If you're confused about the myriad articles on the web telling you to eat tons of fiber, tons of grains, dairy etc. Please be skeptical. Always question, who is funding the online sources that are publishing these articles. Is it a big Agra company that has interest in making people buy their products? Dairy companies touting their fat free yogurts as sustainable energy sources or metabolism boosting? Just because it's written in an article does not make it true or accurate. Always do your own research. You don't have to trust me either but I'm after science. I want to know some facts and have no agenda other than to help you and me along the way.
Here's an interesting thing about the human brain. We already feel accomplished when we read an informative article. Especially if it speaks to us, it feels as though we've already succeeded in our goal. Nifty little brain. So no matter how glorious it seems always be skeptical and question everything.
The truth is, there is no magic pill for increasing your metabolism. We have to work hard and be mindful of our choices and navigate through the sea of misinformation that surrounds us.
So with that said, let's look at some things we can do to improve our metabolism as we age.
Drink bone broth
It should be no surprise that one of the very first things that ensure a good metabolism is having a healthy gut. Making sure nutrients are properly assimilated can only happen if the gut is working properly. By drinking bone broth on a regular basis, you're ensuring that the mucousal lining of the gut is sealed. Bone broth is also a perfect food as it's high in collagen and protein while low in calories. If you want additional benefits about bone broth and collagen check out this post and this post.
I know, I know, how can you possibly boost your metabolism while you're doing nothing but sleeping? But it has been well studied that poor sleep is directly related to weight gain and poor metabolism. This has to do with the two key hormones that play a role in this process. The two are ghrelin and leptin. Basically the way these hormones work is; ghrelin tells the body it's hungry and it needs to eat and leptin tells it, it's full and has had enough. This study looked at individuals who were sleep deprived and found elevated ghrelin levels while leptin was significantly reduced, resulting in increased appetite. So sleep deprivation is directly related to weight gain on a hormonal level.
Include more protein
Including adequate amount of protein and fat, while lowering carbohydrate intake will help with controlling the appetite centers in the brain. Appetite is largely controlled by the hypothalamus which relies on hormones secreted by the pituitary gland. Eating a diet higher in protein can affect the hormones GLP-1, peptide YY and cholecystokinin that play a main role in regulating satiety thus also reducing the hormone ghrelin (which is responsible for hunger).
By including good sources of protein and ensuring you include plenty of good fat, you're going to control appetite and feel fuller longer.
Increase water intake
I don't have to go into telling you that the human body is made up of 80% water and that if you go without water for 3 days you will likely die. But you may not be getting the adequate amount of water that you need even if you have plenty of it at your disposal.
Most people who drink anything other than water, plain tea or coffee, may be struggling to take weight off. Most sugary drinks as well as diet drinks contribute to weight gain. This is nothing new and most people know this, yet are not aware of how much sugar they are consuming unless carefully reading labels (And if they are, chances are they're not drinking the stuff). If you want additional information on why diet drinks contribute to weight gain, this study will highlight that.
Drinking plain cold water will help to boost metabolism. This study highlights how including an extra 50 oz of water above the recommended daily intake, can in fact speed up metabolism and lead to weight loss.
Additionally, drinking cold water can boost the resting energy expenditure (REE) by 25% as your body has to work extra hard to bring the water down in temperature, so that's an added bonus.
Use apple cider vinegar daily
I feel the need to put this out there as raw apple cider vinegar contains live bacteria and may not be suitable for pregnant or nursing women so please do your research. I personally used it while nursing but that's me.
Acetic acid is the main component in vinegar. In animal models it has shown to suppress the accumulation of body fat. This has been studied in humans as well, and the results show that consuming vinegar does have a positive weight loss effect. Again, it's not a magic pill, but in conjunction with diet and exercise it may have a positive effect.
If you're frustrated by your cardio workout not getting you the desired results, try lifting weights. If you're a woman and are concerned with bulking, rest assured you would have to train incredibly hard and long and eat an obscene amount of calories and protein to bulk up. If you include 3 days of lifting in your week's workout, you will notice a significant difference in your muscle mass. Ensuring you have a good combination of aerobic exercise along with lifting weights will have the greatest effect on weight loss and boosting metabolism.
Consider High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
You may have heard the term but may have wondered what it was. This is usually associated with CrossFit and you may or may not be a fan. Regardless of whether you are a regular CrossFitter or have never heard the term, you can incorporate HIIT into any work out.
The concept is very simple. Short burst of high intensity cardiovascular training along with a rest period. Think sprinting as hard as you can for 30 seconds to a minute and then walking and recovering for 1-2 minutes or however long works for you, while keeping your heart-rate high. This form of exercise is considerably more effective at boosting your metabolism and burning calories, rather than a steady run/jog. You can do this with any work out. Yoga, walking, barre, Pilates, lifting, biking, etc.
Foods that boost metabolism
I personally eat most of these foods daily and find that my mood is stable and have more energy.
- Chia seeds - loaded with omega 3 fatty acids, high in fiber, protein and magnesium. These little guys slow digestion helping you to feel fuller longer. They're balanced in terms of fat, carbohydrates and protein, helping to boost energy. Studies have also shown that they help with reduction of adipose tissue.
- Coconut oil - This oil is made up entirely of Medium Chain Fatty Acids, which are metabolized in a different way than regular fats. These are metabolized by the liver and used for energy or turned to ketones (you can find out more about the ketogenic diet here)
- Leafy greens - Adding leafy greens to your diet will optimize your cellular function as well as your metabolism. Greens are usually high in fiber and help to burn about 30% more fat.
- Chicken - digesting chicken requires a lot of work, forcing the body to expand a lot of energy. Additionally just 3 ounces of chicken provide about 25 grams of protein and helps to protect from losing muscle mass during weight loss.
- Fermented foods - Again, I'll reiterate, a healthy gut ensures that we have metabolism that functions optimally. Dr. Mercola had a sample of his sauerkraut analyzed and the results showed that sauerkraut (not shelf stable kind) to contain upward of 10 trillion bacteria, which is equivalent to an entire bottle of 60 pill probiotics. If you want recipes on making your own fermented foods, please check out my recipe.
- Almonds - Think raw almonds not chocolate, cinnamon or roasted in salt and oil. Those will not do. Consider buying raw almonds and roasting them yourself (sheet pan, 350 oven, 8-10 minutes). These are high in vitamin E, antioxidants and healthy fatty acids along with magnesium, which is essential for proper metabolism function.
- Ghee - Is rich in Medium Chain Fatty Acids and similar to coconut oil, it is absorbed directly by the liver and used as energy. If you want to know how to make your own ghee, here is the recipe along with additional health benefits.
- Green tea - This study performed on 63 patients with Type 2 Diabetes, showed a significant decrease in body weight when they consumed 4 cups of green tea per day as opposed to the other control groups who consumed 2 cups or no green tea at all. In addition to helping metabolism, green tea contains L-Thianine, which significantly reduces anxiety.
- Coffee - One of the most beloved beverages in the world is good for you. In this series of studies, the effects of caffeine were measured on control and obese individuals and the results showed that metabolic rate increased in both groups.
As we get older and notice a decline in our ability to burn fat, I think these steps will help to keep our bodies and minds functioning well for years to come.
My recipe for a healthy life is simple: Eat real food, try and limit grains and refined carbs, cut out most packaged foods, eat good fats, protein, lots of vegetables and some fruit, drink ample water and move. Have healthy social interactions and do whatever it takes to reduce daily stress.