Have you ever wondered why some lucky people can eat anything they want to without adding an inch or why you never put on weight in college despite snacking on nothing but junk food? The answer lies in the difference in your body’s ability to process the food you put into it or what is called `metabolism’. Metabolism is defined as the sum total of the physical and chemical changes that take place inside cells by which the body obtains and uses food. Not only does the metabolic rate differ from person to person, it also changes during a person’s lifespan and is dependent on factors like age, stress, lifestyle among others. So how does one keep one’s metabolism running at optimum capacity?
While genetics plays a role, as in everything else, there are some very simple yet effective things that you can do to burn those calories faster and keep your metabolism fighting fit.
1. Divide Your Total Calorie Intake Over 6-8 Small Meals instead of 3 large ones. Every time you eat, your body expends energy i.e. burns calories, in metabolizing the food. This keeps the body active and keeps the metabolic rate high. In fact when you starve for long periods, the body actually conserves calories by slowing down its metabolism which is why most diets are counterproductive.
2. Consume Moderate Amounts Of Caffeine: Tests show that ingesting moderate amounts of caffeine has a beneficial effect on metabolism. Try getting your caffeine fix from green tea rather than regular tea and coffee since it boosts the immune system and has anti ageing properties. Try not to have caffeine before you go to sleep since that will interfere with the quality of your sleep and also affect your body’s metabolism.
3. Include Weight Training In Your Exercise Program: Lean muscle burns more calories than fat even when sedentary so incorporating weight training makes your body a more efficient fuel burning machine. Muscle continues to give you a faster burn rate even if you stop exercising as against cardio so the benefits are more long term. Also short bursts of intense cardio activity are seen to be more beneficial than one continuous stretch for the same total period since it keeps the metabolic rate higher for longer.
4. Eat Your Breakfast: Breakfast or literally `breaking your fast’ after the night’s meal helps the body kick start from the sleep mode that it is in and returns your body to a more active state. Not eating or saving on these calories keeps the metabolism low and you end up absorbing all the calories of the heavy lunch that you are going to end up eating since you will be famished by then.
5. 8 Hours Of Uninterrupted Sleep: Research shows that the metabolic rate rises in the REM cycles or deep sleep. Missing out on a night’s rest can again compromise the body’s ability to process foods and ultimately your overall fitness goals. So make sure you get enough shuteye.
Countering The Effects Of Age
As you grow older, there are natural changes that will occur that are outside your control — not only does muscle mass decrease, levels of activity also usually decline. It is important to make changes in your diet to compensate for the same to maintain your desired weight.
Alternatively one can step up exercising and fitness training. Maintaining or even increasing one’s metabolic rate is possible even with age but it requires a lot of motivation and determination on your part.
Last but not the least, these tips and facts may not hold true for people with specific conditions like hypothyroidism or those who are taking drugs that interfere with their body’s natural metabolic rate. In such cases it is best to seek your physician’s advice regarding weight loss and fitness.