If you want to lose weight, just consume fewer calories than you burn. It’s that simple, right? Well, sort of. And not really. The human body is a dizzyingly complicated thing. In a lot of ways, we’re just now starting to get a solid grip on how a lot of its essential processes work. How, exactly, the body accumulates and discards fat is a topic that is notoriously contested, both in medical literature and in the popular dialogue about how to stay fit. One factor that should be paid attention to in any such conversation is metabolism – metabolism largely determines just how easy it will be for you to shed fat and keep it shed. And if you follow these tips, you stand to make your metabolism your weight loss ally.
Everyone’s metabolism is slightly different. And our metabolism changes as we age. When we gain weight, have feelings of anxiety, or lapse into a sedentary lifestyle, our metabolism can fluctuate to adapt. Ideally, you want your metabolism fully-charged, helping you to burn calories even when you’re not exercising.
The best advice is the obvious advice: stay active. Whether you’re training for an Olympic lifting meet or just taking regular strolls around your neighborhood, incorporating physical activity into your daily life is absolutely essential for maintaining good health, and a healthy metabolism.
Another easy (and tasty) way to boost your metabolism is to eat breakfast every morning. When you wake up, your body is in a “fasted” state, meaning it hasn’t had any caloric input since you ate before sleep. Assuming you didn’t eat any midnight snacks, that is. In a fasted state, you burn more calories than after you eat. For this reason, some fitness gurus encourage people to hold the fast until lunchtime. Intermittent fasting, i.e. deliberately not eating for periods of time every day, or a select number of days a week, does have potential health benefits. Some impressive ones, even. But it also comes with a potential price tag in the form of boosted cortisol levels and lowered metabolism.
If you eat breakfast, your body will be more active than if you fast. Your body will communicate with your brain to signal satiety, meaning you will not only have a more active metabolism, but also a reduced incidence of food cravings for the rest of the day.
So what about exercise? Strength training may be very effective in boosting metabolism. If you associate weight lifting with meatheads, you may be missing out on what your body really needs. Weight training, especially when it incorporate heavy compound movements like squats, deadlifts and presses, can do wonders not only for your appearance but also for your metabolism. And when you have bigger muscles, they burn more calories passively.
For cardio, there is reason to believe that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can improve metabolism. HIIT involves periods of “high intensity” exercises, punctuated by short rest periods. It is currently very popular, and many people think it confers the same benefits as a sustained-state cardio session in a shorter amount of time.
However you choose to structure your eating and exercising, something is almost always better than nothing. If you’re spending an inordinate amount of time sitting at a desk or laying in bed, do your body a favor and get moving.