Have you ever noticed that as you get older, it gets harder to stay in shape?
In my early 20s, it was easy to lose a few centimetres of body fat. Now 10 years later, it takes just a little more effort to keep those centimetres at bay.
When it comes to fat loss, we’re talking about metabolism. In other words, the amount of energy (kilojoules) our body needs to maintain normal day to day functions like breathing, digestion, circulation, temperature and tissue repair. Our metabolic rate is the speed at which our body burns these kilojoules. Some of us are born with fast and efficient metabolisms, whilst others have sluggish ones. The important thing to remember is that no matter which type you have, it can always be controlled by managing your lifestyle and what you eat.
speeding things up
If you want a faaster metabolic rte, you should always eat a good breakfast. Your metabolism is higher in the mornings and slower later on, so it makes good sense to spread your kilojoule intake throughout the day rather than eating one huge meal at night as so many of us do.
Believe it or not, eating four or five small, healthy meals a day will keep your metabolic rate up. But make sure you eat medium to low GI (glycemic index) foods.
Glycaemic index is simply a ranking of foods according to their immediate effect on blood sugar levels. Eating lower GI foods will keep your blood sugars stable and leave you feeling satisfied for longer. Lower GI foods to include are foods such as beans and pulses, fruits such as apples, pears, berries, oranges, kiwi fruit, peaches and figs and most vegetables, including mushrooms, green beans, capsicum, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and salads.
Other foods to include are low-fat and low-sugar plain yoghurt, pasta, noodles, bran and oats. And by drizzling a little citrus (lemon, lime, grapefruit) or vinegar on to your foods you can lower the GI by as much as 30 per cent.
Some studies claim that certain foods can raise your metabolic rate and promote fat burning. Capsicum, green tea, hot chillies and hot mustard are claimed to be great metabolism boosters, as well as flaxseed which is important for efficiency.
The vitamin C in fruits and veg such as berries, citrus, kiwi, broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, melon, mango, red cherries and red grapes, also stimulate the production of an amino acid called carnitine that helps with fat metabolism. Calcium is also great for releasing hormones that break down fat; good sources include low-fat skim milk, cottage cheese, ricotta and yoghurt. Other sources include tinned salmon and sardines (include eating the soft bones), calcium fortified soy milks, juices, broccoli, bok choy, kidney beans, seeds and nuts.
What you must never do is starve yourself to lose weight. This will only slow your metabolism more and when you start to increase your food intake you’ll end up weighing more than you did at the start.
But remember, too, it’s not about watching the scales. It’s body fat we’re worried about not weight, as muscle weighs about four times more than fat.
Also be sure to keep hydrated with lots of water to keep your energy levels up and keep you from picking at food when you’re not hungry.
OK, now your food intake is sorted, it’s time to introduce that other great metabolism booster, exercise. It can boost your metabolism by 10 to 25 per cent up to 12 to 14 hours after a vigorous workout.
Exercising first thing in the morning before breakfast will result in a greater proportion of fat being used as fuel. This is partly due to our glycogen stores being partially depleted throughout the night. Exercise intensity is also important the fitter you become, as exercising at a higher intensity will deplete your glycogen stores at a faster rate and in turn encourage your body to use a higher percentage of fat. So forget the sleep in because this is the perfect time to put on your joggers and move. Weight training is also an important factor in increasing metabolic rate and one of the best ways to encourage your body to use more fat as fuel. Every kg of muscle burns 420 kilojoules per day compared to one kilogram of fat which burns only 17 kilojoules. So, now you have all the info, try these metabolism-boosting recipes.