I received a question regarding metabolism and how to amp it up from a reader a while back, so I thought it would make an interesting blog topic.
First things first, please note that while I am a fitness professional, I am not a certified nutritionist, registered dietician or health professional.
The meals I put together and share on the blog come from my own personal knowledge and experience of what works for me. My version of healthy eating might not work for everyone. Also, please realize that I do not post everything I eat on the blog! The majority of my food goes undocumented, and I try to make that clear whenever possible.
The only exception to this is when I share What I Ate Wednesdays. There are over a hundred of those posts to answer the question of what a day in the life of eating around our household typically looks like!
One more thing …
I have never been one to count calories. If I had to take a stab at how many I consume on a daily basis, it would vary from day to day and it depend on how active I am. I am not always consistent, but I think the flexibility helps me keep an overall balance of eating healthy and “indulging” when I feel like my body needs it.
Here’s my best advice on metabolism and how to rev it up!
• Eat breakfast. Never skip it.
Go for lean and protein-packed foods or a green smoothie to kick start your metabolic burn for the day! Eating a nutrient-rich meal shortly after you wake up (think oatmeal, yogurt with with granola and berries, or eggs scrambled with veggies and cheese with a slice of whole-grain toast) literally wakes up your metabolism.
• Snack throughout the day.
When you’re on-the-go, pack healthy snacks. Here are some of my favorites.
Eating smaller portions at a time (5-6 meals/snacks per day) fuels your body with energy all day long and helps curb hunger. In turn, you’ll most likely consume fewer calories overall and make smarter choices, avoiding the “hangry” stage. Take healthy options (protein bars, granola, fruit, cheese sticks, whole-grain crackers) with you and turn to them first before heading over to the vending machine.
• Try eating your heaviest meal at lunch.
Before we dive into this one, please note that there will never be a good time of the day to eat meals that are low in nutrients or high in fat. That said, some people like to eat their heaviest meal at lunch in order to be able to burn it off throughout the day. Of course, everyone and every schedule is different, and you have to do what works best for you.
Packing a full meal for lunch every day might not be realistic, but if you can swing it, enjoy those occasional heavy pasta leftovers for lunch and turn to a chicken and vegetable loaded salad for dinner.
• Strength train.
Not only does muscle weigh more than fat, but it uses more energy, too.
Strength training will lead to dropping fat and building muscle tone and definition. As your lean muscle increases, so does your resting metabolism, and your body learns to burn more calories all day long!
• Get a good balance of protein, carbs, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables.
When putting meals together, aim for a solid combination of proteins, healthy carbs, and fruits/vegetables. Healthy fats will most likely be in the form of an oil, butter, or dressing. Carbs don’t necessarily mean the pizza and breadsticks value meal of the week, either.
My favorite healthy carb to cook is sweet potatoes, but quinoa comes in as a close second! Other ideas include oatmeal, whole-grain pasta, rice, and toast. Think of peanut butter, low-fat or string cheese, almonds, oils, and avocado for healthy fats.
You’ll see more tips on protein below!
• Switch to tea (specifically green).
Cut out the sodas, cut back on alcohol, and switch to tea when you’re not drinking water.
Not only will you feel less bloated, but you’ll feel more energized throughout the day. Green tea is best (for its EGCG – epigallocatechin gallate – content), and three cups of brewed green tea a day is said to noticeably up your metabolism. If you’re worried about drinking too much caffeine, switch to herbal (decaffeinated) teas before you reach for a soda or sugary drink like a punch or lemonade.
• Power with protein!
Beyond all of the health benefits you get from of consuming enough protein, it also helps to keep you fuller, longer. It takes your body more energy to burn through protein than carbs or fat, and it may even help preserve lean body mass.
Think lean meats (like skinless chicken breasts, turkey, pork loin, salmon), eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, nuts and seeds, beans, protein bars, shakes, and smoothies.
Check out more info on protein and some of my favorite ways to enjoy it here, here and here.
• Kick it up a notch with spicy food.
Spicy foods have natural chemicals that can rev up your metabolism! Try throwing red or green chili peppers into your recipes or adding spices (my favorite is red pepper flakes) to pasta dishes, chili, and soups.
• Don’t skip meals.
People who only eat once or twice a day without snacking are actually slowing down their metabolism. When you don’t eat for a long period of time, your body notices, and your metabolism goes into safety mode by slowing down.
This happens in an effort for your body to conserve energy and basically puts it in “starvation mode” which might lead to storing meals as fat. Read more about this here and here.
• Refuel after working out.
