Top 5 Ways To Increase Your Metabolism
Your metabolism is the balance of all the cellular building up and breaking down that takes place inside your body each and every second.
The building up portion of your metabolism is anabolism, while the breaking down is catabolism.
The balance of anabolism and catabolism in the body needs to be maintained to prevent dysfunction, and keep you healthy.
People run into problems when the amount of stress that occurs in their life causes too much catabolism (breaking down) without enough anabolism (building up) to balance the equation.
Your metabolic rate is the amount of energy that your body expends on day to day basis for physiological functions
However your metabolic rate is not fixed and can be changed with exercise, lifestyle and nutrition.
Someone’s metabolic rate may sound like something that only fitness folks would be interested in, but you metabolic rate has an impact on many different facets of your health and well being.
Your metabolism regulates how many calories you burn on a daily basis, and also determines the amount of food you can consume without gaining body fat.
A lower metabolic rate has negative impacts on your hormones, libido, pulse, body temperature, energy levels, and your ability to build muscle or burn body fat.
Generally speaking a higher metabolic rate is an advantage when it comes to your health, fitness, looking and feeling better.
Let’s take a look at the top 5 ways you can increase your metabolism.
1.) Reduce Stress:
When it comes to the stress department no one gets out untouched, and it is a part life that we must all deal with. There is a point where stress exceeds the body’s capacity to adapt to it in a healthy way, and that is where trouble lies.
Stress and your metabolism are a balancing act, just enough stress and it won’t negatively impact the metabolism but too much and your metabolic rate slows.
Chronic stress causes the catabolic hormones cortisol to break down muscle mass into amino acids in order to fuel the stress response.
Muscle mass increases your metabolic rate, and when it is broken down and used for stress the metabolic rate will decrease.
Chronic stress steals the precursors to many of the hormones that we need for energy, libido, build muscle burn fat and makes increases insulin resistance, a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Keep in mind many of these hormonal precursors that are stolen would otherwise become anabolic hormones that help to rebuild the body after being broken down.
2.) Make Sure You Are Eating Enough
We have developed evolutionary mechanisms that are designed to keep us alive when food is scarce.
Many people assume they can outsmart their body by just continuing to eat less, but eventually this approach will lead to slowed down metabolic rate.
Any caloric deficit registers to your body as a stressor, even if the caloric deficit is relatively small. Short term caloric deficits cause your body to respond by mobilizing body fat.
In longer periods of inadequate calorie intake the body responds by simply burning less energy to match the amount of calories coming in.
This translates into fewer calories burned all throughout the day, but also lower body temperature, lack of libido and energy and sleep problems.
I always recommend that women eat a minimum of 1,800 calories as a baseline, and men consume a minimum of 2,300 calories.
Eat enough for a good amount of time before trying to get really lean, and remember the goal is to lose fat eating as much as you can, not as little as possible that will eventually hurt your health.
3.) The Thyroid Adrenal Gland connection
The thyroid is one of the main governors of your metabolism, but thyroid function relies heavily on healthy adrenal function. When adrenal health goes south, the downstream effects lower thyroid function and the metabolism as a byproduct.
Make sure first and foremost you are eating enough calories, people assume going lower is better and usually drop calories too low for too long a period of time.
Eating too little is a stress to the body and causes the adrenal glands to work overtime to create glucose for the body. When this happens too frequently the adrenal hormones interfere with the the production and conversion of vital thyroid hormones which results in a slowing of the metabolism.
Eating enough calories is especially important for people following a low carb high fat diet. Because of the satiating effect of protein, fat and vegetables it is very easy to undereat for an extended period of time.
If you have noticed you feel cold, lack energy and and your libido or sleep has been disrupted make sure you are eating enough carbohydrates to to lower stress and have glucose to convert thyroid hormones.
Extended low carb/ketogenic diets can depress thyroid function in some people. A carb cycling approach will be helpful to make sure you get enough calories, carbohydrates and fats to be healthy and have a higher metabolic rate.
