WHY do some people have more energy than others? WHY do we need to “boost” our metabolism? How do we know if our metabolism is “good” or “bad?
WHAT IS METABOLISM? Metabolism is a chemical process that occurs within an organism that helps it to maintain and sustain life. The word metabolism comes from the Greek: μεταβολή metabolē, which means”change” or Greek: μεταβολισμός metabolismos, “out-throw.” Metabolism is usually divided into two categories:
- Catabolism breaks down organic matter and collects energy using cellular respiration
- Anabolism utilizes energy to create components of cells such as proteins and nucleic acids.
The chemical reactions of metabolism are organized into metabolic pathways, in which one chemical is changed through a process of steps. This process is completed through the action of another chemical, by a sequence of enzymes.
WHY DOES METABOLIC RATE VARY? Every time we eat or drink, our metabolism converts all the calories from the food into energy. Our size, gender, and age play a large factor into determining our metabolic rate. For most people, metabolism seems to slow down after age 40. Men tend to have a higher metabolic rate than women. In addition to these factors, there are some things that we can do to independently control our rate of metabolism.
WHAT IS HYPOTHYROIDISM AND HYPERTHYROIDISM?
The faster our metabolism, the more calories we burn off. People with hypothyroidism have an under-active thyroid gland and have a metabolic rate that is slower. People who have hyperthyroidism have an overactive thyroid gland and have a metabolic rate that is faster. Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are not common. Only 3% of the population have hypothyroidism and about .3% of the population have hyperthyroidism.
FIFTEEN WAYS TO HELP US BURN OFF CALORIES AND INCREASE METABOLISM
- Drink plenty of water – In one study, adults who drank eight or more glasses of water a day burned more calories than those who drank four. To stay hydrated, drink a full glass of water before every meal and snack.
- Get plenty of sleep – Researchers have found a connection between lack of sleep and a lower metabolic rate. Those who get more sleep have a higher metabolic rate.
- Drink green tea – Green tea contains caffeine and catechin polyphenols, which increase thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is the process your body uses to burn energy. Green tea is high in antioxidants, calorie-free, and a compound in green tea (ECGC) has been shown to elevate metabolism. The metabolism increase lasts for about two hours. Research suggests that drinking two to four cups of either tea may allow the body to burn 17% more calories. Green tea is safe for most people, but some may not be able to add caffeine to their diet due to its effect on the heart. Caffeine can also cause insomnia. It is recommended that people consult a trusted health care professional, regarding the use of green tea, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
- Eat small healthy snacks frequently – Studies show that people who eat small, healthy snacks (such as fruit, nuts, etc.) every 3 or 4 hours, tend to burn more calories than those who eat three large meals a day.
- Add spices to your diet – Spices such as red peppers, jalapenos, chili peppers and Cayenne pepper contain capsaicin, and studies show it increases metabolism. In a small study on Japanese women published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found red pepper caused the body to heat up and increase the metabolism after a meal. Another study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, reported that male athletes who added red pepper to high-carbohydrate meals raised both their resting and active metabolic rates 30 minutes after the meal. However, there are no “fat-burning” foods, and there is no conclusive evidence regarding an increased metabolic rate significant enough to result in weight loss.
- Replace carbohydrates with proteins – The body burns more calories with protein than carbohydrates. Replace carbohydrates with healthy protein such as tuna, salmon, nuts, tofu, beans, and eggs. EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fatty acids found only in fish oil, may boost your metabolism — by about 400 calories per day, researchers from the University of Western Ontario report.
- Engage in muscle-building exercises – Every pound of muscle uses 6 calories per day. The more muscle, the higher the metabolic rate. Lift weights. Pump iron. Muscle burns 73 more calories per kilogram per day than fat. Every muscle cell that you gain constantly burns calories for you, even while you are resting or sleeping.
- Use short high-intensity intervals in workouts – Maximize the calories you burn by adding high-intensity intervals into your workout. If you work out for 20 minutes, try exercising moderately for about three minutes (running or riding a bike, for example) and then alternate three minutes with 30 seconds of an all-out effort. If you are walking steadily, add short bursts of jogging, for example.
- Increase your intake of high-fiber foods – Increasing intake of high-fiber foods like vegetables is one of the best ways to increase your metabolism, says Kristine Clark, PhD, RD, FACSM, assistant professor and director of sports nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. Vegetables are low in calories, yet high in nutrients.
- Keep moving – If you work at a desk, schedule breaks to allow yourself to walk, stand and move frequently. Most people over the age of 40 spend too much time sitting.
- Change the temperature. Studies show that people eat less when they are too cold or too hot. The body also stops generating heat and burning energy when it is comfortable or neutral. Allow your body to create its own heat and burn calories by keeping that heater turned down and not making things so cozy. Drinking ice water might burn more calories than room temperature water, because the body must work to heat up the water, says Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., founder and director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Weight Management Center.
- Engage in cardiovascular and/or aerobic exercise – Different activities burn different quantities of calories, but the important thing is to raise your heart rate and sustain the activity for approximately thirty minutes. Try running, biking or swimming. One study found that 45 minutes on the bike sped up metabolic rate for over 12 hours.
- Keep laughing! – Scientists have found that laughing for as much as 10 minutes per day, can burn energy and improve health. Laughter increases the metabolic rate. Maciej Buchowksi, lead professor of a research team at Vanderbilt University, and her team set out to determine the effects of laughing on caloric burn. This heat output could then be translated as an increase in metabolism. After the research study was completed, the team discovered that metabolic rates could be increased by 10 to 40 calories by laughing.
- Increase your iron intake – Iron helps carry oxygen to your muscles. If you test anemic or your muscles don’t get enough O2, your energy is low and and your metabolism is slow. Eat iron-fortified cereals, beans, raisins, and dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, bok choy, and broccoli.
- Incorporate stretching exercises into your routine – Is stretching important? When subjects did different dynamic stretching exercises before running, they increased their caloric burn significantly compared with those that did nothing before the exercising. Those who did the stretching routines increased their average oxygen consumption and flexibility, according to an article published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
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This article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.
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