A cheat sheet to boosting your metabolism
Do you remember when you were 18, and your grandma told you to enjoy all the chocolate in the world without having to burn it off because once you hit your 30's it would start to show on your waistline? Well as it turns out, grandma was right. As we age, our metabolic process tends to naturally slow down, meaning we need to work a little harder to burn through the calories consumed. In fact, most women gain an average of .6 kilograms per year after the age of 30 due to a change in their metabolic processes.
Now, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are some simple steps we can all take to speed up our metabolism – and keep the chocolate (in small doses that is).
In its simplest terms, metabolism is used to describe all the chemical reactions that help keep us alive. The speed at which your metabolism operates is influenced by four key factors, the first of which is your resting metabolic rate (RMR). These are the calories burnt while you are resting. Next in line is the thermic effect of food (TEF), which takes into account the number of calories spent while digesting the foods we consume. Given that this makes up around 10% of our daily calories burnt, it’s easy to see why food plays an essential role in keeping things moving. The second two categories include non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), which includes anything from cleaning the house to walking around your office. The final way in which we burn calories is exercise, but we know all about that, don’t we.
Why does our metabolism slow down?
Unless you fall into the 1% category of genetically blessed unicorns, once you hit your 30’s, your metabolism will naturally begin to slow down. However, contrary to popular belief, the ageing process is not the only culprit to blame for the diminishing number of calories we burn throughout the day, no sir. The culprit is also inactivity and a less than desirable diet to match.
As we age, we tend to be less active in our day-to-day activities. As many of us enter the workforce, we begin to lead more sedentary lives. According to some studies, 50% to 70% of Australia's working adults spend a minimum of 6 hours a day seated. When not stuck to an office chair, we are spending more and more time in our cars, on public transport seats or sitting on the couch after a long days work.
A 2015 study found that over six million men and women over the age of 15 led sedentary lives in Australia, meaning they spent less than 2.5 hours a week participating in a moderate level of activity such as walking.
On top of leading less active lives, we naturally lose muscle mass as we age. If not addressed through diet and exercise, most adults experiencing an average of 3 – 8 % loss of muscle mass during every decade after the age of 30. This is where strength training really comes into play, but we will get to that fun part in a moment.
It’s easy to see how then both inactivity and a natural loss of muscle mass plays a role in our slowing metabolism. There you go, we just ripped the ageing excuse form right underneath your feet! Now that we know what slows down our metabolism, here is how to fix it.
It starts with sleep
One of the most effective ways to boost your metabolism also happens to be the easiest. If you needed an excuse to hit the snooze button and catch a few extra minutes between the sheets, we’re about to hand it straight into your lap. Likened to nutrition for the brain, sleep plays a vital role in helping sustain a healthy weight. Studies have shown that consistently sleeping less than 7 hours a night is shown to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which sends signals to your body to store fat. It also inhibits your ability to make healthy food choices by increasing your sugar and starch cravings.
A lack of sleep is also directly linked to slowing down your metabolism by inhibiting your body’s ability to process insulin. As the hormone responsible for converting sugar, starches and other food into energy, a lack of insulin leads the body to store rather than metabolise food consumed. Research conducted by the University of Chicago has found that even four days of inadequate sleep can lower insulin sensitivity by as much as 30%. This means that the first step in boosting your metabolism means getting some early shut eye. Go on, you have permission for an early night tonight!
Fill up on protein
Did you know that you can boost your metabolism by eating? But before you get too excited, it doesn’t give you a free ticket to the chips isle. Eating food increases your metabolism through a process referred to as TEF, the thermic effect of food. This refers to the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process nutrients from the food you have consumed. But not all sources of food are made equal.
Protein causes the largest rise in TEF and increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%. In stark contrast, carbohydrates only raise your metabolic rate by 5-10%. Making sure you have an adequate intake of protein in your diet can help you burn by as many as 100 calories more throughout the day. Protein also helps maintain lean muscle mass, which we know it, vital to a healthy metabolism. This is because muscle burns more calories than fat.
Aside from helping you build muscle mass and burning through more calories, protein also helps promote satiety, stabilizes blood glucose levels and helps you feel fuller for longer. Add a protein shake into your meal repertoire and give your metabolism the deserving kick it needs. This can be done as a meal replacement or simply as a mid morning snack. Mixing a scoop of your favourite Happy Way protein flavour to 200ml of liquid of your choice is not only low in calories, but it will also satisfy your sugar cravings and will prevent your from snacking throughout the rest of the day.
Make sure you work fibre into your diet
Incorporating fibre-rich foods into your diet is a vital aspect of keeping your metabolism moving. While it may be tempting to cut carbohydrates out of your diet in a bid to manage your weight, it is essential to note that not all sources of carbohydrates are made equal. Whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables play a vital role in keeping everything moving as they are packed full of fibre. Protein shakes offer a simple way to add more fibre into your diet by adding fibre-rich ingredients such as apples, bananas, oranges, carrots and collard greens into the mix.
