Many people want to lose weight. There are thousands of weight-loss supplements out there. And if you google articles about metabolism and burning fat you can get lost in millions of search results. After checking all of the 17,1 million Google search results (well, give or take a few), I decided to help you. Here is all you need to know about metabolism and burning fat. Let me start by saying there is – obviously – no magic pill that can change your body. In reality, it comes down to your diet, exercise, and self-care. But there are things you can do to keep your weight in check and increase your metabolism and fat burn.
What Is Metabolism?
Simply put, your metabolism is the process by which your body converts food into energy. Of course, this is a complex biochemical process. Calories in food and beverages combine with oxygen and release energy that you need to live and carry out all your activities. And believe me, there are more activities going on in your body than you can imagine. I’m not talking about things you do consciously. I’m talking about things that happen automatically, like breathing, having your heart beat, circulate blood, transporting hormones, creating and repairing cells and a million things more.
Your body requires energy from calories to carry out these basic functions. This is called basal metabolic rate or, simply put, your metabolism. Your metabolic rate is determined by your body size and composition, your gender and your age. People with more muscle burn more calories, even at rest. Men generally have more muscles than women, so they burn more calories and fat. As you get older, muscle mass usually decreases and fat mass increases, slowing down your metabolism.
Even though your metabolism is fairly stable, there are ways to speeds things up.
Why Increase Your Metabolism?
Having a better metabolism comes with many health benefits. With a faster metabolism your energy levels will be much more stable. Improved energy levels means you will hardly feel tired. Because your body will be converting food into fuel more efficiently and provide you with a steady source of energy. People with an improved metabolism can mentally focus more easily. And, obviously, they are less likely to gain weight and burn fat more quickly.
Increase Your Metabolism by Eating
Sounds good, right? So what can you do? You can increase your metabolism with certain foods. Your need nutrients to kick-start your metabolism and burn fat. That is why skipping meals to lose weight is not a good idea. Which foods can speed up your metabolism?
Beans and pulses are full of great protein and rich in fiber. (Pulses are the dried seeds of the legume plants, like lentils and peas.) Your body needs a lot of energy to break down fiber and protein. So these foods are not just super healthy. The also keep your metabolism up and running. The high fiber content of beans helps regulate your blood sugar level and can therefore prevent sugar cravings. Legumes are also a source of iron, zinc, and selenium. Your thyroid uses these minerals to produce hormones. And those hormones, in turn, are essential for a properly working metabolism.
Just like legumes, nuts are another excellent source of protein and fiber. People who eat nuts have a lower risk of insulin resistance and generally have a smaller waist size than people who do not. With a lower insulin resistance your body is less likely to store fat or develop type 2 diabetes. And just like in the case of legumes, nuts take long to break down. That means they are more satisfying and better for your metabolism. In fact, eating nuts leads to an increased energy expenditure that can help you burn as much as 10% more of your overall energy yield.
3. Whole Grains
Not all carbs are bad. Whole grains are carbs. But they are a complex carbohydrate, consisting of a longer series of sugars. Your body takes longer to break them down. That means your metabolism is burning steadily for a longer period of time after eating complex carbohydrates. Consuming whole grains increases your energy expenditure by up to 50% in comparison to eating processed foods.
Food with complex carbohydrates often contain other beneficial nutrients too, like B vitamins. B vitamins play a part in converting food into energy. Vitamin B12 specificially boosts metabolism and provides long-lasting energy. So eat whole grains istead of processed grains. Look for whole-wheat bread and pasta, quinoa, brown rice, barley, corn, and oats.
4. Probiotic Foods
I eat yogurt every day. It is good for many reasons. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir and kimchi increase the number of good bacteria in your gut. The importance of good bacteria in your intestines cannot be overstated. In the past few years, scientists have been in awe about the essential roles they play in our bodies. It is the bacteria that are largely responsible for digesting food and facilitating the intake of nutrients.
In one amazing study, researches found that adults who eat just half a cup of probiotic yogurt after dinner every night for six weeks lost 3 to 4% body fat! And adults who ate plain yogurt lost 1% body fat. Probiotics may change the way the body metabolizes bile acids that are produced in the liver. These acids break down fats in the upper gut. If that is true, it means probiotics influence how much fat your body absorbs from food. Great to know, right?
You probably know the effect of coffee. Caffeine is a great way to increase your metabolism. It blocks a neurotransmitter called adenosine. In turn, other neurotransmitters release more dopamine and norepinephrine. It results in you feeling more alert and energized. And that’s why many people have a coffee before they work out. Caffeine is good for you, but only in small doses. It can increase your metabolic rate by 3 to 11%, depending on how much you drink. People who take caffeine-based supplements can increase fat burning by as much as 29%.
So, eating these foods can really help you increase your metabolism and burn fat. But just eating alone will not be enough if you want to lose weight and become more fit. For that, you also need enough sleep and enough exericse. There is more to read about a healthy diet in this blog about my clean eating program. And feel free to check out my exercising methods here. Stay tuned for more articles in my Health & Fitness section.