active, and get enough sleep and you will be on your way to stepping up your metabolic rate.