Improving your metabolism
Having a poor metabolism is definitely something you can improve. We all know people who can scoff down whatever they want and not gain a kilo. These people are genetically gifted (although the junk will still catch up with their bodies later). However, you should not have to settle for nibbling on a few vegetables because you gain weight so easily. The first step, if you honestly think your metabolism is much slower than it should be, check in with your doctor or naturopath and make sure you do not have an under active thyroid. If you do, this can be corrected by medication prescribed by your doctor, or herbal mixes from your naturopath. If that is all okay (and even if you are on medication this will help), you will need to start firing up your metabolism.
Weight training is vital! The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you will burn, even while sleeping! Fatty tissue is only being dragged along for the ride. As I have said before, you do not need to worry about accidentally getting ‘big’. Females simply don’t produce enough testosterone to become overly muscular. Even most males have to work extremely hard and eat very, very well to make significant gains.
You will need to start teaching your body to eat again. If you drop your calories too low for an extended period of time, your metabolism will slow down as well to compensate. This is a survival mechanism. You never want to drop calories to below your Basal Metabolic Rate (www.bmi-calculator.net), or basically, the bare minimum your body burns each day just being you. You can use your BMR and activity level, to work out a rough guide to the maintenance levels of calories you require.
This is just a guide and individuals will need to find their own maintenance level (the amount of lean muscle they carry will have a big effect on this). If you want to lose weight, you could start by reducing your maintenance calories by 15-20% and see how you go. If you are sitting well under you BMR, you are very likely to hit a point where you cannot lose any more weight because your calories are too low (I have actually tested this out myself and it really does happen!). So if this is you, start increasing your intake by around 50 to 100 calories at a time until you are at an acceptable daily calorie intake. Your weight may come up a tiny bit as your body re-adjusts, but you should then start seeing weight loss again (for more information about this, talk to us). Note: If you feel that your metabolism is too fast for you to ever gain any weight, you can also address this issue. Start by increasing your maintenance calories by 300 or so per day, and start a challenging weight training program with lots of compound movements and good technique.
The types of foods you are eating will also make a huge difference. All calories are not created equal. Aside from the difference in nutrients, 50 calories of donut, will give you that much energy. However 50 cal worth of broccoli comes with a lot of fiber. Fiber causes the body to have to do a lot of work to digest the food. In the case of broccoli and a lot of other vegetables, it is believed that the hard work the body puts in burns through all the energy the broccoli provides, and then some extra!
So the inclusion of lots of fibrous fruits and vegetable in your diet will help to fuel your metabolism. Some foods are much more thermogenic than others (use more of the body’s energy to be digested). These foods include lean meats, fish, eggs and whey protein. Including a sufficient amount of lean protein will also stimulate the metabolism. This is also the method by which it is thought that chili and green tea can assist the metabolism.
Eating small meals every 3-4 hours will also help with you metabolism and hunger regulation. Eating all of your food at the end of the day places a huge strain on the metabolism. When you eat a large meal full of carbohydrates, all of the blood rushes to the region to aid in digestion. This is why a big lunch can make you sleepy. At first eating 5 to 6 small meals a day can seem strange, but after a week or so, you will start to feel more regulated hunger and satiety signals.