It is now the heart of summer, and everyone is enjoying the cut physiques they created to display at the beach or by the pool. In a few months, however, Summer will give way to Fall with its onslaught of holiday activities ranging from candy collection to cookie baking and feasting on large quantities of turkey.
By adopting the right habits now, however, you can ensure that your metabolism will be ready for the Fall-fare so that you can stay lean well into the winter. These are the top ten ways you can boost your metabolism and keep it high—even through Fall.
The technical definition of metabolism is the sum of all the chemical and physical changes that take place within the body and enable its continued growth and functioning. Metabolism involves the breakdown of complex organic constituents of the body with the liberation of energy, which is required for other processes and the building up of complex substances, which form the material of the tissues and organs.
You may have heard terms thrown around such as anabolism and catabolism. These terms refer to actions that take place within your body. Contrary to popular belief, catabolism isn't just the loss of muscle tissue. When you burn fat, you are catabolic—fortunately, the catabolism is taking place where you want it to.
Conversely, any time your body builds or stores (such as growth of muscle tissue or storage of fat) the process is called anabolic. Sculpting a lean physique means focusing on habits that promote catabolism of fat tissue and anabolism of muscle tissue.
One advantage to having a higher metabolism is that you can consume more food or exercise less to achieve the same results. A higher metabolism implies your body is expending more energy. Therefore, you can take on more energy in the form of food while maintaining your shape or even losing fat. While any one of the following techniques may only impact your metabolism a small bit, the cumulative effect can have a major impact.
- Train With Weights: Training with weights boosts your metabolism in a number of ways. Weight training itself has been shown to increase exercise post oxygen consumption (EPOC)—in other words, your metabolism may be raised for hours or even days after the session. Weight training is also the main way to stimulate the growth of muscle tissue.
Muscle tissue is metabolically active, so it requires calories even when at rest. Muscle tissue also helps increase the number of fat-burning enzymes and organelles in your body.
- Supplement With Healthy Fats: Healthy fats are involved in the manufacture of hormones and repair of cell membranes in your body. With the right types of fats, your body can use these anabolically.
These processes require energy, so the fats may actually increase your metabolism despite the added calories you are consuming! You can add fats to your diet without increasing calories simply by increasing the percentage of calories from fats and then lowering the percentage of calories from carbohydrates or proteins.
- Every Little Bit Counts: Believe it or not, simply changing some simple daily habits can have a huge impact on your metabolism. Do you play the game of driving around the parking lot for twenty minutes waiting for the perfect space to open? Instead, park at the edge of the parking lot and walk to your destination.
You'll probably get there quicker, and burn some calories along the way. Other metabolism-boosting activities include standing instead of sitting, taking stairs instead of elevators, and even fidgeting!
- Don't Fear Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are not the enemy. Using the right types of carbohydrates can be a valuable tool for your metabolism.
For example, you may expend more calories consuming 20 grams of carbohydrate from lentils than 20 grams of carbohydrate from sugar. The lentils contain fiber and other nutrients that the body must work to extract, and therefore expends more energy. Look for fibrous, low-glycemic carbs and focus on unprocessed carbohydrates.
- Fluctuate Calories: Zigzagging calories is by far one of the most effective methods for keeping your metabolism revved. Homeostasis is the action your body takes to "remain stable." In other words, if you drop your calories, your body will try to slow your metabolism in order to keep things the same.
By zigzagging calories, you may be able to thwart this mechanism. Some people zigzag day by day—for example, if their target is 2000 calories, they'll consume 1800 one day and 2200 the next. I prefer to consume low calories for a week or two, and then raise calories for a week, and then drop them again.
- Increase Protein: Protein requires a complex chemical conversion by your body in order to be used as fuel. It takes up to 30% of the calories you consume to oxidize or use protein for energy.
For example, 100 calories of protein may take up to 30 calories to process. Therefore, increasing the percentage of calories in your diet that come from protein may help raise your metabolism.
- Perform High Intensity Cardio: High intensity cardio, like weight training, takes you into the anaerobic zone of training. This, in turn, creates what is known as "oxygen debt." Even when you have concluded your exercise, the body is processing waste and recovering from the activity—and therefore keeping your metabolism elevated.
- Increase Frequency Of Eating: Most bodybuilders are aware of this technique. Consuming food triggers digestion, and digestion requires calories. By eating more frequent, smaller meals, you continuously supply your body with nutrients while forcing it to digest and break down the foods. This, in turn, can have the net effect of raising your metabolism.
- Eat Whole Foods: The calories that you burn during digestion are due to the need for your body to break down the foods. Your body must extract the fiber and nutrients, take chains of molecules and chop them into smaller versions to absorb them into your bloodstream, and perform a variety of tasks in order to assimilate foods.
When foods are processed, much of this work is done for you. For example, processed flour is ground into small pieces that the body can digest more quickly. This means your blood sugar rises faster and your body expends fewer calories processing the flour.
Whole grains, on the other hand, pack more nutrients, are higher in fiber, and force the body to work harder to use them as energy. Another advantage to eating whole foods is that many of the nutrients in these foods—such as vitamins and minerals—are co factors in metabolic processes that your body uses to burn fat and build muscle.
- Drink Cold Water: This tip is probably overrated. Your body will expend more calories trying to raise cold water to the temperature of your body, but the exact amount is debatable. It stands to reason, however, that integrating this habit with the other habits listed above can contribute to the greater goal of raising your metabolism.
These are just a few habits you can embrace to start revving your metabolism right away. You may have heard stories about people who have lost dozens of pounds simply switching to diet soda or walking a few minutes each day. These are all small habits that contribute to a big difference over time.
In addition to raising your metabolism, you'll want to manage the foods you do eat—in other words, keep from going overboard on calories—and focus on expending more calories through regular exercise.