If you read part one of this metabolism two-parter, you will know that the only way to lower your basal metabolic rate is by losing fat and building lean muscle. Your basal metabolic rate is the amount of energy your body burns when it is at rest, and affects how quickly your body burns calories in all activities.
There are many claims out there implying that there are other means to raise your metabolic rate, but the only thing that works is building the lean muscle tissue in your body (and burning fat), as your body must work harder to maintain lean muscle than fatty tissue.
Having said that, there are certain nutritional choices that you can make that will help give your metabolism little boosts throughout the day and make your body work harder to process them. This will not affect your basal metabolic rate, however, it will boost the amount of calories that your body uses in order to work through processes like digestions and elimination.
Weight Loss Fallacies
Many people believe that weight loss is a simple matter of chopping your calories for a bit, witling down your weight, and then going back to business as usual. If you have tried this method, however, you know that the pounds soon come back to roost, and bring with them a few of their close friends. There are certain dieting fallacies that need to be exposed, as they are counterproductive to boosting your metabolism.
Two of the primary weight loss fallacies are related to reduced-calorie diets. One of the worst things you can do for your metabolism is skip meals, breakfast being the most common example. One of the built-in mechanisms of your body is that it will struggle to maintain the weight it is at. The primary tool to do this is adjusting metabolism and triggering the storage of fat when it is unsure where its next meal is coming from.
This is really an amazing system if you think about it. It is a powerful mechanism for people who are starving, allowing the body to conserve as much of its energy as possible in times of need. The problem is that our bodies cannot tell the difference between starving ourselves to get skinny and starving from a lack of food. Therefore, when you go all night and all morning without eating breakfast, your body automatically begins to store fat and slow down because it simply doesn’t know when the next meal is coming.
In addition, when you are asleep, your metabolism slows down because you are at rest and it doesn’t need to work as hard. It doesn’t kick in again until you have that first bite of something in the morning. A good way to keep your body fuelled steadily and avoid overeating is to eat 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day. This gives your metabolism a kick in the pants and steady meals to keep it chugging along.
Another dieting fallacy to avoid is the use of “herbal” metabolism boosters. While they may seem to work in the long run, they are not actually boosting your metabolism in a permanent way. Basically, you are ingesting stimulants that make your heart pound, suppress your appetite and act as a diuretic, eliminating excess water from your system. These have many of the same effect as smoking cigarettes on the system, proving that what makes you lose weight isn’t necessarily good for you! Aside from the possible side effects of such stimulants (dizziness, nauseam frequent urination), chances are very good that once you get off them, you will regain all the weight you lost.
The following foods act as natural boosters or supports for your weight loss. This does not mean that they will raise your basal metabolic rate, but they will give you a little boost, and will help your body work harder, both at rest and while you are working out. They have no long term effects on your basal metabolic rate, however.
Complex Carbohydrates and Fibre: When you ingest complex carbs that are high in fibre (whole-grain cereals, multigrain breads, beans, fruit), your body must work harder to break them down than they do simple sugars. Also, ingesting these nutrients does not trigger the spike in insulin (signalling your body to store fat) that simple sugars found in alcohol and refined starches and sugar do.
Calcium: Found in milk and cheese, a study at the University of Tennessee found that calcium supports the metabolism, aiding in a weight loss program.
Capsaicin: This is the ingredient in hot chilis such as habaneros and jalapenos, as well as chilli powder and cayenne pepper. Spicy foods give the body a kick because they make your body temperature rise (metabolism can increase up to 7% per degree the body’s temperature rises). This effect is temporary, but if you eat something spicy before you work out, the boost to your metabolism can make for a more efficient workout.
Caffeine: It is proven that consuming caffeine before a workout can increase stamina (making for a longer workout), and increases your heart rate and the intake of oxygen. While many drink coffee for this kick, green tea is another good alternative, which revs up the brain and nervous system, as opposed to going right to your heart like the caffeine.
Protein: Protein is one of the most difficult nutrients to digest, therefore your body must work extra hard to break it down, burning more calories in the process.
Water: Your body’s organs cannot work efficiently unless they are well-hydrated. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day will support healthy organ function and keep your body running smoothly.
Two common myths regarding metabolism are that vitamin B12 boosts your metabolism and that eating after 6:00 pm slows down your metabolism. Both are claims that have no basis in science.
In the end, the best thing you can do for your metabolism, nutrition-wise, are many of the same suggestions for general body health. The less processed the food in your diet are, the harder your body must work to break them down, and the less likely they are to trigger hormonal reactions that will slow the metabolic rate. Eat well, don’t skip meals, and make sure that cardio (to burn fat) and resistance training (to build lean muscle) are a part of your daily regimen. These elements will support a faster metabolic rate, and help your whole body run efficiently.