How many of us have heard someone say they have an extremely fast metabolism and they are able to eat whatever they want, whenever they want? Meanwhile, some of you reading this might be saying all you have to do is think about food and you’ll gain weight. You won’t say it out loud, but in your head you are saying some not so nice things about that person. It seems society plays on this thought that our metabolism is the defining piece of the equation when it comes to how fat or thin we are. So the question arises, can our metabolism actually be controlled?
What exactly is a metabolism?
One researcher put it best when they said, “Your metabolism is kind of like the engine that keeps your body going. It’s the drive that allows your body to utilize the food and nutrients you put into it.” Think of a coal train for instance. When you add coal, the engine keeps moving, the less coal you add, it starts to slow down. When you stop adding coal to it all together, you eventually come to a complete stop.
Your personal lifestyle and genetics do come into play with how fast or slow your metabolism is. There is no down time for your metabolism as it is running non-stop, including when you are asleep. It’s extremely important to do everything possible to keep the train (your metabolism) moving down the track at a fast pace.
Is it possible to improve a jacked up metabolism?
There is no quick-fix when it comes to changing your metabolism. Your genetics set your metabolism base speed and then factor in your lifestyle and you could be royally screwed, somewhere in the middle, or revving at the speed of light. Regardless, it’s long-term lifestyle changes that can help you kick start a slow metabolism again.
When looking to speed up your metabolism, the best place to start is by changing your activity level as well as your nutrition. If you find your metabolism is sinking faster than the Titanic, changes need to be made—and quickly. You’ll need to make a conscious effort to start an exercise routine consisting of weight training as well as cardio. Strive for at least 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week. Along the same lines, you need to stay on top of the foods you eat. What goes into your mouth can be detrimental to your metabolism. Drinking plenty of water is a simple place to start dissecting your nutrition. You need to make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Not only does this have several health benefits when it comes to overall health, but it also plays a role in your metabolism. While most people don’t like the thought of dieting, you should look at it as a dietary lifestyle change. Remove the processed junk from your diet and replace them with nutrient-dense whole foods. You don’t have to quit cold turkey. In fact, you’ll probably fail and then binge on tons of food you’ll regret later. Start slowly by eliminating and substituting one or two things at a time to minimize the blow. Eventually, you won’t miss those items at all.
Researchers have said, “We can manipulate our metabolism to a degree. It’s like a campfire: just like we need to give a fire tinder and pieces of wood in order to keep it from slowing down and burning out, we need to fuel our metabolism as well. Eating your leafy vegetables and working out can definitely help your metabolism. Muscle burns more energy than fat, so lifting weights or anything else that builds muscle—along with eating correctly—can play a large role in how our body processes nutrients. People tend to overlook how important breakfast is. We go all night without food, and our body can approach a fasting state, an episode where our body will withhold calories, if we wait too long to eat after waking up.”
What factors can come into play that slow down your metabolism?
If you’ve been exercising for any period of time you will know how much work it takes to get into shape, yet how easy it is to get out of shape. The same principle is true with your metabolism. You could do everything mentioned above to kick your metabolism into high gear yet with very little time or effort at all, you could totally destroy your metabolism again and have it tapping the brakes.
One simple way to make sure your metabolism stays roaring is to ensure you are getting enough sleep at night. Regardless if you have a clean diet and exercise regularly, if you don’t get enough rest your metabolism won’t run efficiently. Getting a minimum of 8 hours of sleep is ideal not only for health benefits but also for keeping your metabolism functioning properly.
The foods you eat certainly come into play when it comes to your metabolism. Things such as sugars, foods that contain pesticides or antibiotics, refined carbohydrates, and fatty foods just to name a few should be avoided. Try to eat as many organic whole foods as possible and cut out anything that is processed, high in sodium, or was altered in any way other than it being in its natural form.
Another factor that could be detrimental to your metabolism is stress. Cortisol levels can directly inhibit the speed of your metabolism. If you can reduce your stress levels and mitigate cortisol, you can give your metabolism the boost it needs to get going again.
Last, but not least, is age. Your body ages—both internally and externally. Things start to move around and shift on us as the years go by. The same thing happens with your metabolism. It’s for this reason that taking the necessary steps now can help you long-term with preserving your metabolism and allowing it to continue to run efficiently and burn calories at a high rate as you age. One researcher mentioned, “Nothing changes overnight. It’s a matter of making the small choices that can add up to try and negate the effects that are naturally slowing down your metabolism.” By putting in a little effort now, it will save you from having to put in a lot of effort down the road. It’s all about choices, but sooner or later, father time catches up with us all and if we haven’t laid a solid foundation for our health and fitness, he could leave us with an extremely poor quality of life down the road.
Texas A&M University. “Metabolism: What is it and can it be controlled?” ScienceDaily, 19 October 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161019154842.htm>.