Metabolism is a commonly found term in health magazines, health and lifestyle journals, health blogs, school science textbooks, health commercials and also on television commercials of energy booster drinks! But you always ponder upon its meaning and why it’s so important for your body? Always worry about amping up your metabolic rate? Have doubts on maintaining a good metabolic rate after a certain age or during old age? If the answers to any or all of these questions is yes, then this article might be worth a read!

The process of converting food into energy for each body cell to function and operate, is known as Metabolism. Metabolism is a chain of chemical reactions happening in each cell of the body. Metabolism takes place in the body in two ways:

  1. Catabolism – which is the breakdown of molecule to obtain energy for bodily functions
  2. Anabolism – the synthesis of all compounds needed by the body cells

Each organ in our body needs nutrients from the food we eat to function in a proper manner. Metabolism is closely linked to availability of nutrients and nutrition. Thus, having a healthy metabolism or metabolic rate is the key. Hence, to put it simply, metabolic rate or rate of metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories per unit time. A derivative term of this is BMR, Basal Metabolic Rate. BMR is the amount of energy used by a body during the state of rest. Almost 70% of the energy is used due to the basal life processes, such as:

  1. breathing
  2. blood circulation
  3. nutrient processing
  4. body cell production

Another 20% of energy is used in physical activities and lastly, 10% only from food digestion post meals. Thus, an individual is said to have a high metabolic rate or high BMR when he or she is able to utilise or burn the most energy only during the state of rest. Since metabolism is the most essential process to maintain life inside each cell of our body, it is of utmost importance to know and maintain your body’s metabolism at all ages of life.

Metabolism is affected and determined by a lot of factors, including:

  1. sex
  2. weight
  3. height
  4. age
  5. ethnicity
  6. weight history
  7. body composition
  8. genetic factors
  9. hormone function
  10. physical activity levels

Since metabolism is affected by above factors, a change in body composition or weight will trigger changes in it. Thus, weight loss and muscle gain are the best and natural ways to change or improve your metabolic rate. A 2010 review on resistance training for obesity treatment, indicated that resistance training can improve lean body mass composition and maintain fat mass reduction, increasing BMR.

Given below are more scientific and natural ways to improve and increase your body metabolism:

  1. Eating protein-rich diets – Protein is the most complex compound to digest and thus utilises a lot of energy to burn as compared to carbs or fats. Proteins are expected to increase the metabolic rate by 15-30%, as compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats.
  2. Drinking lots of cold water – We all know that drinking lots of water helps in losing weight faster than drinking any other packaged juices or drinks. Specifically, drinking cold water can burn more calories as the body uses extra energy to bring it to body temperature. Drinking almost 8 big glasses of water daily is said to improve metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.
  3. Doing high-intensity interval workouts – As explained above, making exercise routines and including some high-intensity interval workouts will help lose fat and gain muscle mass which will change the body composition and as a result trigger your metabolism. Our body is generally in the calorie burning stage even after we have finished working out. That’s the simple reason most gym trainers and dieticians suggest to eat a high protein diet after workouts.
  4. Stand up more – This is what most of us are aware of but still ignore. Sitting too much is bad for your health, especially metabolism. In current circumstances of working from home, almost everyone is a slave to lethargy and working from the comfort of couches and beds, thus disrupting the physical health to extremes. Standing up during breaks or walking in between work can help channel the metabolic rate in a better direction.
  5. Getting enough sleep – Taking full 7 to 8 hours of sound sleep is always recommended for the better functioning of all aspects of mental and physical well-being. Since sleeplessness triggers the hunger hormone ghrelin and decreases the fullness hormone leptin, it can cause obesity and thus lead to lower metabolic rates. Hence, the more sleep-deprived you are, the less metabolic rate you will have.

In such modern times, when each individual is so careful of their body weight and age, every other woman or conscious man wants to be fit and feel young, have glowing skin and less health issues; metabolism is the only and integral aspect one needs to keep in mind for achieving all of that. Since age is an important factor which determines and affects the metabolic rate of a person, it becomes crucial to know how to regulate it positively. Here are some ways on how one can maintain good metabolic rate even during ageing:

  1. Eat natural foods instead of packed/canned/processed foods.
  2. Detox your liver by avoiding artificial sugars, trans-fatty acids and non-prescribed pain relief pills.
  3. Consuming more fibrous foods helps to keep your colon healthy and reduces your body’s absorption of toxins. Since toxins get easily stored in fats.
  4. Get 7-8 hours of sleep for keeping the body hormones in normal levels. As with age, estrogen and progesterone decline, leading to increase in cortisol, insulin, thyroid, and adrenals. If your insulin stays high, you’ll gain weight. Thus, getting enough sleep is equally important as a balanced diet during old ages.
  5. Exercise regularly for keeping up with the muscle mass decline at old ages. The best ways to make an exercise routine for older aged adults is: Flexibility, aerobic exercise, and strength training.

Above mentioned are the most important factors to keep in mind for a healthy metabolic rate for ageing adults. But there are certain foods which can have immense impacts on the metabolic rate of any individual irrespective of the age.

Since metabolism is the process of energy production from the food one eats. Hence, the quality and type of food is the most important factor directly affecting the rate of metabolism. So let’s discuss some dietary tips to increase and improve metabolism:

  1. Eating Protein-rich foods like fish, eggs, pulses, nuts and seeds increases metabolism by 15-30% as the body utilises extra energy to burn proteins in your diet as compared to carbs and fats.
  2. Green Tea or Oolong Tea have shown to increase the metabolic rate by 4-5%. They help in weight loss and weight maintenance as well.
  3. Eating spicy foods having pepper which contains capsaicin, boosts metabolism.
  4. Drinking black coffee which contains caffeine helps cut down weight as well as boosts metabolism by 3-11%.
  5. Coconut oil contains medium chain-fats which increases metabolism by 12% as compared to high chain-fats found in other cooking oils and butter.
  6. Consuming apple cider vinegar is a natural and healthy way to improve metabolism and suppress the feelings of hunger. Moreover, it also helps in weight loss. Having a spoonful of it in half a glass of water once or twice a week will do wonders.
  7. Coconut water contains bio-active enzymes which aid in digestion as well as metabolism. Avoid tetra packs and opt for fresh ones.
  8. Lemon water is the best morning routine to adopt. Having it in an empty stomach first thing in the morning will recharge and detoxify the body. Lemon has high metabolism-boosting properties, so intake lemon as much as possible in your diet.
  9. Ginger is believed to have metabolism-boosting properties. Thus having ginger tea, ginger powder in hot water and involving fresh ginger in meals will help boost metabolism.
  10. Iron, zinc and selenium-rich foods help in proper functioning of the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism. Thus eating iron, zinc and selenium-rich foods is important.

Hence, including these food items in your diet will only bring benefits to your metabolic health. Apparently, some lucky individuals have naturally high metabolic rates and so they don’t have to work out so hard or keep a check on their diet so often as most of us. Here are the six signs of a natural high-metabolic rate:

  1. Weight loss
  2. Fatigue
  3. Anemia
  4. Elevated heart rate
  5. Feeling hot and sweaty often
  6. Feeling hungry throughout the day

Nothing too much is ever good, thus, having a naturally fast metabolic-rate comes with its own pros and cons. Losing excessive weight, being fatigued or anemic is a health problem and should be consulted with a medical practitioner as soon as possible.

So if you’ve reached here, that means you now know about body metabolism, metabolic rate and the ways to keep it in good levels. And that’s all you need to know to start your metabolically-aware journey of good health! 🙂

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