I am constantly meeting people that are struggling to lose those last few pounds (especially around the midsection), despite eating healthy and working out. Last week I talked about how it's key to have certain hormones at optimal levels in order to assist your weight loss. Today I want to talk about your METABOLISM, and how your diet and lifestyle choices can either boost or slow down your metabolism. Because ultimately, a strong metabolism helps you to burn more calories, balance blood sugar and regulate hormones, all of which affect your weight (and overall health!).
Even though there are some uncontrollable factors - like age and certain diseases - that do affect our metabolism, there is still a lot we can do to boost our metabolism - at any age. It’s all about feeding the mitochondria in our cells, which are what burn calories and drive our metabolism.
Here are 10 things you can do now to support your mitochondria and boost your metabolism:
1. Don't skip breakfast. Eating a healthy, balanced breakfast everyday, that includes protein (preferably vegetarian) and healthy fats is the best way to jump-start your metabolism each day. Eggs with veggies, oats with flax and chia seeds, or green smoothies with vegan protein (such as spirulina, pea and hemp) are some of my favorites.
2. Do strength training. Many people only focus on “cardio” to lose weight, but strength training (even light weights) will increase your mitochondria and build muscle, which helps you burn more calories both during and after your workout. Also, try incorporating some interval training into your workout routine, as studies show that interval training will improve the functioning of your mitochondria.
3. Sleep and de-stress. Get 8 hours of sleep, find time to relax every day, and work on stress-reduction. Stress and lack of sleep can lead to inflammation, hinder your immune system, offset your hormones, and negatively impact your metabolism.
4. Eat lots of healthy fats (raw nuts, seeds, avocados, wild fatty fish, organic eggs, olive oil), especially those with medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) like coconut oil. These fats are the best fuel for your mitochondria! Make sure to avoid UNHEALTHY fats such as GMO oils (ex. canola oil) and hydrogenated oils that are common in processed foods.
5. Include protein at each meal. Eating balanced meals with some protein is KEY to boosting your metabolism. Protein is essential for building muscle and keeps your body from storing excess fat.
6. Eat a wide variety of antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits; the more, the better! These feed the metabolism-boosting mitochondria in your cells and reduce oxidative stress.
7. Cut back on caffeine and alcohol. These impact your cortisol and prevent a good night’s sleep, which is critical for a strong metabolism. If you must have your coffee or booze, having it with a meal helps lessen the effect on your body.
8. Avoid calorie restrictive diets. They put your body into starvation mode, i.e. “shut-down” mode, forcing your metabolism to slow down and causing your body to hold on to fat. Plus, they rob your body of necessary micro-nutrients that are key for creating balanced, metabolism-boosting hormones! Instead, try one of my seasonal food-based detoxes that will actually BOOST your metabolism!
9. Avoid sugary foods and refined flours. High-sugar/high-carb foods put stress on your mitochondria, not to mention they wreak havoc on your hormones and lead to inflammation. Instead, focus on unprocessed, fat-burning carbs with fiber, such as quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat and sweet potatoes.
10. Supplement. Try certain metabolism-boosting supplements, such as B-complex vitamins, omega-3/fish oil, green tea, ginseng, CoQ10, carnitine/acetyl l-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid.
So yes, you may be eating healthy, but ask yourself - what small tweaks can you make to your day-to-day? Are you eating a fiber-rich breakfast, are you including protein at each meal, are you eating a wide variety of fruits and veggies every day, are you switching up your workouts to include strength and/or interval training, are you avoiding sugar, sleeping properly...? All these things may seem small but they will make a difference!
Have you found anything else that has helped you boost your metabolism? Please comment, share you thoughts, and if you liked this article, please share on social media!