Your metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories at rest and while you are active. The primary fuels used by your body are carbohydrates (glycogen) and fats. Encouraging your body to burn these fuels at a higher rate is a primary key to weight loss and vitality. Often as we age, our metabolism slows down. To improve your metabolism you need to address muscle density and consider how you are fueling your body.
1. Resistance Training
Resistance training creates the stimulus your body needs to create more muscle. Muscle is the engine that runs your metabolism and consumes a lot of fuel. It is active tissue which means even at rest it is burning calories. So, if you give yourself more muscle through resistance training you are giving your body a larger engine. A larger engine burns more fuel. This means more muscle mass will increase your metabolism.
2. Lift More Weight
While resistance training is helpful it is important to continually challenge your muscles by keeping the intensity up. Muscles adapt to exercise. It is important to do a variety of exercises and to increase the amount of weight that you are lifting as you progress. Very often when I have a new client that is struggling to lose weight one of the first things I make sure they are doing is resistance training. After that I make sure that they are lifting enough weight that they have moderate muscle soreness on a fairly regular basis.
High intensity interval training or HIIT is your metabolisms best friend. Combining high intensity interval training with periods of active recovery improves your body’s ability to burn body fat and improve glucose (carbohydrate). The benefit continues long after the workout because HIIT also increases EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption). What this means is that your metabolism burns fat and carbohydrates at a higher rate for hours after the exercise session has ended.
4. Eat More Protein
If you are going to be doing the work by lifting heavier weights and doing HIIT you need to give your body the building material it needs to build more muscle. Muscle is made up of amino acids. Protein is comprised of amino acids. Some of these amino acids are considered essential. Which means you must get them from your diet because your body cannot make them. Making sure to get a full array of all essential amino acids in your diet is critical to building and repairing muscle. Animal based proteins contain all of the essential amino acids. Vegetarian protein that sources that contain all of the essential amino acids are quinoa, soy, hempseed, and chia. Combining other non-complete vegetarian sources together like beans and rice will offer a complete array of essential amino acids as well. Consuming protein with your meals and snacks reduces the glycemic load of the meal and helps to keep your blood sugar stable. When your blood sugar is stable it enables your body to mobilize body fats and utilize them as a fuel more efficiently. I encourage my clients to include protein in each meal or snack. How much depends on their size and type of exercise they are doing. But a simple reference to use is your hand. Your serving of protein for a meal should be the size of your entire hand. Snacks should be about half of your hand.
5. Drink Green Tea
Among its many other health benefits drinking green tea may help boost your metabolism. According to a small study conducted at the University of Geneva and published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, green tea appears provide a small increase in your metabolism beyond the stimulating effects of caffeine and improve your body’s ability to metabolize fat. Green tea can also help to improve insulin sensitivity. High blood insulin levels can be a result of consuming meals with a high glycemic load or when your cells have become insulin resistant. According to a study published in The Annals of Internal Medicine drinking green tea appears to help correct insulin resistance. This helps to lower blood sugar and insulin levels. When you reduce the amount of insulin in your blood stream it makes it easier for your body to mobilize and burn body fat.