Metabolism: we all want to know what to do to speed it up. We’re told it’s the secret key to weight loss, everlasting energy, and feeling vibrant as we age. Some people have high metabolisms effortlessly (we tend to like those people a little less?). Some people have to work for it… well, most people. Here are 2 of the top 5 tips I teach in my nutrition talk to boost a sluggish metabolism.
But first, what is metabolism?
All of the chemical processes that go on inside of your body to keep you alive. The balance of breaking down food for energy and storing that energy for later use.
While the food and drink we consume are huge players in our metabolic health, there’s more to that picture. Here are two non-food specific areas you can start working on today to get closer to a more energetic and healthier you.
#1 Get some muscle!
- More muscle = higher metabolism
- Higher metabolism = higher calorie burn and more energy
- Muscle mass declines by 5-10% each decade after the age of 30. Whoa, right? That happens for namely two reasons: 1) Sex hormones decrease and change, causing less skeletal muscle, more in women than men (sorry ladies!) and 2) people become more sedentary as they age, so they naturally lose muscle by way of lack of activity.
You will not have the metabolism of a 20 year old forever. We have to keep moving. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes, 2-3x per week of strength training. Strength training can be: squats, lunges, core work, kettle bell exercises, resistance bands, dumb bells, and free weights.
#2 Get regular, good quality sleep.
- People who are sleep deprived crave more carbs. Excess carbs is a fast and sure path to gaining weight, increasing inflammation, and disease.
- Too little sleep elevates stress hormones and impacts thyroid hormones, which can cause us to hold onto and gain weight.
- Proper sleep helps balance appetite-regulating hormones, like leptin which reduces appetite and provides energy; and ghrelin, which triggers hunger.
For some, sleep comes easy. For many, it doesn’t. It takes some intentional work to help the body find that natural rhythm and much needed healing time. It may be challenging because of a tough work schedule or the sleepless nights that usually comes with a newborn baby, but if consistent sleep is not happening, try a few of these tips to get you one step closer to a happy metabolism.
Healthy Sleep Habits
- Get ~7 hours per night (listen to your own body)
- Get to bed before 11PM, preferably 10PM. Essentially, stay on a schedule; our bodies need consistency and rhythm
- Put the electronic devices down, 1-2 hours before bedtime
- If you can, invest in a quality mattress
- Sleep in a cool, dark room (between 60-68°F)
- Don’t drink caffeine or eat sugary/carby foods before bed
- Make your room a peaceful, comfortable, and restful place, whatever that is to you
If having a high functioning metabolism sounds good to you, these two tips are a fantastic place to start.
P.s. As you might guess, the benefits of strong muscles and quality sleep expand well beyond metabolism! You really can’t lose.
Linus Pauling Institute Blog: Spending time with circadian rhythms