Metabolism  involves a complex network of hormones and enzymes that not only convert food into fuel but also affect how efficiently you burn that fuel.

Well, that’s the textbook definition.  Most of us think of metabolism when we are talking about our weight.  Of course, your BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate has a lot to do with your weight.  This is the rate at which your body burns calories on a typical day.  It can depend on your age, body composition and gender, as well as how much you move.

If your goal is weight loss, you want to increase your metabolism as much as possible.  This is how you do it:

  • Reduce stress as much as possible.  Constant anxiety can cause your adrenal gland to pump out too much cortisol which sends fat to your midsection and to your vital organs.  Try yoga, walking outdoors, or listening to soothing music.
  • Start lifting weights.  You won’t get huge, I promise!  This is especially important for women.  Each lb of muscle increases your calorie burn by around 50 calories per day.  Adding just 6 lbs of muscle could help you lose almost a lb of fat per week!  Plus, a lb of muscle takes up less space in your jeans than a lb of fat, so your clothes will look better on you too.  As we age, our bodies will naturally lose muscle mass, so unless we do something to combat this loss, your metabolism is going to drop.
  • Add more protein to your meals.  The best time to have protein is after that weight training workout we just talked about.  Your muscles need protein to repair and rebuild, but keep in mind that the body can only use about 30 grams at a time.  So, be sure to spread out your protein throughout the day at each meal.  It’s pretty easy to get.  One 6 oz. chicken breast has 22 grams of protein.
  • Get enough sleep.  Sleepless nights can increase your levels of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates hunger and increases the hormone leptin, which tells you when your full.  Not getting enough sleep can also cause insulin resistance which can lead to weight gain.
  • Eat more plant-based fiber.  Fiber helps stabilize your blood sugar levels and keeps hunger at bay. The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables also help protect healthy cells from free radicals.
  • Add some cardiovascular exercise.  One 45 minute, high intensity workout can increase your calorie burn by 37 percent for up to 14 hours post-exercise, a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise indicates.  Make sure you are exercising at a level that makes it difficult to talk (about 7 on a scale of 1-10) and 1-2 times per week.

These are some great tips to give your metabolism a boost or keep it working at high octane.  If you feel like your weight is spinning out of control, try these tactics out and see if things get better.

Reducing stress is one way to boost your metabolism

Reducing stress is one way to boost your metabolism

I’ll post more on this subject in my next blog.

January 30, 2012 Kerri Davis