Boost Your Metabolism Naturally

Use these healthy living tips to keep your metabolism running at maximum efficiency.

| November/December 2012

  • A healthy lifestyle based on proper nutrition and adequate exercise can keep our metabolisms running at maximum efficiency.
    Photo By Veer
  • Legumes are a good source of lean protein, which can make us feel full for longer, help build muscle and has a high thermic effect.
    Photo Courtesy Shutterstock
  • Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. Eating a high-quality breakfast will kick-start your metabolism after it slows down for sleep and will help prevent crashes and cravings later in the day.
    Photo By Veer
  • A weekly exercise routine combining aerobic exercise and strength training will help burn calories and build muscle-both important to keeping our metabolisms running efficiently.
    Photo By Veer

It’s easy to get into a health rut in winter. With holiday indulgences and fewer opportunities for outdoor activity, many of us add losing a few pounds to our lists of New Year’s resolutions. But winter doesn’t have to be a time of sluggishness and weight gain. By paying attention to our metabolism and the foods, herbs and lifestyle choices that affect it, we can keep our health and energy high through every season. Using a combination of the right diet and herbs, smart habits and exercise, we can invigorate our metabolisms and improve our health.  

The 3 Components of Metabolism

The metabolism is our bodies’ natural process of converting what we eat and drink into energy—either to be burned right away or stored as fat. In general, the higher our metabolisms, the more calories we burn and the less fat we store. Three key components determine how many calories our bodies burn each day: our basal metabolic rate (BMR), the thermic effect of food and our physical activity level. 

The basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is the measure of the number of calories our bodies use for basic functions such as breathing, circulating blood and repairing cells. It accounts for about 60 to 75 percent of the calories we burn on a daily basis and is influenced by a wide range of factors including body size and composition, gender and age. While we can’t change some of these variables, we can increase our BMRs through building and maintaining muscle tone. The more muscle our bodies have, the more calories we burn—even when we’re inactive. 

The thermic effect of food, or thermogenesis, refers to the increase in metabolic rate caused by digesting, absorbing, transporting and storing food. It accounts for about 10 percent of the calories we burn each day, but maintaining the right combination of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats (as well as avoiding processed foods and eating on a regular schedule, as we’ll discuss later) can optimize the process and help manage weight.  

Our daily physical activity—including aerobic exercise and weight training, as well as everyday movements such as running errands or doing chores—account for the rest of our daily calorie expenditure. Physical activity is the most variable and controllable component of metabolism. The more active you are, the more calories you burn. 

Good Fuel: Metabolism-Boosting Foods

Some people go to great extremes to lose weight, eliminating entire food groups, eating large quantities of certain foods (grapefruit diet, anyone?) or drastically cutting calories. But extreme dieting can actually send signals to the body to go into “starvation mode,” making it more likely to burn muscle rather than fat for the protein it needs for daily functions. Reduced lean muscle mass, in turn, reduces your BMR, making it more difficult to lose weight. To keep our metabolisms humming, experts recommend women never dip below 1,200 calories a day. 

Vicky Myers
10/24/2014 10:51:18 PM

Remember that high fructose corn syrup is made with GMOed corn too. YUCK!

11/6/2012 10:29:54 PM

The only way to boost or increase metabolism is to increase the number of mitochondria an/or increase the size of the mitochondria. By increasing mitochondria, you increase the metabolic requirements (Caloric requirement or BMR) of the body . Activity or Exercise, a combination of both anaerobic (muscle building) & aerobic (cardio) activity, are the only scientifically proven method for increasing mitochondria metabolism. There are no special foods, spice, drink or pill that can effectively increase the rate as to which mitochondria metabolizes food for energy - so the article is slightly misleading in that respect. yes there are high fiber foods (califlower, broccoli, etc...) that actually require more energy (calories) to digest than they provide which causes a caloric deficit, this should not be considered a a method to "Boost" metabolism, at least in the clinical sense. Even then, the thermal effect is at best 10% as stated in the article - at least not nearly enough to rely on for effective and/or pernament fat reduction. Thai people are not skinny because they eat alot of "Spicy" food, they are skinny because walking is their main method of transportation. I could eat spicy food every day and still be clinically obese. The moral of my rant, is simply...Be more active!. Don't rely on theory or clever marketing. There will never be a miracle pill or food, the biology won't allow it, at least not without effecting something else in a negative way (side effects). Good article though.

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