When it comes to losing weight, it’s not too hard to come up with a long list of obstacles that can keep this dream from becoming a reality.
Super-busy schedules can make it more difficult to find the time to prep healthy meals and then there’s the continual question of which type of eating plan is best: high protein and low carb, high carb and low fat, high fat and low carb, or another option entirely?
While any of these issues has the ability to derail the best weight loss intentions, another common concern is a slow metabolism. But what exactly is metabolism and how can one potentially jump start it to begin to shed those unwanted pounds?
Metabolism and the science behind it
The Mayo Clinic explains that metabolism is a “complex biochemical process” in which your body turns the foods you eat and the beverages you drink into the energy your body needs to function. This is critical as the energy you take in via your diet is what enables your body to properly support automatic actions such as breathing in and out and circulating your blood.
This energy is also needed to perform activities of choice, which is why some marathoners and other top athletes load up on proteins and carbs before a big event. They need the additional energy to help support the upcoming increased activity load.
If your metabolism is slow then, your body struggles to effectively use the calories that you take in. This increases the odds that they will be stored in the form of fat, making it even harder to get yourself to a healthier weight.
It’s important to note that, according to the Mayo Clinic, the body is very efficient at regulating metabolism and “only in rare cases” are there medical issues that actually slow the metabolism to the point where the result is excessive levels of weight gain. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few things you can to your diet to give your metabolism a little boost so you can get a jump start on your weight loss goals.
Diet-based options for boosting metabolism
One option is to increase the amount of protein you eat. According to research published in Nutrition & Metabolism, the body’s energy expenditure is highest when digesting high-protein foods, more so than foods that are primarily carbohydrate or fat. Therefore, the more protein you eat, the more calories your body burns during the digestive process.
In fact, one of the studies referenced in this research found that individuals who consume a diet that is 29 percent protein “had a 891 kJ/d higher resting metabolic rate” than those whose diet was only 11 percent protein. They go on to say that high quality proteins are the best, but also, because this type of diet has the potential of being harder on the kidneys, researchers suggest that the function of these organs be monitored if you decide to take this route.
And if you want to take your metabolism up another notch yet, spice up your proteins (and other foods) as research has confirmed that capsaicin can also provide a modest metabolic boost. Red pepper flakes, cayenne, and other spicy herbs are best as hot sauces tend to contain a high amount of sodium, making them a less desirable choice, especially if you struggle with blood pressure issues.
Another metabolism-boosting diet strategy, according to research, is to drink more water. For instance, a study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism and it found that drinking 500 ml of water—which is 16.9 fluid ounces—can increase metabolic rate by as much as 30 percent. If you find water too boring, you can always jazz it up with cucumber slices, lemon wedges, or any other variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs that will satisfy your taste buds while also quenching your thirst.
Green tea can also potentially create an increase in your metabolism, with researchers at Penn State discovering that mice on high-fat diets still lost an average of 27.1 percent of their body mass and 36.6 percent of their abdominal fat after 16 weeks of decaffeinated green tea extracts combined with exercise. They speculate that the green tea works by increasing fat metabolism as it likely directly affects energy-related genes.
Incorporate these few changes in your diet—eating more protein, choosing spicier foods, drinking more water, and adding a few cups of green tea—and you’ll be in a better position to boost your metabolism, giving you a better start on reaching your weight loss goals.
Although they may seem like minor things to do, when it comes to the weight loss game, every little bit counts.