How-to: makeover your metabolism
Think you’ve inherited your mum’s slow metabolism? The good news is, you’re not stuck with it. Yep, genetics aren’t the sole factor influencing how you process calories. According to Melissa Fine, Nutritionist and Health Editor for GoodnessMe Box, “What you eat, as well as your daily routine can largely influence the rate at which you burn energy”. So how can you use these other factors to your advantage? We got Melissa’s expert tips and tricks…
Watch your portions
When it comes to fashioning a metabolic-boosting diet, Melissa says your main focus shouldn’t be so much on what you eat, but rather, how much. “Mindless snacking [and] too-large portion sizes are large culprits when it comes to weight gain,” she says. That being said, the nutritionist warns that “eating too little may put your body into ‘starvation mode’, meaning it holds onto energy stores” – hence why you shouldn’t scrimp on breakfast! So what’s the best practice when it comes to portion sizes? Melissa advises saving your smallest meal for dinnertime. To tide you over till morning (and help you avoid late-night snacking), opt for something “rich in protein and fibre, like a veggie omelette or a stir fry with chicken or tofu”.
While Melissa says there’s no “miracle food” to instantly speed up your metabolism, she recommends incorporating virgin or extra virgin coconut oil into your diet as (apart from being delicious) “it’s converted into energy by the liver, rather than being stored elsewhere as fat”. Furthermore, it’s rich flavour means it can “help curb your sweet cravings” – meaning you’ll be less likely to reach for metabolic no-nos such as calorific cookies. To incorporate coconut oil into your diet, the nutritionist recommends trying it in a stir-fry, or “in baking instead of butter or vegetable oil”. Need more proof that this much-hyped oil is a worthwhile addition to your pantry? It also offers numerous beauty benefits.
Build some muscle
In addition to having a nutritious diet, exercise is key to kicking your metabolism into gear. Not only fat burning in the immediate sense, it also raises your metabolic rate, meaning you’ll continue to keep burning calories long after your gym session. According to Melissa, “muscle tissue uses up more energy than fat”, so it’s a good idea to incorporate weight bearing into your fitness regime. Her advice? “If you’ve never done weights before, it’s worth having a weights session with a good personal trainer so that you don’t end up injuring yourself”. If this doesn’t appeal to you, there are numerous other resistance-training options to consider. As well as boot camp, the nutritionist personally recommends Xtend Barre classes – “I tried this the other day, such fun!”
Get some zz’s
Having a healthy diet and exercise regime is all well and good, but if you aren’t getting enough zz’s, your metabolism may not be as efficient as it could be. According to Melissa, one of the most important benefits of good sleep is that “it provides the opportunity for muscle recovery and repair”, ensuring your weights sessions don’t go to waste. Need more convincing to get to bed early? Lack of sleep can also increase your levels of the ‘hunger hormone’, ghrelin, “meaning you’re more likely to eat extra throughout the day even if your energy demands are no greater than usual”. Avoid this by getting seven to eight hours of quality sleep per night – your metabolism (not to mention your other bodily systems) will thank you for it!