It’s a statistic that we want to see changed - most people who lose weight will go on to regain it, and will often end up heavier than before. Current figures suggest that only 15 – 20 % of dieters manage to keep the weight off for two years.
Weight loss is big business and fad diets are attractive for consumers because they promise a quick fix. The reality however is that there is no quick fix to achieving an ideal weight. In fact, fad diets can often make the problem worse. Stepping away from a normal diet by severely restricting calories and eating ‘diet’ foods can seriously slow your metabolism and this is a big problem where weight is concerned. The holy grail of successful weight loss revolves around fostering a speedier metabolism instead.
The way forward involves making a series of small changes to your diet and lifestyle that are realistic, achievable and will last for good. That means no ‘dieting’ in the traditional sense – just good wholesome food that’s organized in a specific way to support gradual weight loss.
Many people talk about having a ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ metabolism without really understanding what it means. The metabolic rate is the speed at which the chemical reactions that allow cells to release energy from food take place. The higher your metabolic rate the easier you will find it to maintain a healthy weight. This rate varies due to several factors:
• Gender – male or female
• Body composition (proportion of muscle to fat in the body)
• Exercise & physical activity
• Metabolism-boosting foods & phytonutrients
And whilst you can’t (easily) change your age or gender, you certainly can change your body composition, the amount of exercise you do and whether or not you include metabolism-boosting foods in your diet.
How To Improve Your Metabolic Rate:
• Exercise regularly – The metabolic rate increases as we exercise and stays high for a while afterwards. Exercise also helps to improve body composition (muscle: fat ratio), which in turns speeds up the metabolic rate.
• Balance your blood sugar – Changing your diet to support blood sugar balance is key to improving body composition, which in turn will speed up your metabolic rate. Focus on a diet based on fresh, wholefoods including plenty of high quality protein (lean meat, chicken, fish, peas, beans, lentils, soy, tofu) and healthy fats (oily fish, nuts, seeds and their oils) with every meal and snack. For blood sugar balance it is important to eat regularly. Eat breakfast within an hour of getting up and then every 2-3 hours throughout the day.
• Relax – Stress can promote fat storage in the body and thus have a negative effect on body composition. Incorporate regular stress-busting exercises into your week such as yoga and mindfulness meditation. In addition, you can support a more relaxed sense of wellbeing by supplementing with nutrients such as magnesium (often nicknamed nature’s tranquiliser), B vitamins, vitamin C, L-theanine, L-taurine and L-glutamine.
• Choose Metabolism-Boosting Foods – Some foods can help to give the metabolism a temporary boost; particularly hot, spicy foods such as chilli peppers. Green tea is also reported to have metabolism-boosting powers and is rich in natural antioxidants too, so is a great alternative to the standard builders’ brew. Add a few mugs of green tea and some spicy dishes into your week for an extra metabolic boost.
• Supplement with Metabolism-Boosting Phytonutrients – Green Coffee Extract, Green Tea Extract, Capsicum and Black Pepper Extract have all been shown to help with a temporary boost of metabolism. Choose these ingredients concentrated in supplement form for enhanced effects.