Lifestyle, age, food choices...the list goes on. So many different things can have a negative impact on our metabolism. Here are five tried and true ways to boost your metabolism without having to rely on over-the-counter pills or concoctions that could end up doing more harm than good.
1) Resistance Training
Even a modest amount of resistance or strength training can really give your body the boost it needs. Heavy weights are not necessarily required. Yoga, for example is one way of really getting deep into your muscles without the use one dumbbell. The key is to find a form of resistance training the works for you. Free weights, machines and body weight all provide ways to improve muscle mass, thereby increasing your body's metabolism. If you're looking for a few great workouts that will really get your body toned and tight, check out my book 20 High Energy Workouts to a Great Body. If you're pressed for time, travel often or just looking for something new - this book is the solution. If you're looking for something a little structure with a diet component, check out my 40 Day Shape Up!
You might think you feel fine on five or fewer hours of sleep, but your body disagrees. Much of your body's human growth hormone (HGH) is released hours after you've gone to sleep. Think of HGH as a sponge that absorbs the amino acids from protein that help to repair and develop muscle tissue. The more continuous sleep you get, the more HGH you have and the more amino acids your body can absorb and use. Studies have shown that people who sleep seven or more hours versus people who sleep seven or less hours have significantly more muscle tissue - and less body fat! The key is in getting a good block of uninterrupted sleep.
Think of protein as a building block. Your body needs an adequate amount of protein to repair and develop muscle. We certainly don't need infinite amounts of protein, but we do need to make sure we get an adequate amount of absorbable protein. The more stressed your body is, the more protein you'll need. Your body perceives all kinds of stress - good and bad. Examples of people who are under more stress include those with a hectic work schedule or travel schedule, people who are continuously training or working out, new parents up at all hours with their children, or even people who have a tough time managing the day-to-day events in life. Eat some amount of protein with every meal or snack. If you're stressed, eat a little more.
In addition to helping develop muscle, protein with meals or snacks also helps to level-off blood glucose levels. If you're feeling famished an hour or two after a meal, chances are you ate too much carbohydrate or too little protein. Keep your body on an even keel by eating good sources of protein, such as raw nuts, lean meats, cheese, yogurt, etc.
Slow and steady work is fine for a warm up, or even a recovery/easy workout, but beyond that most of the cardiovascular exercise you do should consist of intervals. Intervals can vary from 30 seconds to 20 + minutes. The big thing that distinguishes an interval from garden-variety cardio is intensity. Adding several intervals into your workout that are high intensity, followed by easy rest periods, will turn your body into a fat-burning machine. You'll know you're working intensely when you're outside of your comfort zone. My definition of "intense" is different that your definition. Push yourself outside of your perceived limits a few times a week and you'll start seeing and feeling a difference. You might feel a little fatigued after your first few workouts. That's fairly common. Eat a little extra protein and make sure you're getting some good, quality sleep. You'll feel like an ace in no time.
Again, getting in two or three workouts a week is enough to notice a big difference. For a few examples of high intensity interval workouts that you can do from home, check out my book, or take a look at one of these workouts from my blog:
- No Excuses (Spinning) Workout #13
- No Excuses (Fast Legs) Workout #17
- No Excuses (Tag Team) Workout #25
Skipping breakfast or not eating between breakfast and dinner is usually a recipe for disaster. Eat consistently throughout the day - typically between three and five hours - to keep the metabolic fire stoked in your body. When you eat is also as important as what you eat. Don't fall into the low fat/no fat trap of eating. Many foods that are low or no fat are high in refined carbohydrates. A high carbohydrate diet, aside from a piece of fruit or healthy snack of vegetables, will send your body on a blood sugar roller coaster.
Common low fat/no fat offenders include:
- Fat free cereal + fat free milk (think Special K)
- Fat free or low fat snack packs (a horrible way to eat 100 calories)
- Pretzels (nearly 100% refined carbs)
- Low fat/fat free pudding snacks (many still contain trans fats...you'll hurt your heart, too!)
- Homemade Trail Mix (easy and portable)
- Veggies + Hummus (go crazy with this - just about any veggie goes)
- Sprouted Toast + Nut Butter (a little goes a long way)
- Plain Yogurt + Cinnamon + a Touch of Honey (cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar levels)
Want more tips like this? Traci D Mitchell is a healthy living and fitness expert. Follow Traci on Facebook. She’d love to see you there! Interested in working with Traci? She works privately with clients specializes in nutrition coaching and weight loss as well as functional fitness and personal training. All sessions are done via Skype or telephone if outside of Chicago. For more information, contact Traci here.
Looking for a simple way to get into great shape and eat right? Try Traci’s 40-Day Shape Up!