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“Your metabolism is the complex process in which food is turned to energy,” says Sarjeant. “A slower metabolism will mean that more of the food you eat is stored as fat. When you have a healthy metabolism, you have loads of energy, maintain a healthy weight and feel great!” Read on for tips on making your metabolism work at its best.
Boost your metabolism tip #1: Work with your metabolism
We’re going to make a bet that while Gisele Bunchen with no doubt works incredibly hard to maintain her perfect bod, she likely has some fast metabolism genes on her side as well. “We’re all different – we all have different metabolisms, determined by age, sex, genes, hormone levels, body size and composition and activity levels,” explains Sarjeant. “While we don’t have much control over those things, we can fortunately influence our hormone and activity levels.” And much of that has to do with what we put into our bodies and how much exercise we get.
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Boost your metabolism tip #2: Watch what you eat
“A big key to keeping your metabolism humming is to make sure that your blood sugar is balanced,” says Sarjeant.
“When you eat a food that causes your blood sugar to spike (sweets and concentrated sources of sugar), the hormone insulin is released. Insulin is responsible for turning that sugar into fat! More sugar equals more insulin, which equals more fat.” So reaching for your mid afternoon snack of chocolate covered almonds, or digging into the office birthday party cake, isn’t doing your metabolism any favours.
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“The easiest way to avoid this is to have three small meals per day plus two snacks, all containing a protein, complex carb and good fat,” explains Sarjeant. “The protein and the good fat will slow the absorption of the sugar contained in the complex carb, leading to less of an insulin spike (and less fat storage!).” The added bonus of fibre in these foods will help maintain that full feeling longer.
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Boost your metabolism tip #3: What you need to eat
“Turning food into energy as opposed to fat relies on hundreds of enzymes. These enzymes rely on vitamins and minerals,” says Sarjeant. “‘Thermogenic’ foods will also help to boost your metabolism. Some of these foods include:
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• Spicy foods, such as hot peppers, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, mustard and horseradish.
• Green tea contains cannatic extract and gymnemic acid, which reduce the absorption of sugar into the blood and lessen cravings for sweets. Catechins found in green tea have also been found to reduce body weight.
• Protein is the building block of muscle. Digestion of protein requires that it be broken down into amino acids. This requires a significant amount of energy and can help to boost your metabolic rate. Good sources of protein include poultry, fish and eggs.
• And don’t forget celery, which takes more energy from the body to absorb and digest than the calories it provides.
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Boost your metabolism tip #4: What not to eat
“Sugar!” insists Sarjeant. “Anything containing processed sugar or grains (especially if consumed on its own, without a little protein and good fat) will cause your blood sugar to surge, which will lead to excess fat storage and cravings.”
Boost your metabolism tip #5: When to eat what
“I always recommend that carbs be consumed with protein and some good fats,” suggests Sarjeant. “This is especially important in the morning – eating a good breakfast (with protein, complex carbs and good fats) is a great way to get your metabolism going and keep cravings at bay.” So throw on some extra nuts or seeds to your cereal, or include items like avocado and olive oil. Throughout the day sipping on a hot green tea can also help. “Green tea, if consumed before a meal, can aid digestion by enhancing amylase, an enzyme required for the digestion of carbohydrates,” says Sarjeant.
For that mid-afternoon slump? “I would recommend a snack that has a little good quality protein, complex carbs and good fats,” suggests Sarjeant. “Some snack ideas include apple slices with almond butter and a shake of cinnamon, celery sticks with a hardboiled egg or some hummus, or a smoothie with berries, hemp seeds and a scoop of protein powder.”
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Boost your metabolism tip #6: What else you need to do
“Exercise!,” insists Sarjeant. “It’s the most effective way to increase your metabolism. Muscle provides a metabolic boost and your muscle tissue actually dictates your metabolic rate! Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.”
Then make sure that you are always getting a good night’s sleep. “If you aren’t getting good quality sleep, your levels of ghrelin, an appetite stimulating hormone, will increase and your levels of appetite-suppressing hormone, leptin, will decrease,” says Sarjeant.
Finally, living a stress-free life is always a goal for everyone, but some extra motivation to keep anxiety down? It will help your waistline. “Chronic stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on your hormones and your waistline because of the overstimulation of cortisol, a hormone excreted by your adrenal glands. High levels of cortisol can push your body into fat store mode, leading to an increase of fat around the midsection,” explains Sarjeant. That means those early morning yoga sessions just started to sound a lot better.