Morgan’s Metabolism Mayhem
Morgan thought she was invincible. All through college and her early twenties, Morgan ate all the fast food burgers, fries and beer she wanted; while laughing at her friends who told her it would “catch up with her one day.” She had always been naturally thin and active, enjoying adrenaline-packed outdoor activities like mountain biking and backcountry touring. Weight had never been an issue for Morgan, and neither was what she put into his body – until her 33rd birthday. Morgan noticed a round belly starting to form and that her pants were fitting a bit tighter than usual. Morgan was experiencing the natural phenomenon of progressive metabolism decline with age. Not to fear however, her friend recommended she try a guaranteed metabolism-boosting drink recipe from the Internet. It involved apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and honey – taken three times every day. After a month of trying this, Morgan was the same weight, felt more tired than ever and above all - frustrated.
Your Dietitian’s Advice
The term “metabolism” is often thrown around when discussing weight loss, sports nutrition and the key to how we can maintain a healthy weight. So what exactly is our metabolism? This general term describes all chemical reactions in our bodies to keep us alive and functioning. However, metabolism and metabolic rate (or calorie burn) are often used interchangeably – we’ll be discussing metabolic rate specifically here. Making changes to increase your metabolic rate can leave you feeling like an energized, calorie-burning machine. Here are some simple tips Morgan could benefit from instead of her apple cider-cayenne concoction. Just remember, check with your health care professional before starting any new diet or exercise plan.
- The Power of Protein
Did you know that the food you eat actually increases your metabolism for a few hours following ingestion? This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF) and is caused by the extra calories it takes to process, digest, and absorbs the nutrients from our diet. Protein causes the highest TEF of 10-15%; compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0 – 3% for fats. Plus, protein has been shown to keep you feeling full and satisfied to prevent overeating at your next meal. Protein needs are individualized based on your age, gender and personal goals – check with your nutrition professional if you’re not sure what’s right for you.
- Listen to Your Hunger
Many folks associate eating often throughout the day with weight gain, and conversely, a slower metabolism. Well, I’m here to tell you that listening to your body and eating regular, small meals throughout the day actually helps increase your metabolism. The key point here is to only eat when you’re feeling hungry to prevent munching on mindless snack binges. Having your body fuelled with the energy it requires can help keep that fire burning all day long.
- Drink Green or Oolong Tea
Various studies have shown that drinking these teas can boost metabolism by 4-5% by converting fat in your body to free fatty acids used for energy. While the effect is minimal, it can help combat the weight loss plateau that often occurs during weight loss. Tea is also naturally low in calories – so sip away!
- Try a HIIT Workout
Work smarter, not harder. I’m sure we’ve all heard this before – but have you considered the efficiency of the way you exercise? High intensity interval training, or HIIT, involves short, intense bursts of exercise broken up with rest periods. HIIT training both burns fat, and keeps the calories burning long after your workout is finished. Want to try this out yourself? Switch up your next steady state jog or bike ride with 30-second “sprints” or maximal effort outputs and then 1 minute of rest, or easy effort.
- Lift Heavy Things
It’s well known that muscle is more metabolically active than fat. What does this translate to? Building more muscle will actually help burn more calories – even at rest! This also helps combat the drop in metabolism that naturally occurs with weight loss. To start, try 1-2 days per week of 30 minutes of light weights and high repetitions.
Overall, incorporating these simple lifestyle changes into your daily routine can help rev up your energy levels, lose weight, and keep it off. Morgan could benefit from setting small goals and focusing on how energized she feels in her next outdoor adventure!