Metabolism is the human body’s process of turning food into energy that can be used or stored. While some factors that affect your metabolism are outside of your control --including your sex, height, and age --there are some things you can do to promote a healthy metabolism. Here are tips and tricks that can help.
1) Build lean muscle mass
Metabolism is often measured as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the number of calories your body expends at rest to keep your body functioning. Because muscle uses more energy than fat, the leaner muscle mass you have, the higher your BMR will be, and the more calories you’ll burn at rest. Increasing your BMR can help you burn extra fat stored in your body if you’re trying to lose weight or prevent you from gaining extra weight if you’re working on weight maintenance. Learning about bodyweight assessment can really help achieve your workout goals.
2) Increase your protein intake
Eating protein with every meal is another way to boost your metabolism. This has to do with a phenomenon called the Thermal Effect of Food (TEF), which is the amount of energy required to digest different foods. Compared to carbs and fat, protein has a higher TEF, which means your body burns more calories when you eat protein than when you eat carbs or fats. An added benefit of protein is that it keeps you feeling full longer. One study showed that people whose diet was made up of at least 30% protein ate about 400 calories less a day than people who ate less protein.
3) Drink a cup of coffee
Coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant that causes the body to release adrenaline. Adrenaline accelerates your BMR by increasing the rate at which fat stores are broken down into usable energy. In addition, caffeine is also a mild appetite suppressant that can help you avoid overeating.
4) Get your thyroid checked
Your thyroid releases hormones that support a healthy metabolism. However, if the thyroid is underactive (a condition called hypothyroidism), your metabolism will be sluggish, which causes weight gain and inhibits weight loss. If you’ve been eating a well-balanced diet and exercising but you’re gaining weight or you’re unable to lose weight, a simple blood test can evaluate your thyroid hormones to see if hypothyroidism is to blame.
5) Use a standing desk
Standing desks have been shown to improve blood sugar and reduce the neck, shoulder, and back pain people often experience when they’re sitting at a desk all day. In addition, using a standing desk burns more calories than sitting. In one study, people who used a standing desk burned 174 calories more in a day than their sedentary counterparts.
6) Drink some green tea
Green tea promotes a healthy metabolism for two reasons. First, like coffee, green tea contains caffeine, which accelerates fat burning and serves as a mild appetite suppressant. Second, green tea contains a compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that has been shown to increase the body’s rate of fat breakdown by as much as 17%. If you're not a green tea drinker, try these other hot healthy winter drinks or really any season drinks.
7) Get plenty of sleep.
The average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep a night for optimum health. However, 30% of adults in the U.S. get less than 6 hours of sleep a night. This can cause metabolic and hormonal dysregulation, which leads to weight gain. Also, people who are sleep-deprived are more likely to eat more calories and choose foods that are higher in simple carbohydrates and fats than people who are well-rested.
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Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant