Amp up your metabolism

Struggling to shed weight? Rev up your metabolism through certain simple lifestyle changes. Dr Amrapali Patil tells you how.

Name it and you have tried it - walking, gymming, dieting, yoga, jogging, starving, pumping iron, skipping, hopping and what not... But the weighing scale just doesn't seem to budge! And so you pass it off, saying "Darn! It’s my slow metabolism". It seems so easy to blame your metabolism when weight loss is sluggish. Here’s the question worth its salt: Does metabolism influence weight loss? If so, what can we do about it?

Let's get down to the facts and fiction on metabolism. Metabolism is a network of enzymes and hormones. This network helps convert food into energy in our body. It also decides how this energy can be utilised efficiently. Thus, it is our metabolism that decides how quickly we are going to gain or lose weight. All of us have different metabolic rates. There are folks who are slow metabolisers and those who are fast metabolisers. Heredity, age, sex and lean body mass all affect metabolism.

Further, after the age of 40, our metabolism slows by about five percent. As compared to women, men burn more calories at rest. When the lean muscle mass increases by just 2.5 to 5 kgs, the metabolism starts shooting up. What's more, the more muscle you have, the more your body seems to burn calories. Our thyroid gland is also connected with our basal metabolic rate. Hypothyroid states are known to cause a drop in metabolism.

To amp your metabolism, you need to increase your body's need for energy. Here's how you can do it:

n Intense exercise such as interval training and weight lifting increase the need for energy during and post workout. Besides such training uses up energy to repair the muscle tears which can happen when you do weight training with heavier than regular weights. In the world of fitness, this effect is called 'afterburn'. The afterburn keeps your metabolism going up.

n The more muscle you have, the more your body torches those calories. Each extra kg of muscle can burn upto 25 extra calories. The best part is that this happens even as you do absolutely nothing (for instance, you could be fast asleep for all it matters).

n Consuming foods that require energy to digest them is another super method of getting your metabolism all abuzz. A protein-rich diet does this trick. Also a diet rich in indigestible fibre does the same thing.

n Physically active people are   rewarded with fast metabolism, even as they age. Studies depict that those who maintain their physical activity see only a decline of 0.3 - 0.5 percent in their metabolic rate with age. This means even if we age and end up with a slower metabolism, we can still prevent its nastier drop by being more agile and physically active. What are you waiting for? Get those walking and running shoes on! 

n Green tea consumption aids in boosting metabolic rate and thereby helps in inducing weight loss. Green tea contains a compound called ECGC which helps in doing so. So up your intake of green tea to zoom up your metabolism.

n Sleep early and rise early. There are enough number of studies to prove that skipping or cutting down on sleep can impact the metabolic rate. Lack of sleep plummets calorie burn and down comes your metabolism. Research shows that the rate at which body burns calories at rest represents your 60 to 75 percent of your total daily calorie intact. Lack of sleep slows this rate. So nurture those naps and hit the sack early.

n Avoid greasy, salty, sugary, fried and heavy snacks, meals and drinks. Don't skip breakfast and get done with your dinner early on. If you sleep at 10pm, make sure you have your dinner before 8.30pm. And avoid pigging out at dinner. This keeps your body’s metabolism on its toes.

n Indian spices are known to gear up the metabolic rate, albeit to a limited extent. Bell peppers or capsicum too help in weight loss as they increase the body’s    metabolism. But go easy with spicy foods, lest you suffer from an upset tummy the next day.

n Coffee too is a 'pick me up' for metabolism. Caffeine, present in coffee, pumps up the heart rate too. However, there are studies for this and against this. So it’s    better to have a conservative approach when it comes to drinking your cuppa.

n Water, especially at cooler temperature, is known to stimulate the basal metabolic rate. Drink adequate water. It’s an easy and readily available resource to amp your metabolism.

n Omega 3 fatty acids, found in ample amounts in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines, and also in flax seeds and walnuts, trigger metabolism. They help in torching a whopping 300 to 400 calories!

n Avoid air conditioners, heaters and coolers. They seem to  influence our waistlines. When we get too comfortable, it decreases our energy expend. The  consequences are obvious. We tend to eat more when we are all snug and    comfy. So better stick to the natural environment.

(The writer is the founder of Trim ‘N’ Tone weight management & wellness clinic, Mumbai)

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