1. Sleep more. When our bodies are rested they work better, pure and simple. According to EHow Health, during sleep, the body releases hormones. Growth hormone and melatonin are hormones that regulate our biological clock, benefit our body tissues, and work as antioxidants to help us fight off illness. Deep sleep also allows the body’s cells to increase and reduce the breakdown of proteins needed for the body to function properly. When there is a lack of sleep, there is not enough growth hormone and melatonin released to rejuvenate the body and maintain normal functioning. We have difficulty thinking and are ineffective doing tasks. Our body also has less ability to perform basic metabolic functions such as processing and regulating carbohydrates. Most of us know about how much sleep we need to function well. When we consistently compromise this number, our metabolism can be negatively affected.
2. Eat more often. When we eat, our metabolism increases to use that food. We don’t need to eat more, just more often. We should try to make every meal (or snack) count. In other words, make the calories we eat work for us. Eating a balance of high fiber and fresh, whole foods; and eating every few hours can help our bodies keep up their “metabolism skills”!
3. Drink more water. Many of you know this is a difficult one for me…but I am working on this. One hint from nutritionist Alicia Shay is to drink one to two glasses upon waking (within 30 minutes) and a glass BEFORE each meal. I try to finish the day with a glass of water, too. Water hydrates our cells, allowing us to workout at our best. It also cleanses the liver so that our metabolism can run at full force.
4. Maximize movement during the day. We don’t have to exercise like crazy to get our metabolism working. If we can simply think about moving as much as we can during the day, we can add a few extra calorie burning activities without much effort. Park farther away from stores, take a quick walk with the kids or on a lunch break, run up and down some stairs once a day (or better yet, find some stadium stairs and add them at the end of a running or walking workout – like in the picture above). Even changing the time we regularly exercise can be enough to “trick” our bodies and make them efficiently burn calories.
5. Do a high-intensity interval type workout a couple of days a week. This can be done as a cardio workout (running repeat distances at a quicker pace with a set rest time in between) or a circuit type workout (moving from exercise to exercise quickly – using weight machines). The point is to spike up our heart rate (think heavy breathing, and difficulty carrying on a conversation).
6. Strength train. Muscle has a higher energy requirement than fat, so the more muscle and less fat our bodies are composed of, the higher our metabolism will be. Including a weight workout in our fitness routine is important for the weight management process.
7. Eat lots of protein. Our bodies need protein to maintain lean muscle. Many researchers now recommend a daily amount between .8 and 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight ((Check out this bodybuilding.com article to see how they break it down according to lifestyle). Boil some eggs at the beginning of the week to eat as snacks or add to salads, grab a handful of nuts to snack on instead of chips, or make protein shakes using whey or caseine protein and skim milk.
8. Adjust our lifestyle to our age. We don’t need science or data or studies to prove to us that metabolism changes as we age. We know this because we see it happening in our own lives. At I least do. There is no denying that I have to do more now than I used to do in order to maintain my appropriate weight. As mentioned above this can be related to more than just exercise, and so my whole lifestyle needs to follow my age in this (which brings me to number nine…).
9. Understand what metabolism is. In the simplest terms, metabolic rate is the rate at which our body burns calories. Very few people have a fast metabolism. Surprisingly, overweight individuals have relatively fast metabolisms because they weigh more, but if their weight is staying constant, then their metabolism is not fast enough to offset their caloric intake. The bottom line is that increasing our metabolism will enable us to level our diet and weight. We need to be educated about how the process works so we can know how to keep it working efficiently throughout our entire life.