The internet is rife with advice about how you can speed up metabolism. As you get older, though, it’s quite natural for various body systems to begin slowing down, including your metabolism. Unfortunately, this can result in weight gain and excess fat, which none of us want!
There are also thousands of weight-loss supplements and formulas that claim to get your body burning fat faster. The truth is, there is no “magic pill” that can change your body’s ability to burn fat. Much of it comes down to your own efforts in terms of diet, exercise, and self-care.
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What Is Metabolism?
Your metabolism is simply the process by which your body converts food into energy. This is a complex biochemical process in which the calories in food and beverages combine with oxygen to release the energy that you need to carry out various activities.
Your body requires energy all the time, even when you’re resting. Dozens of different functions are going on within you that you don’t even think about, such as breathing, circulating blood, modulating hormones, restoring, and repairing cells.
Similarly, your body requires a certain number of calories to carry out these basic functions. This is known as your basal metabolic rate or metabolism.
Several factors determine the speed of your metabolic rate, including:
- Your body size and composition – People with more muscle burn more calories, even at rest.
- Your gender – Men generally have less body fat and more muscles than women, so they burn more calories.
- Your age – As you get older, your body’s muscle content tends to decrease and fat begins to increase, which can slow down your metabolism.
Can you change your metabolic speed? Well, your metabolism is generally fairly stable, but there are ways to ramp it up a little. Read more about it here: 4 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism
What Happens If You Speed Up Metabolism?
When your metabolism is functioning at its best, you’ll experience lots of health benefits. It’s important to remember that many factors are involved in your metabolic rate, and weight is only one of them!
Having a fast metabolism will mean that your energy levels are much more stable, and you hardly feel tired. This is because your body will be efficiently converting the food you eat into fuel, providing you with a steady source of energy.
People with great metabolisms can also stay mentally focused. You are less likely to gain weight and can shed pounds quickly when you need to.
6 Foods That Can Speed Up Metabolism
It might seem counter-intuitive to think that certain foods could speed up metabolism, but it’s true. Your body needs some nutrients to kick-start your fat-burning processes; that’s why skipping meals may not actually help you lose weight in the long run.
The following foods have been shown to help boost your metabolism and get your weight-loss journey on track:
1. Lean Meats
It takes a lot more work to digest protein than it does to digest carbohydrates or fat. Because of that, experts recommend eating fresh, lean meats such as poultry and fish. The digestion process requires a lot of energy, so you’re burning calories in order to break them down. Studies have shown that protein can increase your post-meal calorie burn by as much as 35%.
What’s more, protein is required for building muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism. Hence, aim to include some protein in every meal and snack throughout the day.
Beans and pulses are an excellent source of plant-based protein. They’re also rich in fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Your body uses up a lot of energy when it breaks down the fiber and protein, and that keeps your metabolism in good working order.
The high fiber content of beans also helps to keep your blood sugar levels steady and prevent those mid-afternoon sugar cravings.
Furthermore, legumes provide iron, zinc, and selenium. These are minerals that your thyroid needs to produce sufficient amounts of hormones. Without them, your metabolism can slow down or become impaired.
Nuts are another great source of protein and fiber. Research has shown that people who eat nuts regularly tend to have a lower risk of insulin resistance and smaller waist sizes than those who don’t eat them. When you have lower insulin resistance, your body is less likely to store fat or develop type 2 diabetes. Again, nuts take longer to break down, which makes them more satisfying and better for your metabolism.
Most importantly, research has even found that nuts can ramp up your metabolism. Several trials have noted that nuts provide increased energy expenditure that may help you burn an extra 10% of your overall energy yield.
4. Whole Grains
Whole grains are a complex carbohydrate that consists of a longer series of sugars. It entails that your body takes longer to break them down, so your metabolism is burning steadily for a longer period. Researchers have found that consuming whole grains increases your post-meal energy expenditure by up to 50% more than eating processed foods.
Foods with complex carbohydrates typically have more nutrients, particularly B vitamins. They play a major part in converting the food you eat into energy, which is the essence of your metabolic function. Specifically, vitamin B12 is often associated with weight loss because it boosts metabolism and provides long-lasting energy.
Be sure to choose whole grains over processed grains. Look for whole-wheat flour, quinoa, brown rice, barley, corn, and oats.
5. Probiotic Foods
Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut help to increase the number of good bacteria in your gut. These bacteria are largely responsible for digesting food in your intestines and facilitating the uptake of nutrients.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Functional Foods reported that when adults ate about 1/2 cup of probiotic yogurt at dinner every night for six weeks, they lost 3-4% body fat. This compared with adults who ate plain yogurt and only lost 1% body fat.
It’s been suggested that probiotics change the way the body metabolizes bile acids. These acids are made by the liver and their primary function is to break down fats in the upper gut. If probiotics can influence how bile acids are metabolized, they may change how much fat your body can absorb from food.
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant known for helping you to “wake up” and boosting your metabolism. It works by blocking a neurotransmitter called adenosine, which causes other neurotransmitters to release more dopamine and norepinephrine.
This helps you feel more alert and energized, which in turn can allow you to exercise longer. Remember, however, that drinking too much caffeine can also trigger a chronic stress response and leave you feeling burnt out, so you should take it in small doses.
Studies have shown that caffeine can increase your resting metabolic rate by around 3–11%, depending on the size of your dose. It’s also shown that this can help burn fat faster. One study even showed that people who took caffeine-based supplements experienced increased fat burning by as much as 29%. Thus, it has led researchers to suggest that caffeine can significantly influence energy balance and speed up metabolism.
Remember, whilte this article focuses on what to eat, to really speed up your metabolism and burn fat, you need to make efforts in terms of exercise and self-care too. Start eating healthy with the above foods that I suggested, and exercise regularly to keep yourself moving.
More On Metabolism
At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.
Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.
One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.
When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.
So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.
Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day
This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.
Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.
When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.
Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity
One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.
Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.
An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.
When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.
Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day
Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.
We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.
By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.
Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment
While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.
I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.
You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.
Con #1: We Move a Lot Less
When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.
Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.
Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.
Con #2: Less Human Interaction
One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.
Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.
Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.
This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.
While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.
Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment
Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.
This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.
For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.
Con #4: Unique Distractions
Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.
For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.
To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.
Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.
We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.