Many factors affect your metabolic rate and you don’t have control over them all. Age, sex and hereditary factors are pretty much a done deal.
But all is not lost. How regularly you exercise and what proportion of your body is lean body mass as opposed to fat tissue also affect metabolism and are in your control.
Since metabolism is basically the rate at which we burn calories, which determines how quickly we gain weight and how easily we lose it, knowing how to boost your metabolism can be very useful in the battle against the bulge.
Early morning exercise can boost your metabolism from the get-go, creating an ‘after burn’ that keeps your metabolism higher throughout the day. Working out first thing also gets your heart and lungs pumping blood around the body, keeping your brain and body functioning at their best for whatever the day brings.
Immediately following your workout, a good healthy breakfast ensures your metabolism does not slow down and go into ‘storage mode’ for the rest of the day. So jump out of bed and into your workout gear to jump start your body before breakfast.
You know water is good for you, but did you also know water is needed to process calories and becoming dehydrated slows down your metabolism? A good goal is 2-3 litres per day, but so often it gets to late afternoon or evening and you realise you are falling quite a few hundred ml short of that optimum.
Exercising encourages you to drink more water as you become more aware of thirst and you have that funky water bottle you always take to the gym or your class – just remember to keep it on your desk too, because good hydration levels equal a higher metabolism.
Some research suggests that strength work has a greater effect on metabolism than aerobic exercise. A possible reason is weight training elevates hormones such as epinephrine that stimulate your metabolic rate. Another reason is it takes energy to repair the muscles that have been broken down during the resistance workout, so more calories are burned.
This is just one more compelling argument for women to add weight training to their weekly exercise routine. To ensure both types of workout are boosting your metabolism, up the anti on your aerobic workouts and make sure you are not just cruising.
It has long been argued that a change in body composition from fat to muscle allows you to burn more calories all the time – even at rest. This is because muscle is an active tissue needing approximately 6 calories per lb to sustain itself and fat is a passive tissue needing only approximately 2 calories per lb to sustain itself.
Although results are mixed about how much improvement there is, every little bit helps – right?! If adding resistance training means you burn a few more calories even when you are watching Netflix on the couch, it is worth it.
Far more important than temporary daily boosts or quick fixes, long-term fitness boosts your metabolism as you age. The reality is muscle declines with age and metabolism is quick to follow – this effect speeds up after the age of 40.
Exercise slows down and can even reverse this pattern. Here is more confirmation that exercising regularly long-term has the greatest benefits for our waistline and our health in general, so get moving and keep moving.
By Rachel Livingstone, Personal Trainer & Owner of The Health Hub
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