5 Ways to Hack Your Metabolism
Updated: Jan 20, 2022
Metabolism is a tricky concept, and improving it is not quite as simple as adding in a certain food or running 5 miles for a few weeks. If it were, I would certainly be out of a job. Fortunately, many of the variables that impact your metabolism are within your control and can be changed to enhance your body’s metabolic flexibility, which is your metabolism’s ability to efficiently switch between using carbohydrates or fats as a source of energy.When your metabolism is flexible, you are better able to burn fat instead of carbs, which can lead to weight loss. By focusing on metabolism instead of restrictive or unsustainable diets, you are more likely to lose weight and keep it off for good. Today I want to share with you my secret sauce for getting just that.
1) Start with adequate sleep.
Sleep is one of the most important factors to get in check for a healthy metabolism. Studies show that even mild sleep deprivation leads to changes in glucose metabolism and hormonal function. After a poor night’s sleep, have you ever noticed your cravings and appetite shift? That’s because leptin (your appetite suppressant) goes down, and an increase in ghrelin (hunger hormone) are thrown off making it even harder for you to stick to your nutrition plan.
So how do you optimize your sleep? Start winding down about an hour before you go to bed, which is optimally between 9 and 11 pm for restorative sleep that supports beneficial hormones like growth hormone (cell and tissue repair) and testosterone (muscle growth and energy). My favorite ways to wind down and set the stage for healthy sleep: avoid food after 8 pm, eliminate electronics 1 hour before bed, and create a routine that sets the stage for peaceful sleep. A book, a hot cup of chamomile tea, and lavender essential oils are a safe start here.
2) Eat nutritious foods, of course!
The key to a healthy metabolism is finding a nutrition plan that works for you, long term. Here are a few tips that every plan should take into account.
- Don't be too restrictive.
- Eat your veggies! The goal is 9 servings a day, bonus points for those that include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts for liver support.
- Don’t skimp on protein, an easy goal to set is half your body weight (lbs) in grams of protein. For example, a 150 lb female needs 75 grams of protein.
- Hydrate! At least 1/2 your body weight (lbs) in oz water daily. More if you are exercising. And no, alcohol and coffee do not count :)
- Balance blood sugar. It takes more energy for your body to break down complex carbs from sweet potatoes than it does from white bread. Utilize the thermic effect of food to your advantage and choose fiber and nutrient dense carbs over refined ones.
- Add some flavor with fat! This nutrient does not make you fat, it balances hormones, promotes satiety, and helps to stabilize blood sugar when combined with carbs. I love avocados, seeds, olives, and fatty fish.
3) It’s in your DNA
Genetics load the gun, but your environment is what pulls the trigger. Genetics play an integral role in metabolic functions. In fact, about 70% of your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is determined by genetics. However, physical activity, micronutrient status, caloric intake, and muscle mass also greatly impact metabolic rate - and you CAN do something about this. For example, the food you consume communicates with your DNA, and this can turn on or turn off the genes that could ultimately lead to metabolic disease or other health patterns.
Genetic testing is a great way to focus on the information that will give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to making progress. To learn more, schedule a call here.
4) Get moving!
The intensity, frequency, and duration of workouts can dramatically impact your body’s metabolic functions. More doesn’t always mean more here! Exercise right for your body. If you get a poor night’s sleep, look to restorative practices like yoga, walking and pilates to bring your body into balance. Running a marathon may increase cortisol even more, making it challenging to eat well and build muscle long term. HIIT at smaller durations - think 20-30 minutes, is a great way to fire up the heart rate, body temperature, and calorie burn to maximize metabolism and encourage muscle growth. As a result, you will burn more calories ALL day.
Even aerobic, or endurance exercise has its benefits. Incorporating moderate intensity endurance exercise a few days a week can increase the number of mitochondria in muscle cells, which again, will help your metabolism.
My advice- mix it up and do what you feels right.
5) Minimize stress.
I hope you now realize that a healthy metabolism requires so much more than good food and daily exercise. Chronic elevated stress can lead to a suboptimal metabolism and do a number on your health. Emotional stress doesn’t stay subjectively in your head, it creates physical stress on the body.
Removing bad habits like cigarettes and alcohol are a good start, but don’t neglect your mindset. Remove toxic relationships. Add in a practice to alleviate stress: meditation, yoga, massage, spend time outdoors, and focus on loved ones.
There are many variables that affect your metabolism, so don’t feel overwhelmed if you don’t know where to start. That’s what we are here for! If you are interested in learning more about your body with functional lab testing, or need some help building better habits - you are in the right space. Your team at Functional Nutrition of Wisconsin is well versed in Functional Nutrition that takes a whole systems approach to health. If you are interested in learning more about how we help women everyday, schedule your FREE Discovery Call here.