Anyone who has tried to lose weight knows that it can be difficult. And if your metabolism isn’t on your side, it’s even harder!
It can be frustrating to keep returning to the scale only to see little or no progress. When you’ve tried every new diet, and bought every book, things can seem frustrating and impossible. If any of that sounds familiar, then it could be due to a sluggish metabolism.
Understanding How Metabolism Works
The term “metabolism” is the name given to the chemical process carried out by the body when it converts the food or stored body fat into energy. Even if you are lying still, your body requires an energy source to keep its involuntary functions working.
During sleep, the body is making repairs and replacing cells that have become too damaged or weak. During these rest periods, the food or fat your body has collected is converted into nourishment for your body and to build new cells.
The number of calories an individual burns at rest is called the basal metabolic rate (BMR) or resting metabolic rate (RMR). When you have a slower metabolism, this number will be lower.
As we age, the body loses some of its ability to regenerate and repair damaged or over worked cells and need to be replaced. This is because as humans age, our metabolism naturally slows down, causing us to store fat that we were at one time able to burn by simply being active. As people progress into their late 30’s and early 40’s, the metabolism becomes less efficient.
Not only that, but calorie restricting diets slow metabolism even more. With calorie restriction, the body tries to maintain its current weight by going into starvation mode, thinking that there is a shortage of food so it must conserve energy.
A slower metabolism means that you won’t burn calories or metabolize the fat stored in your body as quickly—so it’s important to be proactive about boosting your metabolism.
How You Can Change Your Diet to Speed Up Your Metabolism
Eat Your Protein
The first thing you can do if you want to naturally boost your metabolism is to make sure you’re eating enough protein. Most people find that they are eating less protein than they thought once they begin tracking what they consume. A good place to start is eating 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. (Source)
Some healthy sources of protein include:
- Organic, pastured Chicken Egg or Duck Eggs
- Grass-fed and finished beef
- Organic Poultry
- Wild caught fish and seafood
- Protein powder – Ancient Nutrition is my favorite brand.
If you are on a plant-based diet, there are protein options for you as well! Try:
- Nuts and nut butter
- Nut milks
- Hemp protein powder
- Gluten-free oats
- Sprouted lentils
Have Spicy Foods
Believe it or not, eating foods that are spicy can also give your metabolism a nice little boost because they contain a compound called capsaicin. Studies have shown that capsaicin creates “enhanced lipid oxidation and increased energy expenditure” (Source). Increased energy expenditure means a faster metabolism! Peppers are easy to add to soup, chili, sandwiches, or in any type of sauce that you are preparing.
Add Apples & Broccoli to Your Diet
This close relative of cabbage can have a positive effect on your metabolism. It is super high in antioxidants and carries a high amount of calcium, which is known for its ability to help the body metabolize fats. Broccoli is also high in dietary fiber, which helps to clean out the intestinal tract. A clearer intestinal tract, particularly of the lower intestine, means that broken down foods can be more easily absorbed. When plaque builds up in the intestines, the body has a harder time absorbing the nutrients that it needs.
Apples are well known for promoting a healthy digestive tract. They are full of useful vitamins and are high in fiber that the body needs to sweep the digestive tract. Modern science has discovered that this is largely due to the agent found in apples called pectin. Pectin has the ability to bond to cholesterol and many toxins found in the body to make them easier to eliminate. Apples aren’t the only fruits that contain pectin. Plums, pears, and some berries also contain this amazing agent. Since apples are low in fat and calories, they are also ideal for weight loss.
Focus on Getting a Variety of Nutrients
Not only do you want to have the right amount of protein in your diet, but other nutrients are just as important for boosting and maintaining an active metabolism. Pay attention to the amount of nutrients like iron, zinc, and selenium in your diet.
Here are some tips for having balanced meals and snacks:
Focus on different food groups – Choosing foods from different foods groups will help ensure that you get a lot of the important vitamins and minerals that your body needs for a higher metabolism.
Switch up your foods regularly – If you eat the same thing every day, you may run into issues where nutrients as well as beneficial bacteria are too low. For instance, if you consistently eat foods that are low in fiber, then your beneficial flora may be lacking and therefore create an imbalance in your gut microbiome.
Have something green with every meal – If you have trouble ensuring you eat enough healthy foods, one place to start is by adding green foods. This makes it simple! You can begin by adding a side salad to every lunch and green veggies such as zucchini, broccoli, bell peppers, brussels sprouts to every dinner.
Track what you eat – When in doubt, track your food! There are apps that not only show you the dietary information like calories and carbs, but the protein, zinc, and various vitamins as well. The app My Fitness Pal is awesome for helping you to track your meals and nutrients.
Whether you eat several small meals throughout the day, or fewer large ones with small snacks in between, figure out what schedule works for you and try to stick to it so your body knows when it will get its boosts of energy. Personally, I follow an intermittent fasting program so my body burns more fat for fuel and it also boosts my metabolism.
Of course maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a regular sleep schedule, exercise routine and stress-relieving activities is an important part of maintaining a quick metabolism as we get older too!
I hope this helps you if you’re battling a sluggish metabolism.