If you're feeling sluggish, lacking energy and finding it difficult to lose weight, your metabolism might need a boost. Metabolism is the process of turning calories from the foods we eat into useable energy for all the chemical reactions that take place in our body. We need a strong metabolism to maintain a healthy weight but also for a strong functioning immune system, to support brain function and mood, and for optimal energy levels. Improving your metabolism will also help prevent premature ageing and promote longevity and protect your body from chronic disease.
Your metabolism is affected by a number of different factors. Genetics plays a big role in metabolism, along with body composition, age, gender (men usually have faster metabolisms than women), and how active you are. Our metabolism naturally starts slowing down around the age of 40 so it is recommended to start incorporating certain metabolism-boosting foods and lifestyle habits into your daily life for optimal health and longevity.
Here are 9 top ways to give your metabolism a boost.
Drinking green tea has also been shown to increase metabolism and fat burning, and can help encourage weight loss. Green tea’s positive effect on metabolism and weight loss is due to its combination of a powerful antioxidant unique to green tea called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), and its moderate caffeine content.
Green tea has been found to have an anti-diabetic and anti-obesity effect. One study found that drinking four cups of green tea daily can lead to significant weight reduction in people with type-2 diabetes.
Exercising daily is one of the best ways to speed up your metabolism. Aerobic exercise such as running, swimming, dancing and walking and high intensity interval training will stimulate your metabolism and help burn more calories. Resistance exercise is also important to help build muscle. Muscle cells need a lot of energy so they burn a lot of calories. Muscle burns more calories than fat so if you increase your muscle mass through exercise and weight training you will help increase your metabolism. The more muscle you have the higher your metabolic rate will be. We naturally lose muscle mass as we age, which slows down metabolism.
Drinking water throughout the day can actually help you maintain a healthy metabolism too. According to a study drinking water can increase your metabolism by 30% for up to an hour. You should be aiming to drink at least 2 ½ Litres of water daily for optimal health.
Not getting enough sleep can have a big impact on your metabolism. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can affect glucose metabolism and affects leptin and ghrelin levels, which are hormones involved in regulating appetite and metabolism.
If you have trouble sleeping here are some useful tips for getting a great night’s sleep.
Adding chilli to meals can help you burn more calories. The hotter the chili the better. Chili is considered a thermogenic spice that will give your metabolism a boost. This warming spice can raise your internal body temperature and increase fat burning for energy, which is desirable for weight loss. A study found that participants who consumed capsaicin in chilli, their metabolic rates immediately increased by 20% and were sustained for 30 minutes.
Try making a delicious cleansing chili tonic to give your metabolism and digestion a boost. In a teapot add hot water, 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, the juice of ½ lemon, a slice fresh ginger (or 1 heap tsp ZesTEA), 1 tsp raw honey and a pinch of cayenne powder. Let your tonic brew for 5 minutes then enjoy! Apple cider vinegar is also considered a metabolism-booster. Add some spice and flavour to pasta dishes, nachos, Thai and Indian curries, lentil dahls, dips, salad dressings, soups, and fish, meat and chicken dishes. Chili also pairs well with dark chocolate, so try adding a pinch to your next hot cocoa.
Including ginger in the diet can help rev up your metabolism. Studies have shown that ginger has a thermogenic effect, which means that the body has to burn calories to digest and absorb this spice. Ginger is a warming spice that has a characteristic burning sensation when its consumed, similar to other pungent spices. These pungent compounds are what give ginger its thermogenic effect. Consuming ginger can help control appetite, improve blood sugar levels, and assist with weight loss in overweight people.
Some of the best ways to enjoy ginger is as a herbal tea, hot or iced with some fresh lemon. You will find ginger in our Bodhi Organic ZesTEA (ginger and lemongrass tea) and LuminosiTEA (turmeric and ginger latte powder with collagen).
Ginger is a staple used in Indian and Thai dishes such as curries, soups and stir-fries. Try adding some fresh ginger to veggie juices and smoothies. Ginger gives a delicious zing to your morning porridge or Bircher muesli, or baked goods and raw desserts.
Foods rich in protein can help improve metabolism. Eating foods high in protein makes the body use up more calories during digestion compared to eating foods rich in carbohydrates. Protein also helps to keep blood sugar levels and energy levels balanced, and it helps keep you satisfied and full for longer. Protein also provides vital amino acids which are needed for building lean muscle mass which helps burn calories.
Brazil nuts are also one of the richest sources of the trace mineral selenium. This important mineral is crucial for healthy thyroid function and for making thyroid hormones. One of the major roles of the thyroid gland is to control metabolism. If the thyroid gland in not working optimally metabolism will be affected. Making sure your diet contains the right amount of selenium is critical for a healthy metabolism. You only need two Brazil nuts a day to get your daily dose of selenium. Try adding them to a trail mix, natural muesli, granola, protein balls or smoothies.
Seaweed is an excellent source of iodine. This is another important trace mineral essential for healthy thyroid function and production of thyroid hormones, which is required for healthy metabolism.
Studies have shown that certain types of seaweed have anti-obesity effects as they increase the amount of calories you burn. Seaweed contains a brown pigment called fucoxanthin which has been found to promote weight loss by stimulating a protein that causes the breakdown of fat and conversion of energy to heat.
There are a wide variety of seaweeds available including kelp, kombu, wakame, nori and dulse which can easily be incorporated into meals. Try kelp noodles, a seaweed salad, miso soup, or brown rice nori rolls. Sprinkle seaweed flakes onto oven-baked chips, homemade chicken nuggets, or tacos, or use it to season meats, chicken and fish. You can also add a little kelp powder to your morning green smoothie.
MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) found in coconut oil is another metabolism booster. MCTs are easier for the body to digest and can be used as an instant energy source, compared to other longer-chain fatty acids. Studies have shown that MCT oil can help assist with weight loss by increasing the release of two hormones, peptide YY and leptin, that promote the feeling of fullness. MCT has also been found to increase fat burning and help manage blood sugar levels.
Written by Lisa Guy, naturopath and founder of Bodhi Organic Tea.