We all know at least one person in our life who seems to be able to eat whatever they please and maintain a slim body. We typically credit this to their genetics or high metabolism but, why do people’s metabolic rates differ so highly? And how do you raise your own metabolism if you aren’t as lucky as these people whose bodies seem to go through calories at 100 mph?
Although most people think of metabolism in terms of weight management, it is so much more complex than that. Our metabolism is a sum of the chemical processes within our bodies that provide us with energy and keep us alive. It converts the calories and nutrients we consume into energy for blood circulation, breathing, growing/repairing cells, and so much more!
The speed of a person’s metabolism is dependent on multiple factors from genes to lean body mass (muscle) or gender. Although we have no control over the genetic aspect of our metabolism, there are ways we can increase the amount of calories our bodies process throughout the day to promote fat loss… spoiler alert: skinny coffee, detox teas, apple cider vinegar shots, or “fat burner” supplements are nowhere to be found on this list. Why? Because they do not work.
1. Eat More Protein
As explained by a process called the Thermic Effect of Food, our metabolism speeds up when we eat due to the energy required for the digestion, absorption, and utilization of food. It takes our bodies longer to burn and absorb the macronutrient protein meaning that it has a higher Thermic Effect than carbohydrates or fats. Eating more protein means your body will be burning more calories, however, no studies have been able to prove exactly how many extra calories are burnt per gram of protein as compared to other macros.
The Thermic Effect of Food is another reason why Whole Foods are so amazing for the body! Digesting and absorbing fiber and micronutrients also takes more effort and energy as compared to the nearly instantaneous digestion and storage of the sugar and refined carbohydrates found in processed products... shout out to Nestle Candy and Bisquick. Pomona College researchers actually concluded that consuming whole foods increases your post-meal energy expenditure by 50 percent as compared to eating processed foods.
2. Strength Training
Adequate protein intake also promotes the repair and consequent growth of muscle fibers which can raise our overall lean body mass and resting metabolic rate. Muscle takes much more energy to maintain as compared to body fat so, the more lean body mass you have, the more calories you will be burning at rest. Contrastingly, the higher percentage of body fat you have, the lower your metabolism will be. In fact, for every 1% increase in body fat, your resting metabolic rate decreases by 1/10 calorie per minute.
3. Increase NEAT
Although the thermic effect of activity accounts for anywhere from 15-30% of our daily energy expenditure (burned calories), non-exercise activity thermogenesis, shortened to NEAT, is the easiest and most effective way to increase daily burned calories for weight loss! NEAT accounts for the calories you burn every day outside of eating, sleeping, and structured exercise; think taking the stairs, cleaning the house, walking around the grocery store, etc.
Some people’s jobs have a high demand for movement throughout the day but, even if you work a sedentary job, there are some easy ways you can still improve your NEAT. Standing at your workspace instead of sitting will burn more calories as your resting heart rate is higher while standing. Exercise balls are another option for increasing your NEAT at sitting jobs plus, they’re much more fun than a regular chair. For goal-oriented people, pedometers or smart watches are a great way to track your daily steps and consequently increase your NEAT. You can even share activity with friends on some watches for some healthy competition each day!
In my own personal opinion, I think the American population’s resistance towards increasing daily NEAT plays a large role in our obesity epidemic. Think about it: we literally oppose activities that could burn more calories with everything in us! We circle parking lots to find the closest spot possible in avoidance of walking, always choose the elevator, and majority of our country’s “greatest” inventions were created to fuel our laziness. I mean, seriously! This ingrained laziness is a hard mindset to break but, switching gears and looking for ways to use more energy throughout the day can make ALL the difference in your weight loss and health goals!
Some Other Ways To Improve Your Metabolism Are:
Getting Enough Sleep Each Night (And Not Napping During the Day)
Drinking Enough Water
Reducing Sources of Stress
Consuming Enough Vitamin D
Drinking Caffeinated Coffee and Green Tea
It’s important to remember that certain medical conditions can play a factor in slowing your body’s metabolism, however, more often than not, weight gain is simply a matter of overconsumption of calories and inadequate activity.