A sluggish metabolism is a common complaint among women, but there are ways to give your metabolic rate a boost without having to resort to drastic measures. By Lila Bruk
1. Drink water
Yes, you’ve probably heard this one before, but drinking more of the translucent stuff is definitely worth your while. The reasons for this are two-fold.
Firstly, water is essential for many of the metabolic processes that take place within the body, so it therefore makes sense that if you don’t drink enough, your metabolism cannot function optimally.
Secondly, often one mistakes thirst for hunger, leading to one eating when actually your body is craving hydration. Therefore by drinking enough water you’re also preventing yourself from overeating. So try and drink at least 2 to 2.5l of water a day.
2. Eat approximately six small meals a day
Keeping your meals small and frequent is essential for a revved metabolism. Many people skip meals as a weight-loss strategy, figuring the less food they eat, the more weight they’ll lose. This is, however, not the case.
By skipping meals, it causes your body to go for long stretches without food. This is turn results in your body going into starvation mode. In other words, your body is not able to rely on a constant food source, and therefore it needs to conserve energy and store any food it does get. The result is a decrease in metabolism and an increase in fat storage.
Therefore, by having small regular meals that are well-balanced in protein, slow-release carbohydrates, and small quantities of healthy fats, you can be assured that your metabolism will be constantly fuelled.
Small regular meals will also keep your energy levels up throughout the day, which in turn will enable you to perform at your peak in your post-work workout.
3. Increase your physical activity
High physical activity levels are an invaluable component of getting your metabolism going. Even if you already diligently follow a formal exercise program, it is not good enough to sit at a desk the entire day, go to gym for an hour and then sit in front of the TV for the rest of the evening.
Increasing physical activity means adding more movement to your entire day. For example, do calf raises while brushing your teeth, take the stairs not the lift, do bicep curls with 1.5l bottles of water while watching TV, tap your foot while at your desk, or bounce around to the radio during rush-hour traffic.
Warning: observers may think you’re off your rocker, but at least you know you’re giving your metabolism a boost!
4. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables
You have already had to begrudgingly admit that your mother was right about yellow making you look sickly, your last boyfriend being hopelessly wrong for you and eating undercooked chicken giving you food poisoning.
Unfortunately, there’s yet another thing she was right about: You have to eat your vegetables. You most likely are already aware that fruits and vegetables are the ideal low-calorie food – they’re virtually fat-free and high in fibre.
Very importantly however, fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals, which your metabolism needs to function properly. It therefore goes without saying that if you don’t get enough of these nutrients, your metabolism will be affected. If you’re not a fruit and veggie fan, there are many easy ways to add them to your diet without you even noticing.
Fruit: Most fruit is quite portable and therefore makes the ideal snack. You can also chop up fruit and add it to your breakfast cereal, or throw some fruit and yogurt into the blender for a quick nutrient-rich smoothie.
Vegetables: In the cold winter months, there is nothing better than a warm, wholesome vegetable soup. Experiment with different vegetables to find the combinations of veggies you prefer. Stir-fries are a great, quick way to get in your vegetables. Also, try cut-up raw vegetables as crudités and some fat-free cottage cheese as a dip. Then of course there’s always the good ol’ faithful salads, which you can spice up by adding different vegetables and proteins. For example, try a grilled fresh tuna salad, or a chickpea and feta salad.
5. Don’t be afraid to build muscle
Many women shy away from weight-training as they are afraid of building big bulky muscles. However, women are not hormonally-wired to build muscle in this way.
Testosterone is responsible for this kind of muscle development, and women do not have significant amounts of this hormone, which would precipitate excessive muscle development. Rather, weight-training will help to increase your muscle mass resulting in a more lean, toned, defined appearance.
Also, muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue, so it burns more calories even at rest. Therefore, building muscle will in turn boost your metabolism.
By following the above tips, you’ll find your metabolism is boosted, your energy levels are upped, leaving those with their “sluggish” metabolisms behind in your dust!
Lila Bruk is a registered dietician, nutritional consultant and freelance health journalist.
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