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What Is Metabolism?

Metabolism[1] is essentially the rate at which your body uses energy to function. The things that you eat and drink give your body nutrition  but also vital energy to carry out daily tasks. Everyone has a different metabolic rate which is specific to them. Unfortunately, as we age our metabolic rate naturally slows down from approximately age 25. However, people who continue to look after their physical health have shown smaller reductions in their metabolic decline in subsequent decades[11].

You may wonder why thinking about metabolism is relevant to you. Well if you are overweight and trying to lose weight and get fitter, then finding ways to help boost your metabolism could help. When you have a good metabolism you will feel healthier and as if you have much more energy each day.

From adjusting your diet and considering all the things that you eat and drink right through to the amount of time you spend on physical exercise, there are countless ways to act now to have a healthier tomorrow. In this article I will discuss six of these methods, their benefits and just some of the scientific reasoning behind each suggestion.

FishCredit: mconnors

1. Getting Your Omega-3’s

If you do not eat much fish then now is a great time to start if you want to improve your metabolic rate. This is because omega-3’s (which are the fatty acids in fish) actually help to balance out your blood sugar levels. There is some evidence to suggest that they may help to reduce the body’s resistance to the hormone leptin and this correlates to the speed at which fat is burned off[2]. Therefore, if you choose to eat more salmon, tuna, cod, haddock and other varieties of fish then you could be giving your metabolism a real boost.

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2. Hitting The Gym

Exercise is the most obvious way to increase your metabolism because when you exercise your body naturally goes into the mode of burning off fat more quickly. Making some of your exercise regimes high in intensity will also help. It is widely believed that regular exercise will of course help you to burn fat.

Focus on strength training, building up your stamina and cardiovascular health through cardio training. The reason why these sorts of specific activities will help is because strength training will help you to build up more muscles and muscle tissue can burn more calories than fat tissue can[10].

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3. Improve Your Muscle To Fat Ratio

If you suffer with a sluggish metabolism and you have tried going to the gym and eating lots of freshly cooked fish but still want to do more, then getting muscles may actually help you too. This is because muscle tissue burns calories more readily than fat tissue can[4]. However, do not be alarmed than muscle tissue actually weights more than fat tissues does.

Just think about the vast differences between fat and muscle cells. Did you know that there are three types of muscle cells known as smooth, cardiac and skeletal muscle cells? All of these have difference purposes and are found in different areas of the body. There are also lots of different types of fat cells from brown, white, subcutaneous, visceral and other body fats[5].

It is a complex issue but a simple awareness of the fact that muscle weighs more than fat tissue and that it burns calories faster than fat can, could empower you in your quest to increase your metabolism and to feel like you have more energy throughout the day.

Green TeaCredit: kconnors

4. Green Tea

I personally think that green tea[6]tastes delicious and is refreshing and light in flavor. However, if you do not like the taste then there are countless flavor combinations to try out there from green tea with jasmine right through to green tea and nettle. 

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This organic green tea matcha powder is free from preservatives and can give you an alternative way to try green tea. You could add it to desserts or smoothies or even to some chilled almond milk.

I actually have an article completely dedicated to green tea where you can discover more of its benefits. Although it is well known that green tea contains lots of antioxidants, it is in actual fact the active antioxidant and flavonol catechins[7] which may boost metabolism. Studies have demonstrated that catechins may improve fat oxidation in the body[12] which is great when you are trying to burn fat and lose weight too.

DietCredit: mconnors











5. Do Not Diet: ‘Starvation Mode’

If you are someone who is trying to lose weight then naturally you may have turned to various diets to achieve your weight loss goals. However, did you realize that when you reduce your calorific intake too drastically, your body actually thinks it is in danger and therefore enters what is known as ‘starvation mode’. What this means is that when you skip breakfast and then have a snack later in the day, your body will take and store more fat from that snack than it normally would to try and compensate for the lack of energy sources it is being given. This is what can actually lead to weight gain even though you think you are consuming less.

In starvation mode your body thinks that it is leaner than it should be so it essentially makes every snack or meal that you do have go further. It is basically a way for your body to work at its optimum levels when it thinks it is being rationed by food. Therefore, no diet which actively encourages a drastic reduction in calorie intake is going to be effective in burning off more fat. It is important to keep this in mind when you accidentally skip meals. Try to pack a piece of fruit such as a banana or apple in your bag or an oat bar and a bottle of water for when you are on the go. Snacks containing oats are great because oats are a slow release energy carbohydrate which means you will feel fuller for longer.

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Instead of dieting, think of your body as an engine of sorts which constantly needs fuel to keep going along the tracks. Eating small meals regularly and often will help keep your metabolism on the right tracks. This is because you are keeping your blood sugar levels nice and steady and reducing the risk of having any insulin spikes throughout your day.

FruitCredit: jeltovski










6. Organic Produce

You may have heard that organic foods are better for you and this is because essentially organic products have had fewer chemicals put on to them. Pesticides (and other similar chemicals) can be especially bad for the rate at which you burn off your food because they actually interfere with your thyroid functioning[13].

Your thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located in your neck which controls the metabolism for your whole body. It is the toxins in pesticides which can impair your metabolic rate and interfere with your thyroid’s functioning.

If your thyroid does not work properly or as efficiently as it should then you can develop thyroid conditions. Hypothyroidism[8] is where your thyroid is ‘under active’ and you have a sluggish and slow metabolic rate. At the opposite end of the scale hyperthyroidism[9] is where you have an ‘over active’ thyroid which runs more quickly than it should. Both these conditions can be kept in check with daily medication but there is clearly a myriad of complexities when it comes to one’s metabolism in the body.

However, going organic when you shop means reducing your exposure to these toxins which are present in pesticides. In theory this means the food will be more naturally produced and better for your body overall. It is not necessarily a tool for weight loss but rather for helping to keep your metabolism in check in the best way that you can.