Weekly Wellness: How can I speed up my metabolism?
COLUMBIA — We hear about it all the time. We worry about if ours is slow and wish it were faster. But what is it? What is metabolism?
Metabolism is a term that is used to describe all chemical reactions involved in maintaining the living state of the cells and the organism. Metabolism can be divided into two categories:
- Catabolism - the breakdown of molecules to obtain energy
- Anabolism - the synthesis of all compounds needed by the cells
Metabolism is closely linked to nutrition and the availability of nutrients. Metabolism relies upon the breakdown of nutrients to produce energy. This energy in turn is required by the body to synthesize new proteins, nucleic acids (DNA, RNA) etc.
Essential nutrients supply energy (calories) and supply the necessary chemicals which the body itself cannot synthesize. Food provides a variety of substances that are essential for the building, upkeep, and repair of body tissues, and for the efficient functioning of the body.
The major dietary elements that your body needs are supplied in carbohydrates, protein, and lipids (fats).
Carbohydrates: your body receives carbohydrates in three forms: starch, sugar, and cellulose (fiber). Starches and sugars form major and essential sources of energy for humans. Fibers contribute to bulk in diet. Glucose is necessary as fuel for the body to perform many activities.
Most people consume around half of their diet as carbohydrates. This comes from rice, wheat, bread, potatoes, pasta, macaroni etc.
Proteins: these are the main tissue builders in the body. They are part of every cell in the body. Proteins help in cell structure, functions, enzymes to carry out vital reactions and a myriad of other functions in the body. Proteins are also vital in supplying nitrogen for DNA and RNA genetic material and energy production. Foods with the best quality protein are eggs, milk, soybeans, meats, vegetables, and grains.
Fats: these are our concentrated sources of energy. They produce twice as much energy as carbohydrates or protein (on a weight basis). Fats perform important bodily functions such as forming the cellular structure; forming a protective cushion and insulation around vital organs; helping absorb fat soluble vitamins; and providing a reserve storage for energy. Essential fatty acids include unsaturated fatty acids like linoleic, linolinic, and arachidonic acids.
It is believed that the faster your metabolism, the easier it is to lose weight. But you can't solely blame your metabolism for the inability to lose weight or for weight gain. Metabolism is a natural process and there are MANY other factors.
With that said, these are some suggested natural ways you can try to speed up your metabolism:
1. Hot peppers: The compound capsaicin that gives chili peppers their kick has long been connected with boosting metabolism and curbing cravings.
2. Whole grains: Whole grains offer loads of dietary fiber and complex carbs that help speed up your metabolism. Just make sure to reach for real whole grains; don't be blinded by pretty multigrain packages.
3. Coffee: Caffeine "naturally" stimulates your central nervous system; your daily cup of coffee can boost metabolism by five to eight percent.
4. Vinegar: Vinegar has a ton of health properties including the ability to burn fat. Studies indicate that it's the acid in vinegar that signals genes in the body to break down fat. It's especially useful to enjoy vinegar after you eat refined carbs, since it manages your blood-sugar levels from rising too quickly.
5. Citrus: Chowing down on citrus favorites burn fat and keep your metabolism in check. The next time you need a snack, grab a grapefruit or orange to keep insulin levels at bay.
6. Spices: Spices are one of the easiest foods to incorporate to keep your metabolic rate high! The most pungent spices like turmeric and cinnamon do the best job at kicking up your body's temperature, speeding up your body's fat burning process.