Have you ever known anyone who is overweight and seems to starve themselves and still not lose weight? Or an athlete who can’t seem to drop those last 5 pounds to achieve goal race weight?
I see this all the time in my practice. I work with active people who are struggling with their diet, weight, and performance goals. I help people design a nutrition program and meal plan that allows them to eat healthy, achieve weight goals, increase metabolism, decrease body inflammation and risk of injury, and enhance energy and athletic performance. I understand weight loss can be very frustrating. Calories in, calories out, right? But why is it that some people exercise two hours a day and eat close to nothing yet still can not lose weight? Or why athletes who run 60 miles a week can’t drop another 5 measly pounds before the big day?
Well, it can be a number of factors, but one most certain factor is that their metabolism has, shall we say, been put to rest for a while. It needs to be re-ignited, and I am going to show you how to fire it back up.
"The reality is that everyone should strength train to build more muscle mass. More muscles, more burn!"
Factors that affect your metabolic rate
Age: Metabolism decreases with age. This is because you lose muscle mass as you age, and muscles burn calories.
Sex: I mean man or woman! Men have more muscle mass; therefore, they burn more calories in a day and have a faster metabolism than the average woman. The reality is that everyone should strength train to build more muscle mass. More muscles, more burn!
Food: High quality foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals can boost your metabolism, while poor quality foods, such as foods with trans fats, can actually slow down your metabolism. Learning WHAT foods to include and when is something I am always educating my clients on.
Food Timing: The amount of food you consume at a time also affects your metabolic rate. This is why I always include 4-5 equal calorie meals a day in all my client meal plans. You’ll never feel hungry, and you’ll burn calories more efficiently. Your body can process the smaller portions more quickly, and this will help stabilize blood sugar.
Protein: Adding the right kinds of high-quality protein to your diet enhances your metabolism by stabilizing insulin secretion. Insulin is major factor in how your body utilizes energy.
Exercise: Sedentary people have lower oxygen levels in their blood, which slows down the metabolic process. Food timing with respect to exercise is crucial.
Breakfast: If you wait until lunch to eat, you’ve deprived your body of energy for over half a day. This sends your body into starvation mode, which means it stores any incoming calories as fat. Include protein at breakfast every day, along with a good carbohydrate source. This balances blood sugar levels and helps keep you full longer.
Sleep: Studies have shown that women who get less than five hours of sleep per night are more likely to experience major weight gain than women who slept at least eight hours per night. Take care of yourself, and your engine will thank you.
Low glycemic fruits and veggies: These foods enter your bloodstream slower; therefore, you will not have insulin spikes, like you would if you ate very high glycemic foods. This must be planned with training in mind and is something I am constantly helping my athletes manage.
Fiber: A diet high in fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates and supports a healthy GI tract.
Healthy fats (Omega, polyunsaturated, and coconut oils): Healthy fats provide slow absorbing energy that makes you full faster and keeps you feeling full longer. They can actually help you increase fat burning, improve blood sugar control, correct insulin resistance, and reduce inflammation. All very important in metabolism. Healthy fats are not only okay; they are recommended.
Bedtime: Don’t eat anything before bedtime, especially carbohydrates. Your metabolic rate slows as the day goes on. Get the most out of your nutrition by eating a really good breakfast and lunch. Eating too much at night leads to fat storage.
Water: Drink two cups of water before your meals. Research has shown that you can boost your metabolism by drinking two cups of water fifteen minutes before eating.
Eat Something: Do not starve yourself! Most people who decide to get serious about losing weight think that dramatically cutting calories is the best way to go. This couldn’t be more wrong. When you reduce your calorie consumption quickly, your body thinks that you are going through a famine. Your metabolism thinks you’re starving, and it treats every meal like it might be your last. Nutrients are stored as fat cells.
Vitamins and Minerals for Your Metabolism
Vitamins and minerals don’t directly provide your body with energy, but they are vital to the metabolic process.
Here are some of the most important vitamins and minerals which affect metabolism:
B Vitamins: They play an essential role in the way your body metabolizes carbohydrates and fat. It is used in the chemical break-down of carbohydrates, protein, and fat into useable energy. All very important to metabolism. Vitamin B12 aids in new cell synthesis and facilitates in fatty acid and amino acid break down.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): Vitamin C is active in amino-acid metabolism and is needed to build many essential metabolic enzymes.
Iron: This mineral is a part of your blood protein, hemoglobin, and helps with oxygen transport.
Chromium: Associated with insulin, chromium is required in trace amounts to get energy from glucose. Eat more nuts and seeds everyday. Many times this is hard to get through food alone. Make sure your vitamin supplement contains Chromium.
Carbohydrate and Calorie Cycling
Altering your carbohydrate and calories intake throughout the week based on your exercise regime, weight loss, and performance goals can lead to huge, positive results.
Day one: A longer, harder workout day. Consume higher calories and higher carbs.
Day two: An easy recovery day. Consume lower calories and lower carbs.
Day three: An easy recovery day. Consume lower calories and lower carbs.
Day four: A longer, harder workout day. Consume higher calories and lower carbs
And so on, depending on the goals and training schedule of the athlete.
Let it burn!