It is a fact of life that once we hit our 30’s, exercise far less than we need and gain weight over time that our metabolic function starts to decline. The issue with this is that as our cells become less efficient at burning calories, and as we lose muscle mass, we burn fewer and fewer calories. Unfortunately that also means we need less food, which as we know, is easier said than done. The good news is that we actually do have some control over our metabolic rate. While 75% of or metabolic rate is determined by genetic factors, this leaves 25% directly impacted by how and what we eat and how many calories we burn via activity. So, if you are over the age of 30, spend much of the day sitting and know that your weight has been gradually on the increase; it may be time to consider what steps you can take to give your metabolic rate a serious boost.
Change something, change everything
The body gets used to the same habits and routines very quickly and becomes more and more efficient at doing them, burning fewer calories over time as a result. This means that if you have followed the same diet and exercise regime for as long as you can remember, it is time for a change, and the more you mix things up, the better both for your diet and your exercise program. For example, try different types of exercise, and mix up the times of day you are training and change the way you eat including the size of meals and the times you have them. Such change constantly challenges the body, forcing it to work harder and burn more calories as a result.
Pay attention to your hunger
Hunger is a sign that your body is burning your food efficiently. If you are not feeling hungry every 3-4 hours, or are feeling hungry too frequently, your meal balance is not working to support optimal metabolic function. If hunger is lacking you can try eating larger meals less frequently so you definitely experience hunger, or if your meals are large, it may be a sign to cut back with your portions. The key thing to remember is that regular hunger is a sign you are burning your food well as embrace it rather than avoid it by eating too much or too little.
Time to lift baby
If you are serious about getting your metabolism going you need to include some type of resistance training at least a couple of times each week. This does not mean you need to lift weights like a body builder, but it does mean including some type of training that incorporates resistance via weights or body weight to place load on the muscle cells. The more muscle cells you have and the harder they work, the more calories you will burn and the more efficient your metabolism will get. If you are not familiar with weights, see a trainer to help write you a program or look for various classes held at all popular gyms that incorporate weights into their supervised classes.
When it comes to training, efficiency is the key. It is better metabolically to train harder for shorter periods of time than it is to training with less intensity for longer. For example running for 20 minutes versus walking for an hour. It is also much better to use as many of your different muscles as you can, which is why running is such a good workout compared to sitting down and riding an exercise bike. Jumping, running, push-ups, any activity that uses a number of large muscles groups is going to be of the most benefit for those wanting to target their metabolic rate.
Not sure what to eat when it comes to your training? Susie shares the best foods to eat for training here.
Get your snacks right
When it was reported that eating regularly was the best way to boost metabolism, the part we forgot was to clarify that eating regularly meant eating small meals regularly. A small meal = 100-200 calories, a small mix of carbs and proteins to give us an extra calorie burn that actually comes from eating. Unfortunately, what we tend to see in real life is 300-400 calorie snacks which much more carbohydrate than protein. So if you do prefer to eat several times a day, check the calories of your favourite snacks and if you are having 6 meals rather than 3 meals and 3 small snacks, that could be where you are going wrong.
For a nutritious and filling snack you can whip up at home, try our Chocolate Protein Muffins. Get the recipe here.
Include more protein
As a nutrient protein requires slightly more calories to digest than carbohydrate or fat does and for this reason adding a rich protein sources such as low fat dairy, lean meat or fish, nuts, soy or eggs to each of your meals or snacks will also help burn some extra calories over the course of the day. Aim for 20-30g of total protein at each meal and at least 5-10g per snack to reap the metabolic benefits protein rich foods offer.
Beef/pork/lamb (per 100 grams) – 30
Chicken/turkey (per 100 grams) – 28
Seafood (per 100 grams) – 23
Milk (per 250 ml glass) – 9
Cheese (per 1 slice) – 5
Yoghurt (per 200 gram tub) – 10
Rice (per 1 cup cooked) – 5
Pasta (per 1 cup cooked) – 8
Egg (per 1-cooked) – 7
Tofu (per 100 grams) – 8
Baked beans (per 1 cup) – 10
Nuts (per 50 grams) – 10