By Sarah Sarway
There are few things in this world as misunderstood as the human metabolism (other than the Kardashians’ rise to fame, but that’s a topic for another post).
In short, your metabolism is responsible for breaking down all those avocado toasts, fruit smoothies, and grilled veggies you eat into energy to help power you through the day. The speed at which your body does this depends on your BMR, or basal metabolic rate. The lower your BMR, the slower your body will convert calories into energy, which can ultimately lead to weight gain.
Most people think that their BMR can’t be adjusted, encouraging them to “cheat the system” by cutting calories, skipping meals, or overdoing it in the gym. But that is totally not the case. Turns out, there’s a lot you can do (other than exercising and calorie-cutting) to accelerate your metabolism, helping you lose weight and stay fit.
We asked Beth Warren MS, RDN, CDN, author of Living Real Life With Real Food, to help clear up some of the basic misconceptions about basal metabolic rate. Here are her five tips for optimal metabolic health, including what you can do to help boost your metabolism—today.
1. Eating more fat won’t make you fat.
Good news, guacamole lovers! “Foods with great sources of fat give your body the fuel they need to run more efficiently,” says Warren, recommending foods rich in healthy fats, like almonds, walnuts, and avocados.
2. Lay off the processed junk.
“Choosing heavily processed foods, such as processed meats, does not give your body the quality nutrients it needs for your body to use efficiently, slowing down your metabolism,” she says. Swap out that ham sandwich for a grilled chicken lettuce wrap. You’ll nix unwanted chemicals from your food and help your metabolism run smoothly.
3. Never, ever skip lunch.
“Oftentimes, people are afraid to eat too much, thinking they will gain weight, but eating too little throughout the day does not give your body enough energy to burn, slowing down your metabolism.” Warren recommends eating breakfast 1 hour after waking up, and then eating small meals every 3 to 4 hours throughout the day.
4. Get moving!
Walking from the subway station to your office cubicle may not count, but that doesn’t mean you have to go to extremes to reap the benefits of fitness on a busy schedule (see: people who do 40 crunches, 20 jumping jacks, and a three-minute plank between conference calls). “About thirty minutes of moderate activity is enough,” she says.
5. Don’t skimp on sleep
“Sleep is a time for your body to clean its internal engine,” says Warren. “If you don’t sleep enough, cortisol, the stress hormone, increases, putting your body in a “storage” mode instead of a “burn” mode, which means your metabolism is slower as well.”
Feeling pumped up and ready to take control of your metabolism? Start with these tips for adding more healthy nuts into your diet.