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Diet & NutritionWellness

What is Metabolism and How You Can Boost Yours?

6 Mins read

All too often, people blame their weight gain on a slow metabolism. If your metabolism isn’t working perfectly, then you’re more likely to notice fluctuations in your weight. You might even gain weight no matter how you change the diet you eat and how much you exercise. Sounds familiar? Summer is just around the corner, and we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to improve your metabolic rate. Get ready to smash your weight loss goals and fast track your progress to get your summer body!

What is Metabolism?

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A basic definition of metabolism is:

The chemical and bodily processes which occur within living organisms to process energy and maintain life.”  

Your metabolism is a lot more than a tool for losing or maintaining weight. Its definition in biology can include anything from a description of kidneys “metabolising” fatty acids to the way you metabolise foods for energy. 

From a food perspective, metabolism is the biochemical processes your body uses to convert calories into energy. Every time you drink a cup of coffee or eat a biscuit, your metabolism works to process whatever you consume. Besides processing food and drink, it is also responsible for life processes such as:

  • Digesting food
  • Breathing
  • Delivering nutrients to the cells
  • Helping muscles, nerves and cells use energy
  • Eliminating waste from the body

The rate anyone can burn calories is defined as their “metabolic rate”. varies from person to person. Experts refer to the basal metabolic rate as the number of calories you need to burn each day to support crucial life processes like circulating your blood, or breathing. 

What Affects Metabolism?

There are a number of factors influencing your metabolism such as age and gender. There are plenty of websites online to help you calculate your basal metabolic rate. As a general rule of thumb, the higher your metabolism is, the more calories you burn. This is helpful if you want to know the best way to speed up your metabolism.

Some Factors Influencing your Metabolism are:

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Your Age:

  • Your metabolism slows down as you age. Some studies indicate that this is because the body composition changes. For instance, the more muscle you have, the more fat you can burn. Hence, as your muscle mass decreases, your ability to process calories dwindles. Consequently, this could also mean that increasing muscle would be beneficial to your metabolism. 

Sex:

  • Males typically have higher metabolic rates than females. Females generally store fat more effectively than males. Additionally, females are better at conserving energy. Some researchers believe that the difference between metabolism rates for each gender also comes from variations in hormones. 

Temperature:

  • Feeling hot? Your body uses around 40% of its total energy per day to keep your temperature stable. If you’re exposed to more extreme temperatures, your body has to work harder. The harder you work, the better the metabolism boost. 

Body Size:

  • Your height has an influence on your body’s metabolic rate. Taller people generally have a higher BMR, but they don’t burn as many calories during exercise. Doctors can determine whether you’re at risk of conditions like metabolic syndrome based on your weight and height.

Body Composition:

  • Your body composition refers to the amount of fat, muscle, and lean muscle that makes up your body. Lean muscle mass burns more calories, even when you’re not doing anything. Hence, the more muscle you build, the more calories you’ll naturally burn. Besides that, other things, like inflammation, can also slow the metabolism

Stimulants:

  • If you’ve had a lot of coffee or energy drinks in one day, you might have noticed that you feel hungrier. That’s because stimulants like caffeine can influence metabolic rate. However, the risks of over-exposure to caffeine often outweigh the benefits. 

Hormones:

  • Our hormone balance has a huge impact on metabolism. If your body isn’t producing the right thyroid hormones, the metabolism slows down, which can result in weight gain. Excessive thyroid hormones can contribute to weight loss. 

Food to Boost your Metabolism

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If you feel your metabolism isn’t working as well as it could, don’t worry. There are ways you can improve your metabolic rate. The most obvious options are to change your food intake and increase your activity levels. Moving more often throughout the day causes your body to burn more calories for energy. Furthermore, the energy you use revs up your metabolism, even after you stop working out. 

Similarly, cutting calories will push your metabolism to use stored fat for energy. However, it’s important not to skip meals entirely. Your metabolism still needs the right nutrients to work properly. 

Here are some of the top metabolism booster foods.

1. Protein Rich Foods

Food rich in protein, like dairy, eggs, meat, and fish can improve your metabolic rate for a few hours. Protein requires more energy from the body for digestion. 

