Most of us find ourselves struggling with weight loss and weight management. Therefore, it is important to understand what metabolism means and how it influences weight control.
Metabolism is a complex biochemical process during which your body extracts calories from the food consumed, combines it with oxygen and produces energy. This energy is then used by the body to sustain itself and carry out various functions like circulation of blood, breathing, food digestion, maintaining hormonal balance, growth and repair of cells. The rate at which the body converts calories into energy is known as the basal metabolic rate. Simply put, metabolism provides fuel for our body and its various functions. It also determines how efficiently the body utilizes the energy released.
The metabolic rate differs from person to person. Some of us manage to burn lesser calories as compared to others. A host of factors affect the metabolic rate. Those who are lean and have more muscles tend to have higher metabolism and end up burning more calories, even when at rest. Age and sex also play a vital role in determining your metabolic rate. Men are known to lose weight quicker as compared to women, due to lesser body fat and more muscles. As one gets older the body loses its flexibility, which makes it difficult to burn calories. On an average, a person's metabolism declines between 5% and 10% per decade.
How to boost your metabolism?
For those of you who have a sluggish metabolic rate, a slight change in your lifestyle can do wonders. It is seen that regular exercise builds up the basal metabolic rate. Walking and running can prove to be beneficial but there is nothing like strength training. As one loses fat and builds up lean muscles, metabolism gets a significant boost.
Here are some tips that you should keep in mind while working out else it may lead to lethargy and exhaustion -
• Ensure that your water intake is sufficient, our body runs primarily on the essential fluids and lack of it can cause grave repercussions.
• Keep a check on your Vitamin D levels. Lower levels of Vitamin D can make you lose weight at a slower rate and can trigger increased production of hormone ghrelin which usually propels frequent hunger pangs.
• Do not cut down on your caffeine intake completely. Coffee, tea or green tea can keep you attentive and alert through the day.
• Get enough sleep and try keeping stress at bay.
• Watch out for your daily calorie intake, eat less but at regular intervals and include a lot of protein. (More: Some fats increase metabolism)
What to eat?
Food can play a major role in boosting your metabolism, it revs up energy levels and helps to improve metabolic functions. Here's a checklist of certain foods that you should definitely sneak in your diet -
Vitamin-D enriched foods: A deficiency of vitamin D can slower your metabolism. Sunlight is the most important source of Vitamin D but since most of the time we don't enough of it, we should try and supplement our daily dose of Vitamin D by including foods like fish, eggs, tofu, soya milk and mushrooms. (More: 5 foods rich in vitamin-D)
Natural coolers: According to a latest study, staying cool and hydrated can assist in maintaining a high rate of metabolism. Balancing bodily fluids is very essential in maintaining a healthy metabolic rate hence natural coolers like melon and cucumber can help in keeping you cool.
Milk and yogurt: Milk is a rich source of calcium and some of the recent studies hold that regular calcium intake can help the body metabolize fat efficiently. Yogurt is well known for being rich in probiotics, the good bacteria that helps in digestion and keeps you cool. Cottage cheese is rich in protein and it can help you build, maintain and repair muscles.
Green tea and coffee: According to a study that was published in the American Journal ofClinical Nutrition, men who consumed a combination of caffeine and green tea extracts burned more calories. Green tea is rich in antioxidants like polyphenols which have numerous health benefits and also aid in weight loss. Caffeine helps in warding off lethargy and can even increase your endurance during workouts. Green tea also contains a plant compound called EGCG that helps in burning fat.
Green vegetables: Garden fresh vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, spinach and avocados are high in minerals, protein and iron content which provide you with truckloads of energy to fulfill your daily requirements and keep you going. (More: Go green to boost metabolism)
Fish: Oily fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids which can increase your metabolism significantly. Fish oil can increase the levels of fat burning enzymes in your body.
Lentils and Whole Grains: Lentils are a great source of proteins, carbohydrates and fiber that helps in good digestion. The iron content facilitates the flow of oxygen throughout the body which further helps in boosting metabolism and energy production. Also, include whole grains in your diet as they require extra energy to break down and digest and help in burning fat.
Nuts and Seeds: Dry fruits are a powerhouse of energy. Nuts like almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts and pistachios have numerous health advantages. Nuts are great sources of protein. Since protein has a high thermic effect your body will have to burn more fats to digest these. Seeds like sunflower seeds and flax seed also help in lifting your metabolism.