If you’re trying to lose weight the traditional idea of a ‘diet’ may not be too appealing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact there are plenty of delicious foods and tips that help boost your metabolism and aid in fat burning.
“Metabolism is the term given to process of converting what you eat and drink into energy,” says Dr Ryan Harvey of House Call Doctor.
“It is a complex biochemical process where what you eat is combined with oxygen to release energy.” Even as we sit on the couch seemingly doing “nothing” to exert ourselves our body requires energy to continue vital functions such as breathing, circulating blood, growing, adjusting hormone levels and more.
“The number of calories an individual requires to perform these vital functions is known as their basal metabolic rate, or their metabolism,” says Dr Harvey. There are a number of factors which influence this rate including your body size and composition, sex and age.
“Your basal metabolic rate makes up 70% of the calories you burn, the other 30% comes from food processing and physical activity.” It is worth knowing your basal metabolic rate in order to work out how many calories your body needs to function.
Unfortunately your metabolism is largely defined by genetics. But don’t go blaming mum and dad just yet, there are some tips you can follow help give your metabolism a boost which may aid in weight loss.
- Eat nutritious foods
“Your metabolism is closely linked to nutrition,” says Dr Harvey. “Everything you eat is converted into energy and either stored or burned. Furthermore eating actually causes an uptick in your metabolism, the ‘thermic effect of food’.”
So it is no use thinking that starving yourself or going hungry is helping you lose weight, instead eating nutritious and low calorie foods will assist your metabolism. These include:
- Beans - The metabolism relies on protein and fibre and beans are a rich source of both.
- Lean meat - Low in fat and a great source of protein.
- Chilli - Chillis contain capsinoids which have been shown to increase energy expenditure.
- Coffee & Green Tea - Not only do these caffeinated beverages give your mind and body a boost but they can assist you metabolism too.
- Whole grains - Whole grains are harder for the body to break down than processed grains which may help your body burn more fat. They are also a rich source of fibre.
- Chocolate - This may seem too good to be true but 70% cacao dark chocolate is a rich source of magnesium which helps support healthy glucose levels.
- Gain muscle mass
“Muscle is more metabolically active than fat or bone so the more muscle mass an individual has the more calories they will be burning during activities and exercise,” says Dr Harvey.
Using weights or bodyweight exercises to build strength and muscle is a great way to give your metabolism a boost.
- Get adequate sleep
“Adequate sleep is a fundamental to overall health,” says Dr Harvey. “Sleep deprivation effects many aspects of daily life, including your metabolism and weight loss journey.”
When we are tired we are more likely to crave ‘bad’ foods. When we are running on empty it is often easier to grab some takeaway instead of cooking a wholesome meal. “If you are sleep deprived you will not only feel worse but you will be more likely to make poor food choices and it can stop your metabolism from functioning properly,” says Dr Harvey.
The Sleep Foundation recommends that adults require at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
- Keep hydrated
“All chemical reactions within the body rely on water,” says Dr Harvey. “Your metabolism is no different.”
Research have found that those who drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day had a higher metabolic rate than those drinking 4.
Particularly, cold water helps raise resting metabolism, presumably due to the increased effort to heat the water to body temperature.