Updated: Jul 31
I remember the glory days of being able to eat what I wanted when I wanted. Others around me would complain that if they looked at food, they would gain weight. Not me. I could eat whole medium pizzas; ingest several sodas, teas, juices; and cookies and cakes galore and I remained the same sleek size. I recall being told that with my height and weight, I could be a model. Naturally when I tested for the ASVAB and recruiters saw both my scores and my weight, they were after me. I was living the dream-eat what I want and never gain an inch to my waistline. Then thyroid issues happened.
When I was hyperthyroid, I had a ravenous appetite and never gained weight. However, hyperthyroidism was slowly killing me. The ER doctor I visited made it quite clear, "If you don't treat this it will kill you." The process of treating hyperthyroid left me with hypothyroid. I basically traded one for the other. My thyroid was destroyed through radioactive iodine therapy and I was forever relegated to taking a thyroid hormone replacement therapy-forever. With hypothyroid came it's own set of symptoms including a shoddy metabolism.
Our metabolism is the process when our bodies convert calories into energy to help our bodies function and keep us alive. The faster our metabolism, the more calories we need to intake. Not to get too technical but there are other things in conjunction that make up our overall metabolism (our basal metabolic rate, the thermic effect of food, the thermic effect of exercise, and non-exercise activity thermogenesis). For more information on the science behind these processes, please see the following article: "The Role of Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis in Human Obesity."
When we are born, our metabolism operates at just the right speed for us. However, over time, our metabolism can become affected by our lifestyle, the composition of our body, our age, and our gender. Activity levels and how we eat also have an effect on our metabolism. In the dieting and fitness world, there is a lot of emphasis on resetting our metabolisms. This is not possible. We can, however, speed up our metabolisms.
Don't skip meals
It sounds so counterintuitive. If I want to lose weight and make my metabolism speed up, stop eating so much because I must be overworking it. However, this reasoning is wrong. Skipping meals is one of the worst things we can do if we are trying to speed up our metabolism. Going for long periods without eating actually results in our bodies breaking down muscle for energy. The more this occurs, the more our metabolism slows down.
Eat more protein
Speaking of not skipping meals, we have to make sure we are eating the right kinds of meals. Afterall, the types of foods that we eat affect our metabolism. It is estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of the energy in protein is used to break down food. Eating enough protein along with enough calories helps prevent muscle loss (which tends to happen as we diet and age).
Maybe you don't have to skip your Starbucks coffee run after all. A cup of coffee can help increase our metabolism for about three hours thanks in part to the caffeine. If you are not a coffee drinker, other substitutes could be green tea or oolong tea. The caffeine in such beverages helps speed our metabolisms by converting the fat in our bodies into free fatty acids which enable more fat to be burned during exercise.
Spice up your life
Spicy foods such as chili peppers contain capsaicin which helps us burn more calories. It is thought that spices help increase the amount of oxygen and raises our body temperatures thereby increasing the number of calories our bodies use as energy.
Drinking water helps us feel full, thus managing our appetite by reducing the amount of calories we consume. Sorry, sugary drinks don't count here. Water helps us keep our blood sugar levels more stable thus aiding in us being able to lose weight. According to research in article, "Water-Induced Thermogenesis," drinking as little as one 16.9 fl oz. bottle of water can help with increasing our resting metabolic rate by 30%.
Standing up takes more energy than sitting down therefore burning calories. This one becomes a challenge to those who drive for a living (truckers, bus drivers, cab services) or those working more sedentary office settings. Whenever possible, try standing up at least once every hour.
Exercise helps burn calories both while we are exercising but also increases the number of calories burned for about 24 hours after we finished exercising. Two types of exercises to look into to aid us in speeding up our metabolism are the quick intense bursts of exercise found in high intensive interval training (HIIT) and the resistance training that helps build and retain our muscle mass found in weight training. The more muscle we have, the faster our metabolism will be.
Here I go harping on sleep again, but dear readers, it is that important. Inadequate sleep can increase our hunger, increase our blood sugar levels, increase our insulin resistance, and decrease our ability to make good decisions. Find your sweet spot, but for most between 7 to 9 hours should be sufficient.
Centering our efforts on eating regularly, eating plenty of protein, adding in spices, increasing exercise, and increasing restful sleep are all ways to aid us in speeding our metabolism. Small changes done consistently will help us improve our overall physical wellness. Thank you for joining us another week. Hope you found an activity that you can add to your wellness routine to help boost your metabolism and overall health. If you have, we'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Please remember as you begin this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading.
"Happy people continuously change; and because they change they become more and more happy; and then more and more change is possible." ~Osho
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