Grab a protein bar, drink a protein shake, or eat your next meal within thirty minutes of exercising to keep the metabolic burn going. It’s important to replenish those calories you burned from your workout with healthy carbs and protein! One of the best refueling drinks you can have (besides water) is chocolate milk, and I usually prefer chocolate almond milk.
I often like to mix in a protein powder and a couple servings of fruit like strawberries and bananas and throw everything into the blender with ice to make a healthy post-workout smoothie! Check out some of my favorite smoothies for more ideas.
My best piece of advice regarding metabolism is to learn to love eating healthy in a way that works for you. If you don’t like brussels sprouts, don’t eat them. Try other things and combinations to mix your meals up. I love creating power (rice, quinoa) bowls, huge salads, and even healthier pastas by throwing vegetables, proteins, and beans into it. Get creative!
Don’t deprive your body of certain foods, and instead, indulge in moderation. Listen to your body, as it usually craves certain food for a reason. If you cut something you love out completely, you’re most likely going to binge on it later on. Eating heathy and nutritiously is all about finding a balance!
Please feel free to share your tips on revving up metabolism in the comments section. I would especially love to hear from registered dietitians and health professionals!
If you have any specific questions, I’ll try my best to answer your questions.
Also, thank you to all who entered the Tervis giveaway! I loved reading your excitement over the new collections, and the winner has been emailed. (Congratulations to Megan!)
Have a great rest of your Tuesday!
Questions of the Day
• Do you have any tips on amping up your metabolism?
• Are you a fan of spicy foods?
Funny story, I didn’t like spicy food until I was in my mid-twenties. I don’t know if my taste buds changed or if I just became more adventurous to try new things, but one day I decided to finally give spicy dishes a chance and I fell in love. I LOVE spicy food! I’m not brave enough to order “Thai hot” at restaurants, but I appreciate a good kick to chilis, sauces, dips, and always have the red pepper flakes close to pizza and pasta dishes. Give it a chance!
Melanie@Toots + Dill
I was literally just saying to my husband a few nights ago I need to really fire up my metabolism because I feel so sluggish. As I write this I’m drinking some green tea and wow thank you for the other tips!! I definitely need to eat lighter at dinner, snack more healthily, and bring in the strength training!! I’ve been doing cardio zumba but I’m just not seeing results – I’m going to have to switch it up! =)
Thank you again! =)
I’m so glad you found them helpful! I think you will notice the biggest difference with snacking smartly and incorporating more strength training. Best of luck to you!
You would have to drink 6 cups of green tea to actually burn any significant amount of calories.
Alyssa @ renaissancerunnergirl
I am definitely a snacker and I prefer to eat smaller meals throughout the day. I also tend to eat most of my food earlier on, with a large breakfast or brunch and lots of afternoon snacks, and then cut it off after dinner/dessert, meaning I consume most of my food before 7pm. It also helps me sleep better not to eat within about 2 hours of going to bed, but that means I absolutely have to eat on waking!
Alyssa @ renaissancerunnergirl recently posted…WIAW #47: Allergy Free Mickey Treats
I agree with all of those points! I usually eat breakfast as soon as possible. And, snacking is a big part of my day. Ha!
It doesn’t matter what time of day you eat the heaviest meal when trying to lose weight. It’s such a myth that people gain more weight by eating heavy meals later.
Hi Elena, thanks for sharing your tips. Like I mentioned above – these points are what have worked best for me. I’m not a health professional, and I realize that every body is different. Personally, I prefer to eat heavier meals earlier to power me through the rest of the day rather than just winding down and getting ready for bed. This way, I also want breakfast shortly after I wake up the next morning, too. This type of cycle helps me feel more motivated to move and less sluggish, but that’s just me!
Janelle @ Wholly Healthy
Great tips! I love that you included strength training because I feel like that has really changed my body. I would have to also say intervals and kettlebells.
Janelle @ Wholly Healthy recently posted…5 Ways to Make a Push-Up Easier
Thanks Janelle! I can’t stress how important strength training is. Yes, cardio intervals and Tabatas are great to work on endurance and burn fat, too!
Emily Swanson (@Emily11949309)
I LOVE these Heather. I’ve learned some of them the hard way in the past year. I think I really took strength training, protein, frequent eating, etc… THank you for sharing!!! 🙂 <3
Emily Swanson (@Emily11949309) recently posted…TOLT: Trust And Intuitive Eating
Awesome, Emily! Thanks for reading!
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Jut wanted to drop in and say you have some solid advice and I enjoyed reading the article 🙂