Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What Every Dieter Should Know about Metabolism: Eating Strategies for Increasing our Metabolism

This is Part 3 in the series, What Every Dieter Should Know about Metabolism. Part 1, Metabolism Basics, can be found here, and Part 2, The Role of Muscle, can be found here.

Our metabolism burns the most calories for the automatic body functions of breathing, maintaining our body temperature and circulating blood. Physical activity is the second biggest burner. There is even a special term for the physical activity we do when we aren’t exercising, non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). This refers to all the physical activities we do in the course of daily living such as talking, walking, sitting and shifting, fidgeting, and any other forms of movement that aren’t sleeping or eating. The balance of our caloric expenditure comes from the food we eat and what we drink. Even though what and how we eat is the smallest of the calorie-burning activities, we can influence how much is burned by the physical activities we do with our choices. In other words, the choices we make about foods and eating can turn up our metabolic thermostat.

How We Eat

If we are trying to lose weight, or maintain our current weight, we are probably avoiding foods with lots of calories and little nutritional value, empty calories. The only way we can affect the calories we burn is to increase our physical activity and to make wise choices about both how we eat and what we eat. We want to eat in such a way as to get our metabolism in high gear and we can do that by our choice of foods and by our patterns of eating

Eat frequently: All foods are thermogenic (metabolism enhancing and calorie-burning) so every time we eat, it turns our metabolism up. Eating 5-6 small meals or healthy snacks throughout the day without exceeding your total calorie goal enhances the thermogenic effect. Research shows that people who eat small frequent meals burn more calories. Frequent eating and snacking also helps to stabilize your blood sugar and give you more energy throughout the day.

Time your meals: If you time your meals and snacks about 3 hours apart and start your day with a good breakfast and follow your workout with a substantial meal you will maximize your workout and keep your metabolism busy burning calories throughout the day.

Eat Enough: Starvation diets don’t work because the body goes into survival mode and throttles the metabolic engine down. We need to eat enough to keep the metabolism going, but enough to keep the intake-expenditure equation working in favor of weight loss. The Mayo Clinic has a calculator to help you determine what your safe level of calories for weight loss is based on your height, current weight, age, and gender.

Food choices: Natural unprocessed protein foods such as lean beef, turkey, chicken, fish, and egg whites have a high thermal effect. Whole grains and beans metabolize more slowly (and require more energy to digest) than highly processed foods. Good examples of these are sweet potatoes, oatmeal, whole grains, beans, brown rice, and even potatoes. Fibrous foods such as greens and salad vegetables have a high thermal effect as well.

Vitamins and Minerals: Some vitamins and minerals play an important role in the metabolism of food and without them your metabolism won’t operate at peak efficiency.

The B-vitamins, especially B12 help to regulate your resting metabolic rate (RMR).I take a high potency multivitamin high in B complex three times per day.

The antioxidant effect of Vitamin C is also important in keeping your metabolism tuned up. Our cells may progressively undergo oxidative stress as we age and this may slow down our metabolism. Antioxidants can help fight the free radicals that are responsible for this. Some research shows that inadequate levels of vitamin C can reduce the body’s ability to burn fat. Vitamin C is widely available, inexpensive, and excess amounts are excreted, so there is no reason not to supplement with this important vitamin.

Chromium taken in trace amounts (it’s included in my multivitamin) can help with weight loss by improving the metabolism of sugars and carbohydrates. It has also been found helpful for stabilizing blood sugar levels in hypoglycemic and diabetics.

Calcium, green tea, coffee, and some other foods also boost our metabolism. But, that’s getting into tomorrow’s topic, thermogenic foods.

Here is my recap for yesterday.

Daily Dietary Recap-5/29/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1204.56 88.76 g 187.41 g1105.94 mg 11.91 g 8.9%

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post thanks! I've been trying to do IF for any handful of weeks and its really valuable to possess a lot more meal ideas like yours.
IF is so much less difficult than the old 6 meals a day nightmare I've attempted in the past!

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