The Happy Way protein powder range contains psyllium husk as a staple ingredient in every flavour as an added superfood for healthy poop. As a high source of soluble fibre, the kind that cleanses out your insides, it contributes to a flatter tummy and faster metabolism.
Just an added reason to shake it up in the morning, ladies!
Spice it up
Now, this tip is not for the faint at heart. But if you love a good curie night, then you are well on your way to boosting your metabolism.
A study conducted by Purdue University found that as little as 1 gram of chillies and spice could affect your metabolic rate. This is because capsaicin, the chemical that gives chillies their pungency stimulates a natural process in the body, which automatically converts parts of your meal into heat. When you sprinkle chillies on top of your favourite protein source, the hot peppers help the body release more of certain hormones such as adrenalin. This, in turn, stimulates your metabolism and burns more calories. Add some spice into your meals and enjoy the added kick to your metabolism.
If you are feeling daring, add some Cajun spice into your smoothie mix!
Sip on green tea and coffee
The British may have been onto something when they made ‘high tea’ a regular past time because sipping on two to three cups of green tea can help you burn an extra 80 – 100 calories a day. Imagine that! Green tea contains catechins, an antioxidant that raises your resting metabolism. If that is not enough to convince you, green tea is packed full of antioxidants. Consuming it regularly has been linked to lowering the risk of certain cancers, heart disease and helping fight signs of ageing.
Time to get brewing!
Now, should we give you the even better news? Drinking coffee is also shown to help boost metabolism and help increase the body’s natural fat burning process. Some studies suggest that drinking 2 cups of coffee a day may help boost the body’s natural fat burning process by as much as 29% in women who sit within a healthy weight range. For those sitting in the overweight or obese category, drinking coffee is shown to boost metabolism by as much as 10%. As a central nervous stimulant, coffee can help you burn an extra 90 to 180 calories a day.
Start strength training
One of the reasons that our metabolism slows down as we age is due to the naturally occurring loss of muscle mass. This makes strength training an essential component of both maintaining muscle mass and keeping your metabolism up. According to the Journal of Applied Physiology, focusing on your strength training will not only help boost your muscle synthesis process but it will also help increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR). These are the calories burned while you are sitting stationary in your office chair. This process works in two ways.
Firstly, we know that muscle burns more calories than fat. Studies suggest that half a kilo of muscle mass burns around six calories a day. So the more muscle mass you build, the more calories your burn naturally. Furthermore, strength training helps burn more calories through a process known as the afterburn effect. This process looks at the calories and oxygen needed as energy to help your body recover following a workout. Some studies suggest that the afterburn experienced after strength training can burn an added 60 calories in the hours that follow, a significantly higher number than cardiovascular activity.
So what’s the best way of approaching your strength training? Start with compound movements, which attack more than one muscle group at a time. A squat is an excellent example of a compound exercise as it works the quadriceps, glutes and calves all at the same time. Also, remember that you don’t require a gym membership or fancy equipment to start your strength training. Read our beginner’s guide here.
Read our beginner’s guide here.
Drink chilled water and lots of it!
When it comes to drinking water, the benefits are copious. From helping you feel fuller for longer, to assisting your body in flushing out toxins, water is an essential aspect of everyday life. However, you can seriously help boost the benefits of water by consuming 500mls of chilled water a couple of times a day. Studies have shown that doing this can increase your resting metabolic rate by as much as 10-30% in the hour that follows. This is because your body uses more energy to heat the water to your natural body temperature.
And if you are really looking to maximise this…
Add a fat burner into the mix
Contrary to popular belief, fat burners are not only beneficial as a pre-workout supplement to help boost your endurance and performance. Formulated to boost your metabolism, fat burners have been shown to increase your metabolic rate by as much as 16% in the hour following consumption. This is because one of the key ingredients in fat burners is caffeine and green tea, and we know they work wonders in the calorie-burning department.
Swap out your morning coffee for a Happy Way Fat Burner in the morning to give your metabolism a real kick-start to the day. The bonus is that the Happy Way fat burner range is 100% natural and contains all three essential branched-chain amino acids BCAAs. This means that your morning drink will not only help you burn more calories, but it will also help promote your muscle synthesis and muscle mass.
Where do we sign up?
One of the easiest and most effective ways to boost your metabolism is also the one we dread the most but the truth is – you have to keep moving. Work on both your NEAT metabolism and exercise. Why not take the stairs instead of the lift to your office? Set a timer at your desk and go for a 5-minute walk around the office on the hour. We’re not here to make you feel bad, but at the HAPPY WAY office, we drop and do squats and sit-ups on the hour. It’s a fun way to keep us accountable to active. If morning gym sessions don’t sound like an achievable goal, make sure you go for a half an hour walk after work every night. This could be around your yard. Track your progress and make sure you are staying active for more than 2.5 hours a week.