3 Ways to Kick-Start Your Metabolism

Do you think your metabolism is as slow as molasses, and seems to be getting slower by the minute? You may have heard that as you get older your metabolism slows down, which seems to explain why the darned numbers continue to creep up on the scale every year even when everything else in your life seems to have stayed the same. So what is metabolism anyways and why is it so determined to make us fat? And more importantly is there anything we can do to make it faster rather than slower? These are questions I hear from my clients often.

As impossible as it sounds, it actually isn’t that hard to get your metabolism to pick up the pace. In fact a lot of how your metabolism works is really based on your lifestyle habits and your overall body composition- which also explains why it tapers off for most of us as we get older!

So what is metabolism anyways? A very simple explanation of metabolism is the processes by which your body breaks down food for energy. But what most of us mean when we say we want to have a faster metabolism is that we want to increase our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the energy that our body needs to burn at rest.

I know many of you are scratching your heads thinking “ok so how the heck do I get my body to burn more calories at rest”… well this is where the body composition part comes in because as most of us have heard our muscles require more energy to “survive” at rest than do our fat cells which means the more muscle mass to fat mass that we have the faster our metabolism is going to be.

Now before the skeptics role their eyes thinking these are supposed to be EASY ways to get that metabolism rolling and going to the gym to pound iron hardly sounds easy – let me restate that what I am talking about is the RATIO of muscle to fat mass, which can even be effected by the way we eat.

So what are 3 easy ways to get your metabolism back into gear?

Tip # 1: Eat small meals more often – Human beings are considered grazing mammals – which means that if food is available we should eat small amounts of food pretty much continuously – think cow on the pasture. Now if you are one of those people who eats only dinner what you’re telling your body is “DROUGHT/FAMINE!” which automatically means that your body will do it’s best to conserve energy until the next available meal which = slower metabolism and an increased storage of energy in the form of fat which effects that muscle:fat ratio we were just talking about… Eating 3 small meals and 2 snacks on the other hand means our body can be frivilous with the calories we consume and burn more for the heck of it – YAY! This also equals less fat storage which means a better muscle:fat ratio.

Tip # 2 Drink water – plenty of it (or at least your 8 glasses a day)!  Considering our body is 90% water, staying hydrated impacts how effectively our body burns food for fuel. That’s because not only is water required for metabolism, but it also makes up a big part of the blood that circulates oxygen and nutrients to our muscles – again increasing the ability of our body to burn more calories, which equals a better muscle: fat ratio. Carrying a bottle of water with you and/or taking a water break rather than a coffee break are great ways to increase your intake.

Tip #3: Build muscle mass/decrease fat mass – The first thing that most of us think about when we think about building muscle and/or losing fat is exercise. Exercise is definitely one of the best ways to positively impact our body composition, but you don’t have to go to the gym or play sports to benefit. Simply incorporating about 30 minutes of strengthening activities like push ups, sit ups, lunges and lifting light weights twice a week can build muscle mass. An easy way to do this is to do a few push ups during commercial breaks while your watching your favorite show. You can also decrease fat mass by incorporating some aerobic activities into your day like parking a bit further so you can walk and using the stairs rather than elevators, or incorporating a 10 min brisk walk during your lunch break. It may not sound like much, but even these little changes can add up over time.

Remember changing habits takes time so start slowly and be consistent. You don’t have to be at 100% right away – just make one or two changes that you know that you can maintain, and then build on it!

* Image by Ambro |