They say Summer bodies are made in Winter but with all the comfort eating that happens during the cold season, it’s not always easy to stick to the plan. So how do you boost your metabolism?
The more your metabolism works, the more lean muscle mass you’ll develop. This means that by adopting habits that boost your metabolism, you’ll be beach ready by the time the Summer season comes around. Here, doctor and dietician Kirsten Gerrard who helps design the Tony Ferguson meal plans shares some tips and advice.
The most important way to gain muscle mass and improve metabolism is through exercise – you need to work muscle to gain it! High intensity training and weight training are optimal (where medically safe) for this, but there are also other ways to increase your lean muscle mass without having to hit the gym:
Get up and walk around often throughout the day – even just standing more can increase your basal metabolic rate. Take the stairs and park further from where you want to go, in order to increase your steps. When walking, try to increase the pace – the brisker the better! Play some of your favourite songs and dance while cleaning or cooking to increase your energy expenditure.
Drink more water
Water is essential to all metabolic processes in the body, so increasing your consumption of it can improve your metabolic rate. Start your day off with a glass of water where possible and be sure to keep up your intake throughout the day. Aim for at least 1.5-2L of fluid per day, predominantly from water. Also, there are some key things to know about fluids when it comes to your metabolism:
Caffeinated beverages including coffee and green tea can increase your metabolic rate. But too much caffeine has negative health implications, so try stick to 1-2 cups per day.
Staying away from sugary beverages is essential to achieving health goals and improving metabolism.
While ‘diet’ or ‘zero’ carbonated beverages are popular, they actually lower your metabolism and stop you feeling full, which can lead to overeating.
Eat more protein, including plant protein
Of all the dietary constituents, protein requires the most energy to digest and absorb – so more protein means more energy expended breaking down food. More importantly, protein is essential to build and sustain lean muscle mass, which contributes to an increased metabolic rate overall. So, along with increasing your activity, ensuring an adequate protein intake is essential for upping your metabolism.
Bear in mind that if you have protein without carbohydrates (particularly after exercise), your liver will increase gluconeogenesis, turning protein into sugar to replenish muscle stores and feed your brain. So, it’s important to have enough healthy high fibre carbohydrates to allow for optimal intake of protein to build muscle mass. A meal plan such as those offered by Tony Ferguson can help you get an idea of the right proportion of protein to carbohydrate for your meals.
Consider intermittent fasting
Our body is geared towards eating during the day and fasting at night, so restricting eating only to a limited number of daytime hours can improve your metabolism, while late night snacks can slow it down. A commonly followed method of intermittent fasting is to eat for eight hours during the day e.g. from 8am to 4pm, with no food intake during the remaining 16 hours. This doesn’t suit everyone’s lifestyle, but if it’s something you think you can do, it can improve your metabolic rate and decrease insulin resistance – improving overall health.
Don’t eat less, just eat better
Interestingly, excessively restricting your caloric intake can actually make matters worse when it comes to your metabolism. On a very low calorie diet your body’s metabolism slows right down to conserve energy, so to lose or maintain weight in a healthy way, it’s essential to eat enough – too little can lead to weight gain as soon as you increase your intake again.
Manage your sleep and your stress
Getting adequate sleep makes a massive difference in terms of metabolism. In fact, getting just one hour less of sleep per night can appreciably lower your metabolism, making you prone to putting on weight. Similarly, high stress levels can have a detrimental impact on your metabolic rate due to the action of the hormone cortisol which is produced in higher amounts when stress levels are higher. Try meditation, yoga, or other relaxation exercises to help manage your stress this winter.
The best part about gaining lean muscle mass and boosting metabolism is that a higher metabolism means more fat your body burns, even while you’re at rest. Plus, the more muscle mass you have, the easier it is to lose and keep off excess weight. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to maintaining optimal health – even through these slower winter months.