When it comes to weight loss, metabolism is portrayed as a magic wand. If you have a good metabolism, you can lose weight faster as compared to those who struggle with sluggish metabolism and as a result, find it difficult to lose weight. Metabolism, however, goes beyond mere weight loss. It is partly genetic and largely outside one’s control. One way to understand metabolism and how it works is to look at it as a car engine, which is working round the clock. You may be sleeping, standing, or sitting but your engine is halting like a car at a stoplight. The car is burning a certain amount of energy to keep the engine running. So metabolism as an engine burns calories to produce the energy required for our day-to-day activities. Thus, scientifically speaking, the term metabolism refers to all the chemical reactions that take place within each cell to provide fuel for vital processes in the body.
When we talk about metabolism vis-à-vis weight loss, there are two more terms – Metabolic Rate and Basal Metabolic Rate – that are thrown around commonly in the dieting circles. While Metabolic Rate is the speed of metabolism, “basal” metabolic rate (BMR) measures how many calories you burn for basic functions at rest. There are three main ways your body burn calories to produce energy each day – 1. The basal metabolism (energy used for the body’s basic functioning while at rest); 2. The energy used to break down food (also known as thermal effect of food); and 3. The energy used while doing strenuous physical activities. Basal metabolic rate is often used interchangeably with resting metabolic rate (RMR). You will be surprised to know that your resting metabolism accounts for a huge amount of the total calories that you burn each day! Food digestion and physical activity do the remaining energy expenditure. This brings us to the point that along with exercising, you need to work on your metabolism too in order to lose weight.
Since no two people have the same metabolic rate, their weight loss journeys also tend to be different. And this is why one person may be able to lose weight faster than the other. But all is not lost if you aren’t blessed with a healthy metabolism. You can surely work on it and boost its performance. In fact, boosting metabolism can have a positive impact on your overall health, besides achieving the desired weight loss. One of the easiest ways to build a strong metabolism is strength training. The better the muscle mass, the faster the resting metabolic rate (RMR). When it comes to strengthening metabolism, your habits play a vital role. So to say, habits can make or break it. Let’s look at the Worst habits that slow down your metabolism and the good habits you must replace them with to boost your metabolism. Let’s unlock your metabolism…
Bad Habit #5: Crash diets or Calorie Restricted diets
Crash diets are like empty promises. You may experience a temporary weight loss but this comes with a heavy price. Devoid of essential nutrients, crash diets put your body under tremendous stress and also weaken the immune system. The rapid weight loss can slow your metabolism and often leads to future weight gain.
Good Habit: It is important not to skip carbohydrates, proteins, and fats because your body needs all these nutrients for its vital processes. Protein in every snack and meal is required as it has the highest thermic effect of food on the body. What is thermic effect? It is the energy required for digestion absorption and disposal of ingested nutrients.
How to do it: A2 Milk, dals, eggs, amaranth, ragi, quinoa, soybean, paneer, peanuts, nuts.
Bad Habit #4: When you only do cardio!
Cardio-only movements mean you are missing out on your body’s other muscular needs. What about muscle mass, which works wonders in boosting metabolism? You can’t build muscles with only cardio.
Good Habit: Strength Training improves your resting metabolic rate (RMR). The leans muscle that you build with strength training helps burn calories even when you are doing nothing.
How to do it: Strength training at least 2 days a week
Bad Habit #3: You sit more and move less.
What does the screen make you do? It makes you sit in one place for long periods. Sitting has been linked to lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Good Habit: Standing helps to improve metabolism, and keeps you active too. It boosts non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), which refers to calories we burn by simple movements or daily activities.
How to do it: From fetching your water to walking while talking on the phone, get your body moving as much as you can.
Bad Habit #2: You underestimate the power of good sleep.
Sleep deprivation not just throws your hunger and appetite hormones out of whack, but also make your metabolism sluggish by directly impacting your hormones. While Ghrelin (hunger hormone) increases, Leptin (fullness hormone) decreases when you are sleep deprived. It also makes you insulin-sensitive.
Good Habit: Make sure you invest in a healthy sleep cycle, which in turn helps maintain your body’s circadian rhythm. Besides clocking 7-8 hours of sleep, you must also fix your sleep and wake-up timings.
How to do it: Before bedtime – Do some light stretching, 5 minutes of meditation/chant, sip chamomile tea, take melatonin supplement or have a cup of warm turmeric milk.
Bad Habit #5: You skip on water.
Dehydration slows down your metabolism and as a result, your body is unable to burn calories and turn fat into energy. Final outcome: weight gain. Also, you tend to feel twice as hungry than normal when you are dehydrated.
Good Habit: Water helps the body burn calories. Studies have shown that drinking just 2 cups of water before a meal increases your metabolic rate by 20-30 percent. Drinking enough water also increases resting metabolism by 10-20 percent.
How to do it: It’s great if you can guzzle bottles of plain water but if you can’t, then you can try infused water. Add lemon juice or a pinch of cinnamon to plain water. You can also vegetable juice or soup to increase your water intake.
4 HERBS THAT BOOST METABOLISM
1. Moringa Powder
It offers a healthy concoction of vitamins, minerals, and fibers present in moringa helps to stimulate metabolism and as a result, the body burns calories faster.
2. Aloe Vera
Known for its fat-burning abilities, aloe vera is loaded with vitamin B that helps converts the fat stored in the body into energy as well as speed up metabolism.
It is the main active ingredient present in turmeric, which can boost your metabolism for hours after you have finished a meal. Take it with a pinch of black pepper for better absorption.
Anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants, cinnamon is said to increase insulin sensitivity and decrease blood sugar. It boosts metabolism because the body uses more energy to process the spice than it does from other foods.
How it feels to have a good metabolism…
1. BMI is in the normal range.
2. Sleep is good.
3. No gut issues.
4. No brain fog and fresh feeling on waking up.
5. No Chronic stress.
6. Lesser risk of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), hypertension and obesity.