We have all that one skinny friend who defies all physics. You know, the one who can cough down the entire dessert table and not gain a single pound. The one with the “fast metabolism”.
We also have that one friend who eats and walks like everyone else, but has always been 50 pounds heavier.
For 22 years, this friend was me. Genes, slow metabolism, a predisposition to obesity. I found it convenient to have something to blame for the excess weight I was carrying around. It gave me a sense of misplaced comfort and contentment to know that my misfortune was a result of something out of my control.
WRONG. Turns out, I was only fooling myself. The sense of “helplessness” gave me the perfect excuse not to do anything about my plight.
While you’re right to blame your slow metabolism for a lot of things (like the size-4 dress you couldn’t wear to the prom), pointing fingers is counterproductive. If you’re serious about living healthier, no more excuses. It’s time to act.
Cranking Up Your Metabolic Rate
Having slow metabolism is not an inevitable doom, like the pessimistic, lazy voice in your head would have you believe. Research shows you can “teach” your body into burning calories more efficiently – with the right exercise, diet, and attitude.
So, how do you increase your metabolism? Here’s what the experts suggest:
Alternate Between High and Low Speeds
The next time you’re on the treadmill or jogging around a field, don’t maintain a single speed throughout. Alternate between intense and normal speeds. You will use up more oxygen and make your cell powerhouse, the mitochondria, work harder to burn energy throughout the day.
Run for 5 minutes at 5kmh. Increase the speed to 10kmh for 60 seconds. And then go back to 5kmh for 2 minutes. Repeat the sequence for 30 minutes, twice a week. You may increase the incline and speed when you’re ready.
Muscle uses more energy – AKA the more muscle you have, the more energy you burn up. Try strength-training for 30-40 minutes twice a week.
Get Your Omega 3s
We know omega-3s are good for us, but how do they speed up metabolism? They balance blood sugar and reduce inflammation, which aids in regulating metabolism. Load up on tuna, salmon, omega-3 fatty supplements or non-fish sources like walnuts, flaxseed oils or eggs.
Go Green (Tea)
Past studies show catechin, a green tea ingredient, may improve fat oxidation and thermogenesis, which in turn, may amp up your metabolism. One study suggests that drinking five cups of green tea a day can burn 90 calories a day! But hey, five cups may be too much.
Give Up All the Junk
We’re talking trans-fat, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and basically, everything your doctor tells you is bad for you (yes, even the doughnuts). Trans fat, which is found in many processed foods, reduces your body’s ability to burn fat. It binds to fat and liver cells and slows down metabolism.
Instead, load up on fruits and vegetables (especially those grown without pesticide); they keep your fat-burning system running in optimal condition because you’re not exposed to toxins. And because you can never go wrong with fruits and veggies.
Discipline. That’s all there is to it. As long the mind is willing and patient, the body will follow. I’m the first person to say that getting started on a regimen is a pain. Expect to have good and bad days. Expect to give yourself excuses not to hit the gym. Expect to summon the resolve to grab a slice of carrot over a strip of bacon. Except to conquer your demons and do what’s right for your body.
Because it cannot be said enough: the sacrifice will be all worth it when you’re breathing easier, running faster, and looking better.