The human metabolism is a tricky thing. It harnesses aspects of many of the body’s systems through a complex network of chemical processes, all toward the single goal of keeping the body running. That is the biological side. Outwardly, we experience good or bad metabolism through many signs both obvious and subtle. Good metabolism is signaled by healthy digestion, high levels of energy, good immune functioning, clear thinking, and a vibrant appearance. Bad metabolism leads to low energy, tiredness, illness, and all-around mental sluggishness.
The human body’s metabolic functions are so complex, though, that it is often hard to pinpoint what exactly boosts metabolism and what hinders it. Moreover, every person’s body is unique, so it can be difficult to generalize about things that work for everyone. However, here are a few metabolism-boosting guidelines that should work well for most people.
1. Do not skip breakfast. Every morning, the body needs a dose of nutrition to kick start its functioning. But you cannot just eat anything that strikes your fancy, and a quick donut on the go certainly is not going to help. Rather, have a full breakfast that provides some sort of protein (eggs work well) as well as modest doses of carbohydrates (whole grains or oats) and beneficial fats (nuts or vegetable oils). Having a meal like this tells your body that it is time to get moving, and the result is a healthy level of energy throughout your day.
2. Build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. However, you do not need to become a body builder to maximize your metabolism. It is about muscle tone, not mass. Activities such as yoga and light weightlifting, performed regularly, can do a great deal toward helping you burn more calories every day.
3. Get your sleep. A well-rested body processes nutrients better than a body that must struggle just to stay awake. Sleeping for a solid eight hours every night makes your body burn calories more efficiently, while lack of sleep will cause the body to slow down and hence retain much of what you would otherwise burn.
4. Have small, frequent meals. Once your healthy breakfast is out of the way, have only small but frequent meals for the rest of the day. While our culture tends toward three large meals daily, this is not the only way to do things. In fact, eating overlarge meals gives the body too much to do, which could cause it to slow down all systems unrelated to digestion. Having five light meals per day reduces this problem.
5. Drink water. Metabolism is deeply intertwined with digestion, and the digestive system needs plenty of water in order to run smoothly. The old recommendations about having ten glasses of water a day probably overstate the matter, but it is a good thing to sip water regularly throughout the day.
6. Know when you are hungry. Even when you are on a small-meals eating plan, it is possible to overwork your body and hence slow it down by consuming too much food in a short period. Hence it helps to learn to recognize your hunger signals. Your body does tell you when it needs food for energy purposes. Trust it, and do not overfeed it when you are not actually hungry.
7. Move around. Whenever you feel your body getting sluggish, get up and go for a walk. Sometimes you just need a little activity to get the body running. Meanwhile, it also helps to go for a walk or at least move around for a few minutes immediately after each meal, as this prevents the body from going into shutdown mode.
By Marc Courtiol