Boost Your Metabolism

Apr 6, 2021

By Barret Procyshyn, Family Pharmacist at Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

You have likely heard or even used the sayings - "Wow, that person looks very trim and look at how much they can eat: They must have a great metabolism". Or as we age, we state "My metabolism isn't exactly what it used to be".

Metabolism is a widely used word but what does it refer to? It is a term used to summarize all the chemical reactions responsible for maintaining the living state of the cells and the organism, which is you. Metabolism can be divided into two simple categories of function; the first being catabolism which is the breakdown of molecules to obtain or release energy. The second being anabolism, which refers to the production or construction of molecules; a process which requires energy.

Metabolism is linked to nutrition and the availability of nutrients. The creation of energy is one of the vital components of metabolism. "Boosting metabolism" or "increasing metabolism" is often a goal of those trying to lose weight or increase performance - here is a few proven suggestions to try and get that boost. Remember these are very general and you should always speak to a health care professional if you need customized advice.

You are what you eat, and nutrition significantly affects how well we burn energy. Late night snacking leads to metabolic problems. This is likely because the body is more resistant to insulin at night. The carbohydrate intake contributes to increased sugar the body does not properly process and in turn, leads to weight gain and other complications. Most extra calories at night will be stored as fat, so the best advice is to eat dinner early and keep snacking light.

While adding fibre to your diet slows digestion and may power your body, consuming snacks of refined grains (carbs) and other ingredients can be detrimental. You must skip the white bread, white rice, and prepared snack foods like chips or cookies. Instead eat whole, unprocessed foods, like nuts and grains. Avoiding alcohol is also important if weight loss and performance is important to you. A couple of drinks in the evening can completely negate a morning workout and a day of healthy eating.

If you are growing your own garden or plan on visiting the farmers market a little more; you are on the right track. Pesticides and toxins commonly used in growing produce are believed to interfere with the energy-burning process or trigger weight gain. When buying your food, try purchasing organically grown products. It is likely worth the extra cost.

Spicy food also appears to benefit metabolism. Consuming the ancient spice turmeric mixed with small amount of black pepper and capsaicin the chemical found in hot peppers giving them their spice can help you burn extra calories. If spicy food is not for you, turmeric is available in capsule form.

Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep and try to improve your quality of sleep. Poor sleep can slow down your metabolism by up to 20%. Poor sleep quality disturbs hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin, which means you will be more likely to reach for junk food without noticing it.

The most common central nervous system stimulant, caffeine can give you a decent boost. Coffee and tea both are effective, although more evidence is leaning toward the antioxidants in tea making it superior. Remember, the effect of caffeine is often slight and temporary. Also remember using it later in the day may affect sleep. Along with short timely amounts of caffeine, try increasing your water intake, as 1.5 to 2 liters of water a day has also shown to help metabolism.

Exercise is always good, however short intense cardio workouts (if you are able) may have a lot more benefit than being on the treadmill for hours per week. High intensity interval training or short stints of vigorous aerobic workouts repeated after a short rest can help you burn anywhere from 100 to 200 extra calories after your session. HIIT can include intense running, swimming, or biking. If you are unable to do HIIT, just keep moving. Simple stretching while watching tv, standing while talking on the phone or taking the stairs will all help the burn.

Adding weight such as pumping iron or finding proven bodyweight exercises with more time under tension may also increase your calorie burn long after you stop working out. Like HIIT we are starting to see some evidence heavy weight training will create a calorie burn after your workout is over.

Certain health conditions may also interfere with metabolism, which will be the focus next week so stay tuned!


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