Make Your Metabolism Burn Like a Wood Stove

From the March 11, 2009 edition of The Lancaster News

As a professional trainer, I’m often approached about weight loss or effective ways to gain lean muscle. I can be honest or give a really quick infomercial sales pitch. Sorry, the sales pitch isn’t my style. However, there some great ways to incorporate some simple foods into your diet to increase your metabolism to burn more calories throughout the day.

There are sorts of proper ways to lose weight, but the best methods are both safe and effective. In fact, I follow many of the very same tips in my own diet that I use when designing nutrition programs for my clients. Moderation, timing and consistency are the foundation.

You can start by moving more often.

This sounds simple, but it’s something many of us don’t do often enough. First, create an environment that starts the internal process for the body to require more oxygen.

One of the easiest ways is to add 20 minutes of brisk walking to your daily schedule. This can be done first thing in the morning or late in the evening. I recommend both, but for starters you may want to choose one. As you get into shape, you may want to change the walk to a jog and a jog to a sprint. You can also increase your duration. This brisk walk is the set up and starting point for your metabolism for the rest of the day.

Why is a brisk walk important?

This forces the body into excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) mode, which elevates the body’s metabolism after exercise. That way, you are technically burning even more calories after exercising. You may not realize it, but when you’re driving to work, you are burning calories, and when sitting at a work desk, you are burning calories. Even if you are just relaxing and watching TV, you are burning calories.

That’s why it’s so important not only to eat right, but to add movement to your regimen as well. I recommend adding another form of specific resistance training or strength training to your program. Quality lean muscle mass has a significant effect on an efficient metabolism rate. All of this helps to dramatically increase your metabolism.

Now that we know what to do to get the process going, you need to eat in a way to make sure your metabolism stays in check. The walking and strength training starts the EPOC process. Think of your body as a wood-burning stove; to keep the fire blazing, you have to continue adding wood.

Metabolism isn’t much different. To keep your metabolism at a high level, you have to eat the right foods at the right time. You should eat the following foods as often as you can throughout the day: u High fiber/low carb foods – This includes acai berries, bananas, blue-berries, apples, lemons, tomatoes, strawberries, mangos, grapes, oranges, leeks, celery, avocado, acorn squash, broccoli, spaghetti squash, asparagus, cauliflower and just about any green leafy vegetable except iceberg lettuce. Remember, the greener the better. Try to eat as many raw servings as possible.

Beans, nuts and grains – This includes almonds, black beans, whole-wheat pasta and whole-wheat bread. There are other nut varieties that are good fiber sources, too. Another nutrition component that increases metabolism is protein. It is vital that you combine protein with carbohydrates and heart-healthy fatty acids.

All of these foods are more than metabolism boosters. They are packed with antioxidants and amino acids needed to maintain efficient metabolism. A good estimate for men to start their fiber intake is at about 30 to 38 grams per day. For women, a good estimate is about 25 grams per day. However, I recommend caution when increasing fiber intake. Start out slow. Ask your doctor where you should begin in order for your fiber intake to be at a safe level. Then, slowly boost it to get it where it should be.

There are many other factors that can be added into the equation of increasing your metabolism.

When you increase your activity to create EPOC and start eating more high-fiber foods, you are well on your way to transforming your body and feeling great.

Until next time, train hard and eat healthy!

– Fitness expert and bodybuilder Kennett Washington is president of Healing Strength Personal Training.