Wouldn’t it be great if you could burn fat all day long instead of just during your exercise session? Research shows that there are some proven strategies to increase your metabolic rate and burn fat for longer periods throughout the day. To understand how metabolic rate can be increased, we must first understand normal glucose and insulin metabolism. After a meal, blood sugar increases and triggers an increase in insulin. This sends a signal for sugar to be taken up into muscle and fat cells until there is a drop in blood sugar. Many people have created a dysfunction in this system from over-consumption of carbohydrates (as simple sugars) and saturated fats, causing insulin to be more dominant. This is a signal for fat to be stored. In addition, chronic high stress situations release cortisol and other chemicals in the body that signal fat to be stored. This dysfunction is typically due to poor eating habits, physical inactivity, and stress. However, with some simple changes to your diet, exercise program, and lifestyle, anyone can rev up their metabolism and start burning more calories throughout the day.
- Eat enough of the right food in the right amount and right proportions. Doing this on a daily basis will help get your metabolic rate functioning correctly again and even speed it up. The right food means healthy, lean protein (chicken, wild salmon, tuna, egg whites), low glycemic index carbohydrates (oatmeal, whole-grain bread, apples, berries), and healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, almonds, sunflower seeds). The right amount means that you have calculated how many calories you need on a daily basis to maintain a healthy weight, and you are knowledgeable about portion sizes (the biggest culprit in weight gain!). The right proportions means balancing your meals with carbs, fat, and protein. A good ratio to start with is 40-50% carbohydrate, 30% protein (or 1 gram per pound of body weight), and 20-30% fat. Then space your meals evenly throughout the day as to maintain less fluctuation in your glucose and insulin levels. Five to six smaller meals a day is much healthier than 2-3 larger meals. Many people think that in order to lose weight they need to cut calories. Well, this may be true if you’re eating at McDonald’s every day and taking in twice the amount of calories you need on a daily basis. But for the average person, it’s not too many calories that is the problem – it’s not enough of the right kind of calories.
- Add strength training to your exercise routine. Strength training triggers your body’s release of growth hormone, which is essential for fat burning and increasing your metabolic rate. Numerous studies have shown that participating in a strength training session pumps up your metabolism for 2-3 hours post-exercise and sometimes even longer.
- Change up your aerobic exercise routine with interval training. The higher the exercise intensity, the greater amount of fat and carbohydrate burned during the exercise session. An added benefit of high intensity training is that more fat will be burned post-exercise during your recovery period. Instead of running for 30 minutes at 70% of your max heart rate, try interspersing one minute sprints. Sprint for one minute and slow to a light jog for two minutes. Repeat until reaching 30-45 minutes.
- Get enough sleep. All the benefits of the right diet and the right exercise program can be negated if you’re not getting enough sleep. Growth hormone is released while you sleep and is necessary for rebuilding muscle and many other important metabolic functions.
Add all these up and you’re on the right path for firing up that metabolic rate and burning more fat all day long!
Dr. Diane Hayden is the owner and publisher of Natural Nutmeg Magazine and Essential Living Maine Magazine and is an author, speaker, and workshop facilitator. She holds a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Connecticut, a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology from the University of Maryland and is an Empowerment Life Coach. For 20 years, her work has focused on inspiring people to learn about the power of thought and belief systems and how that shapes their lives. Her passion centers on helping men and women break the failed relationship cycle through her proprietary SPARK method. You can learn more about her online at https://naturalnutmeg.com/category/where-is-dr-di-travel/ or http://drdianehayden.com/.