When I was a eight year old tomboy with twig legs and arms, scoffing five meals a day as well as an array of chocolate, sweets and cake, my mum always said kids have a “fast metabolism”. Even now, when people ask me the secret to being slim, after explaining that I eat well and exercise I always slip in that I’m naturally quite small anyway with a fast metabolism. But what does that actuallymean? I always imagined it like an engine – the more fuel you put in, the faster you go, and the more you burn the fuel. Obviously it’s a little more complicated than that, but I’ll save you from scientific jargon – it’s basically the rate that we burn calories. Some of us have fast metabolisms meaning they can gorge on junk and never puts on weight (not that ANYONE should be eating junk) while the other half of us have to really watch what we way to save the pounds from piling on. “Some people are just fast burners”, say Dr Carina Norris, a nutritionist and author of You Are What You Eat. “Metabolism depends on age, sex, and genes. But with exercise, and clever food and drink tricks, it is possible to speed up your rate.”
“Your body needs to be hydrated to keep your metabolism burning,” says Dr Norris. Ice cold water will force your body to warm up and burn a calorie for every degree it heats it. Caffeine, although questionable in other areas of health, is a stimulant, thought to increase metabolic rate by up to 5% for two whole hours after drinking!
Decrease fat intake.
“Fatty foods slow down the calorie burning part of our cells – cut back and you could burn 16% more calories for up to three hours after each meal!” says Dr Neal Barnard, author of 21-Dat Weight Loss Kickstart. “Go for veggie options to cut out animal fat – chickpeas over chicken, beans over beef, and fat free dressing for salads.”
Resistance training – so adding weights to your lunges or squats as well as arm reps, etc, boosts your metabolic rate by 15% as it increases muscle which in turn burns nine times more calories that fat,” says fitness expert Laura Williams. Interval training is an excellent metabolism booster too, as it requires the body to actually work and change temperature and heat rate.
I know this can be a difficult one because of many priorities such as work or children, but if you have a busy schedule try going to bed earlier and waking up earlier. This will stop the late night snacking, but sleep itself burns calories! Just one night of disturbed sleep slows calorie burn by up to 20% the next day according to new research. Sleeping well also improves skin and mood – no excuse!
Carbs before Marbs.
One fitness myth that really irritates me is that you must cut carbs to lose weight, which is complete rubbish. Good carbs actually aid weight loss and health. “Carbs produce the glucose your cells need to function properly,” says Dr Bernard, as well as giving you masses of energy and fibre. Instead of cutting carbs, swap the bad for the good. Swap white oil laden carbs for brown rice, wholewheat pasta and wholegrain bread (or even wheat/gluten free bread, which is a God send) , rye and oats.
DO NOT Crash Diet.
As I have said before, this is one of the worst things you can possibly do in order to lose weight or be healthy. Restrictive diets send the body into starvation mode, making it cling onto every little calorie. Metabolic rate is highest in the morning after a good nights sleep – research shows that eating a good sized, healthy breakfast will boost your metabolism by 10% for the rest of the day. My go-to breakfast is Porridge cooked with water with a banana, berries and cinnamon on top
Remember people, metabolism is not an area you want to mess around with, we at LDNM don’t advocate or ever recommend extreme diets. All our LDNM Guides focus on safe, sustainable diets that place your long term health as the highest priority.