When you think of someone with a “fast metabolism,” you might immediately envision a naturally thin person. However, metabolism is actually the chemical process in which your body turns calories into energy, and everyone has the ability to implement practices that can shift your levels of metabolism. A strong metabolism has seemingly endless benefits. It is related to lower rates of disease, healthy sex drive, longevity, and more.
Those with autoimmune conditions typically suffer from a sluggish metabolism. It is almost as if their body’s energy-producing mitochondria and thyroid (AKA the “gas pedal gland”) have both gone on strike and, as a consequence, everything has slowed down. As a result of the change in metabolic function, someone with an autoimmune disease might feel tired and cold a lot. They could also have a hard time losing weight. A slow metabolism will decrease the robustness of the immune system, so it is essential to keep track of any big shifts in metabolic function. If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease or just think that your metabolism needs a boost, I recommend trying some of these strategies:
This is one of the most deceptively simple ways to raise your metabolism and relax your body and mind – at the same time. Studies have shown that practices, like yoga, that incorporate conscious breathing result in greater metabolic efficiency likely due to reduced sympathetic activity and/or stabilized nervous system function. If you are new to conscious breath work, do not be intimidated; anyone can do it! You can start by simply inhaling for eight seconds, holding your breath for eight seconds and then exhaling for eight seconds. Do three rounds of 10 breaths in the morning when you wake up and before going to sleep at night.
The Plant Based Ketogenic Diet
You have probably heard that the ketogenic diet has helped some people lose weight; but did you know that it has also been shown to improve overall metabolism in some cases? For those who are unfamiliar with keto, it is a style of eating that is high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbohydrates (roughly 70 percent fat, 25 percent protein and five percent carbs). The ketogenic diet can help to lower inflammation, reverse insulin resistance, improve brain function, increase energy levels, and even helps you detoxify from heavy metals. Keto doesn’t have to mean high animal protein and I wouldn’t recommend that version of it. There is a mostly plant-based keto program I would recommend. You can start by looking into Ketotarian by Dr. Will Cole.
Studies confirm that going without food for certain lengths of time has numerous health benefits like improving insulin sensitivity, increasing energy levels, and boosting metabolism. To ease into it, allow 15 hours between dinner and breakfast a few times per week. If you are more of a morning eater, try skipping dinner multiple times a week and only eat during the mornings and afternoons. Intermittent fasting is not intended to be calorie depriving. In fact, you should not be reducing your caloric intake at all when practicing this form of fasting. You are simply giving your body more time in between meals to reset because digestion is a lot of work on your system.
Stop Calorie Restriction
Give your body the calories it needs to function properly! If you are dieting too intensely, you can wind up entering “starvation mode.” This causes hormonal and cellular changes that drive up your hunger and thirst, while slowing down your fat-burning abilities and muscle growth. Your body slows down all of its essential processes as a means of conserving energy since it is not consuming enough fuel in the form of food.
Various forms of exercise have been shown to have both short and long-term effects on metabolic function. I often tell my clients that mild intermittent fasting paired with moderate exercise can be a great combination for combatting poor metabolism. Moderate cardio in a fasted state first thing in the morning, for example, has been shown to offer superior metabolic effects than exercising after eating.
You may be thinking that this one sounds like an old wives’ tale, but it actually works! Not only does cold water force your body to work harder to keep you warm, thereby burning more calories, it also activates healthy brown fat that helps to eliminate harmful adipose (white) fat. For optimal results, alternate 20 seconds of hot water and 20 seconds of cold water in the shower for a few minutes.
Get Plenty of Sleep
There is a proven link between a properly functioning metabolism and getting adequate sleep and rest. Therefore, a lack of sleep can literally mean a lack of weight loss. “Running on fumes” can seriously slow down your metabolism, so it is absolutely imperative for you to get around eight hours of sleep every night. Just because your brain may feel like it is able to function on limited sleep, that does not mean that your body is operating optimally on it.
Eat the Right Foods
There are various foods that can help to boost your metabolism in different ways. Some of them include healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and wild fatty fish. Foods rich in iron, zinc and selenium promote proper thyroid function, which helps to maintain a healthy metabolism. Spicy foods like chili and cayenne peppers contain a compound called capsaicin, which may help to slightly increase metabolism and fat oxidation. Similarly, garlic can have a thermogenic effect in the body, which enhances the metabolism. The caffeine found in coffee may also help to boost the number of calories and fat that your body burns. If you are not a coffee drinker, do not worry, you are still in luck. The combination of caffeine and catechins found in green tea may help your body burn slightly more calories and fat if consumed regularly.
Ginger has also been found to increase calorie burning processes. Cacao may have certain metabolism-boosting properties as well, especially for those consuming high-calorie, high-fat diets. Almonds have numerous benefits and among them is metabolism improvement and weight loss. Coconut Oil and MCT Oil have shown similar promise for their metabolism-enhancing properties. I often recommend that my clients add a spoonful of MCT oil to their morning coffee or smoothie to kickstart their metabolism for the day ahead. Finally, experts agree that eating a variety of colorful, antioxidant-rich plant foods is essential for mitochondrial health. It is important to stay away from high-glycemic and high-carb foods like sugar and white flour because they can put a lot of stress on your mitochondria, inhibiting your metabolic function.
If you are experiencing an extreme and uncharacteristic shift in metabolic rate, I recommend consulting a doctor before testing any of these strategies.