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The 7 Keys to Maximizing Your Metabolism

Brian Calkins - NSCA-CPT, ACE | Cincinnati, Ohio

I hear the word "Metabolism" nearly every day. Most people who use the word are upset or frustrated over a perceived "slow metabolism" or maybe they are comparing their metabolism to a friend's, spouse's or their own metabolism when they were 19 years old. Today, let's clear up some misconception regarding metabolism and empower you to take charge of your own!

Factors which influence metabolism include genetics, age, gender, activity level, food intake and body composition. Although you cannot change your parents, age or gender, you do have complete and total control over the majority of the factors of metabolism.

Below are 7 keys to help you take control of your metabolism to allow you to live a healthier, fitter and more productive life!

1. Work All of the Muscles of Your Body! As we increase our lean muscle tissue, we burn more calories throughout the day, both during activity and at rest. You don't have to look like a bodybuilder to elevate your metabolism through adding lean, toned and shapely muscle tissue.

2. Eat Small Meals Frequently! To stoke your metabolism you need to fuel your body (in other words, you need to eat!) every 3 to 4 hours with a balanced intake of lean proteins, whole grain and fibrous carbohydrates. Going too long between meals will substantially drop your blood glucose, reduce your body's ability to use calories efficiently and lead to food cravings.

3. Increase Your Non-Exercise Activity! Let's face it; we are a terribly sedentary society that desperately needs to get moving. Instead of circling the parking lot several times vying for the closest parking space, walk a little farther. In lieu of using the elevator take the steps. Take an evening walk with a friend, spouse or child before eating dinner - it'll burn some calories, suppress your appetite, and elevate metabolism a bit.

4. Vary Your Cardio! Some days you'll do a moderate intensity, steady state cardio session for 30 minutes. Other days you'll perform 18 minutes of staggered cardio intervals in a ratio of 3 minutes steady state, 1 minute sprints. And sometimes you'll go for 45 minutes at a lower level of intensity. Vary your cardiovascular routine to continue providing adaptation to your heart and lungs, improving your ability to deliver nutrients and oxygen to all of the cells of your body and to optimally elevate your metabolism.

5. Drink Water, Not Calories! Studies show that when you are well hydrated you consume fewer calories. Similarly, when you consume calories from solid food, your brain effectively registers appropriate satiation and reduces hunger. But when you consume calories from liquids, your appetite isn't satisfied so you end up eating more. In a culture of 800-calorie Big Gulps and 580-calorie White Chocolate Mochas, pick water as your beverage of choice.

6. Chill Out! We live in a highly "stressed out" over stimulated world. Too much stress leads to significant increases in the hormone cortisol, which in turn causes your body to store extra fat. To counteract the demands of society, schedule a 20 minute daily power nap during your hour lunch, learn meditation and visualization relaxation skills or listen to calming music. Exercise is one of the most effective stress reducers and, of course, it's already on today's list for elevating metabolism. Regardless, take regular breaks from the maddening word in which we live today.

7. Take Responsibility! If we are to make changes, we must start by accepting full responsibility for where we are. No one else is to blame for our current circumstances - not our parents, spouse, co- workers or past experiences. You are where you are today because of decisions you've made in the past. You have complete control over what goes in your mouth and how much exercise and movement you achieve each day. So start where you are today and begin to integrate habits that will allow you a more enjoyable, productive, healthier and fitter life.

Let's get started today!