One of the questions I’m asked most often as a personal trainer is, “How do I raise my metabolism?” It’s an excellent question, because boosting your metabolism can help improve your weight-loss success and help you maintain your slimmer body more easily. In this two-part article, I’ll share the advice I give to my clients with you!
The very best way to improve your metabolism and burn more calories even when you’re at rest is to train with weights. Why? Weight training has been shown to increase exercise post-oxygen consumption (EPOC), which means your metabolism may be raised for hours — in some cases as long as 36 hours — after the session. Weight training is also the main way to stimulate the growth of muscle tissue, which is metabolically active, so it requires calories even when at rest. Translation: muscle burns more calories than fat, even when you’re not exercising. Muscle tissue also helps boost 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 because you won’t be wasting time waiting for a spot, and you’ll 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 carbs can be a valuable tool for your metabolism. For example, you may expend more calories consuming 20 grams of carbohydrates from lentils than 20 grams of carbohydrates from sugar. The lentils contain fiber and other nutrients that the body must work to extract, which makes it expend more energy. Look for fibrous, low-glycemic carbs and focus on unprocessed carbohydrates.
“Zigzagging” calories is by far one of the most effective methods for keeping your metabolism revved, because it fights your body’s attempts to achieve homeostasis. Homeostasis is the action your body takes to “remain stable.” In other words, if you reduce your calories, your body will try to slow your metabolism in order to keep things the same. By zigzagging calories, or switching up the amount you’re eating, you may be able to thwart this mechanism. Some people zigzag day by day; for example, if their target is 2000 calories per day, they’ll consume 1800 one day and 2200 the next. I prefer to consume low calories for a week or two, then raise calories for a week, and then drop them again.
Check back next week for more tips on how to raise your metabolism!