A few tweaks to your daily routine can amp up the way your body spends energy.
We at Man’s Life love the second half of the year. It’s when the festive season kicks in. The weather is kinder too! Having said that, most people go through it feeling a lot of guilt—for having had too much meetha or that extra cocktail or beer. What if we told you that you could eat whatever you wanted and still make your body work for you, expending all those extra calories? With a little bit of effort from your side of course! There’s nothing like a free lunch, my friend!
In simple terms, metabolism refers to the chemical processes by which the cells in our bodies produce energy needed to sustain life. The higher the rate of metabolism the more energy (fat and calories) your body burns! Metabolism is the chemical processes going on continuously inside your body that allow life and normal functioning (maintaining normal functioning in the body is called homeostasis). These processes include those that break down nutrients from our food, and those that build and repair our body.
It is responsible for the total number of calories your body burns each day. A large percentage of the energy released from the food you intake, is used up for involuntary functions like breathing and blood circulation. A small percentage is also used for digesting the food. The remaining 25 percent of the calories is used for daily physical activity—everything from that morning/evening workout, standing in line at Starbucks and washing the dishes at the end of a day! So, sitting for long hours, doesn’t ever do anyone any good!
Now that you’ve had a refresher in what metabolism is, let’s take a look at how you can, maybe, give your body a gentle nudge to keep your metabolic rate high this party season.
It’s true that some of us may have a slight genetic edge over others when it comes to metabolism. Yes, we are talking about that cousin or friend, who eats all the time and still has no sign of a belly! It’s a fact that the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn—even when you’re not being active.
The Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR refers to the amount of energy your body needs to maintain regular bodily functions. Your BMR is largely determined by your total lean mass, especially muscle mass because lean mass requires a lot of energy to maintain. Anything that reduces lean mass, like excess fat, will reduce your BMR.
Now, don’t go blaming your parents for your flab. Mumbai-based, certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist, Bhaskar Shetty says, “Ultimately, two things are extremely important in determining your weight: Your daily food intake and amount of activity. There are so many ways through which people can keep their metabolism at par. However, it’s important to remember that each person’s body is different. What works for me may not necessarily work for you.”He feels that “keeping yourself hydrated, keeping a tab on micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals can actually help your body absorb macros with a good training regimen.”
So, what can you do to not only add muscle but also maximize your metabolism?
▶ DRINKING MORE WATER
A study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found that drinking water increases the metabolic rate in healthy men and women by 30 percent. The boost occurred within 10 minutes, but reached a maximum of 30 to 40 minutes after drinking. The study recommends drinking a minimum of two litres of water daily, as even mild dehydration will slow down metabolism by as much as five percent! So, instead of reaching for a glass or cola or even juice, load up on H20!
▶ BUILD MORE MUSCLE
Several studies have proven that lifting weights will not only increase muscle mass (which will burn more calories), but also the act of strength training, helps speed resting metabolic rate. Opt for more high-intensity interval training—as quick bouts of intense exercise that can jumpstart metabolism and keep you burning calories long after the workout is over. “Mixing up your workout routine, gives your body the stimulus it needs to grow. Progressive overload in weight training or cardio or a combination of both or HIIT are a great way to go,” adds Shetty.
▶ EAT SMART
Protein and fibre-rich foods (whether eaten at breakfast or at other times) require a good amount of energy to break down and digest, which gets your body and metabolism firing. So, it’s a great idea to add some form of protein to all your meals. Spicy dishes, especially those with capsaicin-loaded chilies, have been proven to increase satiety briefly, and raise metabolic rate. Proteins are said to raise the BMR by 20 to 30 per cent! So, even if you’ve eaten cakes or ladoos or too much starch for one meal, enjoy that completely, and load up on protein for your next meal.
▶ KEEP YOUR STRESS LEVELS IN CHECK
When you’re in a state of elevated stress, your body releases cortisol. Referred to as the stress hormone—it’s associated with a worsening of metabolism, and in the long-run, increasing the risk for obesity. Those extra kilos around your midriff are mostly thanks to cortisol. So, set aside at least 15 minutes after your wake up and before your bedtime—to meditate or just for simply taking a few deep breaths to soothe your nerves. There are several apps that help beat stress and manage anxiety (if you don’t need medical help that is).
Scientists have discovered that if you don’t get at least seven hours of sleep, the hunger hormone ghrelin kicks into overdrive, leading you to make poor food choices during the day. Plus, your body goes into deep repair when you sleep, which can burn more calories.
Hormonal disorders, particularly ones that affect the Thyroid gland can lead to metabolic slowdown—as it’s responsible for regulating many metabolic processes—including energy expenditure (the rate at which kilojoules are burned). You will need to seek medical help if this is the case. If not, just adding all of the above steps will rev up the process that keeps you light and fit.
[Featured Image Credit: Tiger Shroff]