Trick your Way to Slimness

Eat food that boosts your metabolic rate.
By Kalpana M Nagano
Understanding metabolism
Metabolism is the continuous series of life-sustaining chemical reactions that take place within every cell of our body. These chemical reactions allow the organs in our body to grow and reproduce, maintain and nourish their structures, and adapt to the environment that we live in. The process of food digestion, absorption of oxygen into the blood and the giving out of carbon dioxide are examples of metabolic reactions. Thus we can also define metabolism as all the activities and chemical reactions that take place within the body, which helps the body absorb nutrients and expend energy.

Metabolism is of two types: Catabolism – breaking down of organic matter and harvesting energy by the way of cellular respiration; and anabolism – which is the use of energy to construct components of cells, such as proteins and nucleic acids. It can, therefore, be safe to say that the nourishment we give to our body and the oxygen we breathe hold extreme importance for our existence.

Metabolic rate

The metabolic rate is the rate at which metabolism occurs in our body. It is dependent upon the physical attributes of the body, the body mass and its composition of water, fat and muscle mass. If a person is fat attributing to the weight from muscle mass, fat mass or water in the body; the metabolic rate of the said person would be higher. While muscles require calories to maintain mass, fat mass has no such requirement. Therefore, people are advised to build muscle mass so that they can achieve a higher metabolic rate. Weight-loss can be achieved by cutting out the calorie intake, thereby reducing fat mass content.

Is gym a requisite?

Do we need to hit the gym to increase our muscle mass? The gym is a great place to exercise, as the machines you work on indicate the number of expended calories. The environment of a gym is vibrant and helps encourage one to exercise. But not all of us have the luxury of the time to go to a good gym, so a walk in the park can be just as good an alternative.

There are some exercises which help build muscle mass using the body’s weight itself rather than using conventional weights at the gym. One can, however, invest a small amount on dumbbells and learn a few exercises to do at home with them.

Some other exercises that can be done at home include: push-ups, squats, crunches and using the stairs to do a few step-on and step-offs. The stretch exercises that yoga offers can be beneficial as well. In fact, a combination of cardio, weight training and stretching is the best combination for exercising. Throw in some pranayama, and nothing can be better for the mind, body and soul.

Metabolism boosting foods

Dieticians have realised that there are certain foods like foods with vitamin D, fish eggs, soya, tofu and mushroom that can increase the metabolic rate. Cabbage, broccoli, asparagus and spinach are light in calories, carry a lot of fibre and can help in weight-loss. Green tea and coffee are rich in antioxidants like polyphenols, which are good for health and can also help to lose weight. Calcium-rich foods can help the body metabolise fat; so one should go for skimmed milk and yoghurt. The Omega 3 fatty acid from fish is a metabolic booster and also protects the heart. Iron-rich lentils enable the body to carry more oxygen, and good oxygen flows through the body ups the metabolic rate. Nuts and dry fruits are powerhouses for nutrients and have a thermic effect on the body. To digest these foods, the body will have to burn more fat in the process, which aids in weight loss.

So, the idea here is to trick your body into weight-loss. First, let us understand how our body thinks. It is the body’s job to take in the nutrients and use it for growth. Whenever the body gets an excess of anything nutrient, it throws out the excess in the form of waste. But, at the same time, the body thinks that it should store some for the future. This is when the body becomes a store and we begin to put on weight.

Losing weight is difficult. Therefore, we must understand how the body works. Instead of going on a strict diet, we can consume foods that will help us lose some weight. Milk should not be completely avoided as the calcium in it aids weight-loss. Metabolic booster vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and spinach should be included alternatively to afford change and variety. Eggs are thermic as well and burn a lot of calories during digestion. Green tea acts as a metabolic rate booster, so a cup of green tea will refresh you and help in weight-loss.

The mind requires 20 minutes to feel full; so eat slowly, chew well and add a lot of salad to your diet. Eating fruits can also help, as they raise the sugar level instantly in the body and the mind is tricked to feel that it is full. Drinking half a glass of fresh fruit juice half an hour before a meal will also help you eat less.

Triggers that slow your metabolism and make you put on weight

Diseases like hypothyroidism can slow down metabolism. The thyroid is the master of metabolism. It is therefore important to keep your thyroid levels in check if you have unexplained weight gain. See the doctor and take medication if hypothyroidism ails you.

Stress can also slow down your metabolism. It can cause an increased release of cortisol in the body, which in turn increases the appetite and a sense of lethargy. This compels people to over-eat. This problem can be avoided by stress-busting exercises. Walking and running help release endorphins (the feel-good hormone that negates the effect of cortisol).

Lack of sleep causes a spike in the sugar levels as carbohydrates do not get metabolised. So, the body tells itself to store the energy and begins to hoard fat. Over-eating can also slow down the metabolism. Medications like; antidepressants, hormone tablets, steroids and diabetic pills can also trigger a change in metabolism and cause obesity.

There are some health conditions which can slow down metabolism. Eating too little – less than 1200 calories – and a lack of exercise can also trigger a slowdown in metabolism. So keep your metabolism intake to more than 1200 calories, exercise at home, eat food that boosts the metabolic rate and you may trick your body into a faster weight-loss. Go girl go!