The Thermic effect of food is the effect responsible for dictating how many calories your body needs to process nutrients in your meals. Protein also reduces the drop in metabolism that can occur with weight loss, because it helps the body to hold onto muscle mass. In addition to that, protein can also make you feel fuller for longer, reducing the risk of overeating.

2. Pulses and Legumes

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Pulses and legumes like beans, peanuts, peas, and lentils are high in protein. These allow you to burn a greater number of calories, similar to the protein-rich foods mentioned above. 

Aside from the protein boost, these foods also include a lot of dietary fibre. This means that your body gets more support for the good bacteria that helps manage your health. Friendly bacteria in your body produces short-chain fatty acids. These acids help your body to use up stored energy and preserve positive blood sugar levels. 

Besides that, beans and peas can also contain high amounts of glutamine. This is an amino acid that improves the calories burned during digestion.

3. Foods Rich in Iron, Zinc and Selenium

Selenium, iron, and zinc all play crucial roles in the body. Each of these products is required for your thyroid gland to function properly. The thyroid is the gland responsible for your metabolism. 

Research demonstrates that diets which don’t contain enough iron, zinc, and selenium could slow down your metabolism. That’s because your body doesn’t have enough power to product the right number of thyroid hormones. Try metabolism boosting foods like seafood, seeds, and nuts to increase your metabolism again.

4. Chili Peppers and Other Spices

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The chemical in chilli peppers known as capsaicin is excellent for metabolism. A review of 20 studies found that capsaicin helps the body burn about 50 bonus calories each day. The substance pushes the metabolism to work faster, thanks to the excess heat. 

Capsaicin may also be beneficial in reducing appetite. Studies indicate that taking this product before meals could reduce your desire for food. 

Other spices can also be beneficial for the metabolism. Drinking hot ginger powder with a meal can help you to burn up to 43 extra calories. Researchers also believe that grains of paradise, which is another spice in the ginger family, could have similar effects.

5. Coffee and Caffeine

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As mentioned above, coffee is excellent for increasing metabolic rate by up to 11%. 

Studies demonstrate that regular doses of caffeine can help with burning calories. However, you will need to avoid drinking energy drinks or lattes with lots of extra sugar and milk. 

Caffeine can also improve your ability to burn fat for energy while boosting your workout performance. Unfortunately, different people respond to caffeine in unique ways. This substance might not be ideal for everyone. 

If coffee isn’t a good pick for you, try oolong or green tea instead, it increases metabolism by up to 10%.

6. Cacao

Cocoa and Cacao are best-known for delicious chocolatey treats. 

However, used correctly, this substance could also be ideal for boosting your metabolism. Studies have shown that cocoa extracts help to promote gene expression in the genes that store fat for energy. Further research indicates that cocoa could change the way we absorb calories during digestion

Cacao and cocoa products like dark chocolate are often most commonly recommended for metabolism. However, it’s important to look for low-fat, low-dairy, and low-sugar options. 

Increasing your Metabolism

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To improve the performance of your metabolism, you first need to know how your body works. 

Understanding what kind of metabolic genes you have, and how they influence the way your body stores fat is crucial. A genetic test can give you an excellent insight into the kind of diet and exercise plans that might work for you. 

Once you know how your genes work, you can begin to build a strategy for metabolism-boosting built on the following pillars:

  • Exercise: Movement is key to improving metabolic performance. You can’t change your age, sex, or even your height, but you can change the amount you move. Harder, more intense workouts will burn more calories. However, any regular movement will push your body to work harder. The more your body works, the more your metabolic rate increases. 
  • Muscle building: Muscle is necessary to burn fat. You can improve your body composition and improve your basal metabolic rate at the same time. Strength training will help you to build lean muscle for burning fat. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be bulky to have muscle. 
  • Calorie management: Eating the right number of calories from the correct food groups is important. Too many of the wrong foods will slow your metabolism, and increase weight gain. Eating the metabolism-boosting foods above will help you to get on the right track. 

Are you ready to make your metabolism work for you? Contact CircleDNA today 

Rebekah Carter
32 posts

About author
Rebekah is a committed copywriter and freelance content producer with a history in the technology, marketing, and health sectors. She’s worked with leading brands around the world, and is constantly searching for new ways to expand her knowledge, and skills.
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