For adrenal health engage in stress management activities, laugh more, read, listen to music you enjoy, make sure to eat enough calories daily, get 7-9 hours of sleep, and don't over use stimulants to boost energy, and use some carb cycling to get the best of both of both worlds. To learn more about carb cycling look HERE
For your thyroid health the nutrients selenium and iodine both play significant roles in the function of your thyroid, and are easy to become deficient in.
Selenium supports the conversion of inactive (T4) thyroid hormone to the active (T3) and iodine helps to create the thyroid hormones.
Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium and seaweed and other sea vegetables are a rich source of iodine.
4. Lift Heavy and Sprint
Mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells where energy is produced. Muscle mass has a far greater concentration of mitochondria than many other tissues in the body.
Because muscle mass burns up more energy to maintain it increases the basal metabolic rate and overall caloric needs of the body.
A great way to build muscle mass is to lift heavy weights on a consistent basis and make sure that you are sleeping and eating in accordance with that goal.
The interesting aspect about lifting is that while it burns fewer calories than running while doing it, the beauty of heavy lifting actually happens after the exercising has stopped.
The increased need for energy after a heavy lifting session to repair the muscles, replenish what was burned up and bring the body back to homeostasis is known as the EPOC effect. (excessive post oxygen consumption)
Sprinting is another top notch exercise especially for those who are looking to lean out and increase their metabolic rate.
Because of the intense short duration of sprinting it encourages greater fat oxidation, and is also capitalizes on the EPOC effect we discussed above.
Sprinting and lifting heavy also make you more insulin sensitive. With increased insulin sensitivity the carbohydrates you consume post workout will be used more efficiently to replenish muscle glycogen and boost leptin and the metabolism.
5. Keep Leptin High
Leptin is a hormone that works in close association with the thyroid to regulate your metabolic rate.
Leptin is secreted by your fat cells to communicate how much stored energy you have available. Based on the amount of energy available leptin adjusts appetite and communicates with the brain and thyroid to change the metabolic rate.
When the levels of leptin get too low the metabolic rate will begin to slow because the body recognizes there is far less energy available. As a result of the lower leptin levels the thyroid slows down the metabolic rate for survival.
Leptin is responsive to carbohydrates and a short period of carbohydrate dense meals with lower fat boosts leptin levels and tells the thyroid to keep the metabolic rate high, and signals the release of fat cells for energy.
If you have been following a low carbohydrate diet and have lost significant weight but have plateaued, it may be time to start incorporating some higher carbohydrate lower fat meals to keep leptin and your metabolism boosted.
6. Drink Your Morning Coffee!
It’s not like you need someone writing a blog to encourage you to drink coffee let’s be honest you would do it anyway. It’s most people’s drug of choice!
Put plainly coffee raises your metabolic rate for a for upwards of three hours causing you to burn up more calories during this time.
An interesting fact is that while there is a short term metabolic boost from coffee, it preferentially metabolizes fats during this time.
While caffeine does provide a metabolic boost make sure not to use it as a crutch for energy late into the day. It can cause cortisol the stress hormone to raise and disrupt sleep.
Try to cut caffeine at 11am-12pm to make sure your body has enough time to metabolize the caffeine so sleep quality doesn't suffer.
Increased Metabolism Cheat Sheet :
Reduce Stress: go for a walk, meditate, read book, practice 15-20 deep breaths during your lunch break, listen to music you enjoy and try to get outside as much as you can, write down three things you are grateful for each morning.
Make Sure You Are Eating Enough: If you start to feel extreme, energy dips, are cold more frequently, digestion slows, your libido has dropped or sleep is disrupted you are very likely not eating enough. Women should start at 1,800 calories and men at 2,300 calories.
Thyroid Health: If you have gone very low carb and started to feel the effects listed above you will need to start including more starches. Eat brazil nuts and sea vegetables for selenium and iodine to support thyroid function.
Lift Heavy (3-4 times) and Sprint (2-3 times): You will utilize the EPOC and insulin sensitizing effects of these forms of exercise causing a boost in metabolic rate.
Keep Leptin High: Leptin is responsive to carbohydrates so make sure to have some higher carb lower fat meals during the week to keep leptin levels elevated and metabolic rate higher.
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These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained, while keeping you accountable along the way.