Our metabolism plays a crucial role in determining whether we convert food into energy or accumulate extra weight. Many of us blame a “slow” metabolism when we struggle to lose weight, leading to a massive industry of products claiming to speed up our metabolic rate. However, rather than relying on supplements, there are natural methods to boost our metabolism and achieve weight loss success.
Metabolism encompasses all the chemical reactions in our bodies that keep us alive, providing the energy needed for essential functions such as breathing and digestion. When we refer to metabolism in the context of weight, we are specifically referring to our basal metabolic rate (BMR) – the number of calories our body burns at rest. Several factors can influence metabolism, including gender, age, weight, and lifestyle. Unfortunately, metabolism naturally slows down with age and becomes dysfunctional after dieting. Around the age of 40, muscle mass declines, and the ratio of body fat to muscle increases. Since muscle mass determines the body’s metabolic rate, this decrease in muscle leads to burning fewer calories at rest.
The Effect of Weight Loss on Metabolism
Losing significant amounts of weight can also have a negative impact on metabolic rate. When we diet to lose weight, we typically lose both fat and muscle. The decrease in muscle mass slows down our metabolism. Even if we regain the lost weight, our metabolic rate fails to recover to its pre-dieting level. Research reveals that with each diet attempt, the rate at which we burn food slows down by an additional 15% which cannot be explained. This suggests that simply dieting alone is not enough to maintain a healthy and efficient metabolism.
Diet plays a significant role in the amount of energy our body expends to digest, absorb, and metabolize food. Known as diet-induced thermogenesis or the thermic effect of food, this process accounts for approximately 10% of our daily energy expenditure. Studies indicate that protein-rich foods have the highest thermic effect because our bodies require more energy to break down and digest proteins. Including protein-rich foods in our meals can increase our metabolic rate by around 15%, compared to the average increase of 10% from all foods. However, it is essential to maintain a balance by including vegetables, wholegrain carbs, and good fats in our meals to support overall health and weight loss.
Regular physical activity is crucial for boosting muscle mass and increasing metabolic rate. Incorporating at least 30 minutes of physical activity into our daily routine, supplemented by strength training or gym sessions twice a week, can raise our basal metabolic rate. It is important to vary our exercise routine to prevent boredom and exercise avoidance. Neglecting exercise can result in a decline in muscle mass, further slowing down our metabolism and hindering weight loss efforts.
Sleep deprivation has been found to significantly impact metabolism and weight management. Lack of sleep disturbs the body’s energy balance, increasing feelings of hunger, triggering food cravings, and altering sugar metabolism. It also decreases our energy expenditure. To boost our metabolism and support weight loss, it is recommended to aim for at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Avoiding screens for at least one hour before bed can greatly contribute to achieving quality sleep, as screens suppress melatonin production in the brain, signaling daytime instead of nighttime.
The Truth About Metabolism-Boosting Products
The market is flooded with products that promise to activate metabolism and speed up weight loss. While some of these products may contain ingredients like caffeine and capsaicin that temporarily boost metabolism, research confirms that these effects are short-lived and do not support long-term weight loss. In fact, extensive reviews of around 120 studies on weight-loss supplements have revealed that most of these products do not work as claimed, despite bold marketing claims. It is wise to steer clear of these expensive pills, potions, and powders and focus on sustainable methods that have been proven effective.
Boosting our metabolism for weight loss is not as simple as taking a supplement. It involves making lifestyle changes such as incorporating physical activity, maintaining a balanced diet, prioritizing quality sleep, and avoiding gimmicky products. While metabolism may naturally slow down with age and after weight loss, there are steps we can take to mitigate these effects and support a healthy and efficient metabolism. By focusing on long-term, sustainable practices, we can achieve lasting weight loss results and improve overall well-being.