Introducing light habits into our routines has important effects on our health.
Physical exercise has many benefits. On a psychological level it helps you feel better because it releases endorphins, relieves tension, reduces stress and helps you sleep better. It is also a very healthy alternative and an option that we should all do.
However, many people, in addition to wanting a healthy life, aim to improve their figure. Although one should not be obsessed with physical exercise, who does not like to look good?
Boosting metabolism, the key to weight loss
Exercise is key to burn calories, but so is nutrition and psychological aspects. Did you know that one of the keys to weight loss is to increase our metabolism to burn more calories?
If you have passed the age of 30, you will have noticed that with age it is increasingly difficult to burn those extra “kilos”. This is because the metabolism slows down over the years, something completely natural and biological.
However, our habits and the way we eat or train also have a positive or negative effect on the acceleration of our metabolism. That is why it is necessary that you know some keys if your goal is to reduce your body fat percentage.
How to increase metabolism
But what are these keys and how can you increase your metabolism? Below you can find a series of behaviors and habits that will help you.
1. Don’t forget breakfast
Some people decide not to eat breakfast or to eat little breakfast thinking that this way they will lose weight. This behavior is totally wrong, since breakfast is possibly the most important meal of the day.
Research has shown that people who eat a good breakfast burn more calories during the day. According to Barbara Rolls, professor of nutrition at Penn State University and author of The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan, “Our bodies slow down while we sleep, and they don’t pick up again until we eat something. To increase metabolism, eating a breakfast of 300 to 400 calories is enough.
2. Do weights
There are individuals who believe that the ideal way to lose weight is to do cardio, so they omit weight training. This is a mistake, because weight training accelerates the metabolism.
This acceleration of the metabolism not only occurs at the end of the session, but, by creating muscle, it increases the basal metabolism, which is the energy expenditure that our body carries out when we are at rest. If you don’t know much about nutrition or sports training, you may be wondering, what does this basal metabolism mean? Very simple, the muscle makes you burn more calories even when you are resting and not doing physical activity.
3. Do sprints
Physical exercise is a good alternative to increase basal metabolism. As we said in the previous point, many individuals think that simply running will burn more fat. While it is true that when we practice running at a moderate intensity for a long time we will burn more fat, with interval training we burn more calories.
To increase basal metabolism you can try intervals, with short periods of time in which you do sprints (around 80-90% of your maximum heart rate). The ideal is to run at a low to moderate intensity (50-60% of maximum heart rate) for 2 minutes and then do 30 seconds of sprints. This sequence can be done about 10 to 15 times (although you should always adapt it to your fitness level). This will create an imbalance in your body that will allow you to burn more calories during the next 24 hours, even if you are resting.
4. Train on an empty stomach
It is true that I have mentioned that it is necessary to eat breakfast, because, after the hours of sleep, until you do not eat food your metabolism is not activated again. However, it is possible to train on an empty stomach so that the metabolism is activated and the fat burning process is accelerated.
The purpose of training on an empty stomach is to reduce glucose or glycogen stores in order to switch to fat burning during exercise. If you opt for this option, you should be well hydrated and eat after training, otherwise you may end up very tired during the day.
5. Take care of fat
Fat is essential for the body, so you should consume it in moderation. According to research by Italian scientists published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, more calories are burned by eating foods low in fat.
Foods rich in fat have more calories, and other macronutrients such as carbohydrates produce greater thermogenesis, that is, they use more calories to burn food. Specifically, the thermogenesis of fats is 3%, while that of carbohydrates is 7%.
6. Eat protein
The king of thermogenesis is protein. While I said in the previous point that the thermogenesis of fats is 3% and that of carbohydrates is 7%, that of proteins is 27%. It is clear that protein consumption helps to increase metabolism.
In addition, proteins contribute to muscle formation, so you will increase your basal metabolism if you combine it with some physical exercise strategies, for example, weight training.
7. Consume Omega 3
If you are going to consume fats, make sure they are healthy, that is, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated (if you do not know how to differentiate these types of fats, you can read our article: “Types of fats (good and bad) and their functions”). One type of fat that is going to benefit you in terms of speeding up metabolism is omega-3 fatty acids. This is why nutrition experts recommend eating fish.
Salmon, mackerel or herring are good choices. A study by Obesity Research showed that if we train, a good dose of fish oil helps burn fat more effectivel
8. Eat several times a day
Some individuals have the belief that by eating much less they will lose many more calories. It is true that if we eat less than we spend we will be able to lose weight, but it is not enough to stop eating or eat very little.
On the one hand, when we eat we increase the thermic effect and the basal metabolism by 8% and 16% during the two or three hours after the meal. Therefore, it is ideal to eat several times a day (experts recommend five). Also, if you are one of those people who exercise regularly, you will have to eat in order to train and have optimal energy levels.
Our body is intelligent, and if the body notices that you are not eating enough, it goes into protection mode (because it thinks you are in a dangerous situation where you cannot feed yourself), so your metabolism slows down and economizes caloric expenditure.
9. Increase your NEAT
If we want to increase metabolism we must have an active lifestyle. This does not only include physical exercise, as this only accounts for 15-30% of total caloric expenditure. The thermogenesis mentioned in the previous lines represents 10-15% of the total caloric expenditure and the basal metabolism 50-70%.
One of the best strategies to increase metabolism is through what is known as NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis), which are the daily activities we perform that are associated with calories burned. For example, climbing stairs, household activities or walking to work will help you increase your NEAT and, consequently, your metabolism.
10. Surprise your body
The human body has a great capacity for adaptation. That is why, when we do physical exercise, we should increase our intensity or training volume progressively. After a few weeks, the same workout is no longer as effective. To avoid this, you can modify your workouts and do things that are difficult for you and surprise your body, for example, changes in speed, pace, duration or loads.
11. Control carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are an excellent source of energy, and although they have a bad reputation, it is not necessary to eliminate them from your diet. You just need to know how to eat them.
To do this you should eat complex carbohydrates, which are those that contain a low glycemic index, that is, they keep insulin levels at bay, are transformed into glucose in a longer time than what is known as simple carbohydrates and produce a progressive and slow release of energy. Foods that contain complex carbohydrates are: brown rice, most fruits and vegetables or whole wheat pasta, among others.
12. Drink green tea
Green tea has great health benefits and is rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols. New research shows that catechin, a substance found in this infusion, can increase metabolism. Data from this study suggest that the subjects in their experiment who drank green tea lost more weight than those who did not.
The researchers conclude that catechins may enhance fat oxidation and thermogenesis. Five cups of green tea a day can produce a caloric expenditure of 90 calories a day.
13. Go organic
Organic foods are healthier and, at the same time, also speed up metabolism. One study has found that fruits, vegetables and grains grown without pesticides speed up metabolism and help burn more fat because they don’t expose the thyroid to toxins.
“Non-organic produce blocks metabolism primarily by interfering with the thyroid, which is your body’s thermostat and influences metabolism,” explains Hyman, director of the research.
14. Leave alcohol aside
Do you like to have your glass of wine with your meal? Well, if you don’t want to slow down your metabolism, you’d better eliminate this habit from your life.
In addition to slowing down your metabolism, several studies have shown that having a drink before a meal causes people to eat about 200 calories more. Another study has found that the body burns alcohol first, which means that the calories from the meal are more likely to be stored as fat.
15. Eat Spicy
Adding spice to your food speeds up your metabolism noticeably. At least that is what a research paper from Pennsylvania State University in the United States concludes. According to their study, eating spicy food increases the body’s metabolic rate by up to 20% for half an hour. If you want to burn more fat, switch to spicy food.