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5 Ways to fire up your metabolism

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

Let’s start off by simply defining what metabolism means when it comes to the human body.

Metabolism is a process by which the human body converts the food and drinks ingested into energy. Our metabolism is affected by many things such as body fat percentage (weight), food (overall diet) quantity & quality, activity levels, age, gender, height, and genetics just to name a few.

By understanding that metabolism is affected by more than just body weight (weight loss) can explain why weight loss doesn’t always equate to a faster metabolism or better health. Meaning that you can lose some weight but you may not feel better, function better physically, and can continue to have internal issues such as digestive problems, blood sugar issues, or even become skinny fat (this could mean elevated cortisol levels and low testosterone levels).

When it comes to having a “fast metabolism” and overall better health you must realize there are principles that apply to everyone but within each principle it will look different for each person depending on things such as the person's lifestyle, individual goals, and current state of health.

Here are 5 tips (principles) that you can incorporate into your life to help fire up your metabolism (improve your overall health):

Create A Normalized Sleep Routine

I think we can all agree that when we’re not getting sleep we are not our best selves and when it comes to making good choices whether that food choices or making decisions for our business and personal lives they’re normally not the best when we’re constantly sleep deprived. Even though its glorified in are society to not sleep there’s beginning to be a shift. We’re starting to see more books, articles, and videos surfacing around showing the importance of getting quality sleep. Ideally you want to get 7-9 hours of sleep on a regular basis. Sleep doesn’t get the respect it should because we’re taught in American culture that you don’t get something for nothing so we feel we have to work out harder and go harder in our businesses, but sleep is the place where things like improvement in memory, our bodies ability to regenerate and burning body fat takes place. But, we must get consistent quality sleep for these things to take place properly.

Sleep Tip:

  1. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep consistently

  2. Go to sleep by 11pm to honor our circadian rhythm and sleep processes that need to take place

  3. Keep your sleep environment dark (use black out shades); light disrupts your circadian rhythm

  4. Turn off tech devices/bright lights (avoid bluelight) 45-60 minutes before bed.

  5. Abstain from drinking alcohol at least 4 hours before bed; alcohol disrupts are sleep cycles causing sleep quality to go down. You can sleep 8 hours and not go through full sleep cycles which will affect you overtime.

Effective Nutrition Plan

When it comes to nutrition it’s not about there being “good food” or “bad food”. We eat a diet not a single food. There are only effective diets and non-effective diets. Your diet isn’t effective if you're constantly struggling with your health (low energy levels, mood, poor sleep quality, excessive body fat, poor health biomarkers like blood sugar, blood pressure, etc). A simply way to think about how to construct your nutrition plan is to look at:

  1. Quality and Quantity of the food you’re eating (nutrients as well as the calories of food you eat)

  2. Meal Timing - are you eating a structured diet because of the way your environment has taught you - breakfast, lunch, and dinner or are you listening to your body and following a plan based on your goals.

  3. Fluid Intake - Water is involved in every process in your body and can slow your metabolism down by almost 40% if you’re chronically dehydrated. Rule of thumb - aim to drink ½ your bodyweight (lbs) in ounces of water a day.

Last, but most important point when it comes to nutrition you must know the type of person you are when it comes to making changes. Are you someone who thrives on gradual change that happens slowly over time or are you someone who rips the band-aid off and starts a clean slate. Knowing how you handle change is super important when it comes to making changes because it’s one thing to do something and have some success at a particular moment (example 30 day weight loss program), it’s another thing to be able to sustain that success and continue to progress. I see a lot of people dive into diets and programs that don’t fit their current lifestyle to only return back to where they started. (and sometimes end up in a worse place after being off the plan for a while). Consistency, flexibility, and sustainability are what you want with your plan.

Resistance Training (Relative) 2-3x Per Week

When most people think of resistance training they think of the guy in the gym deadlift or squatting hundreds of pounds. However, there are many other ways to do resistance training. You can lift barbells, cables, dumbbells, bands, and even your own bodyweight. I’ve trained many clients and we don’t touch a barbell or dumbells and they’ve seen some great progress. You want to make sure you incorporate compound movements into your program; squats, deadlifts (hip hinge), lunges, pressing overhead and pressing horizontal, rowing, pulling, and anti-rotation (planks and variations). You want the majority of your training to be these compound movements for two reasons:

  1. Our bodies expect us to do these things as humans, they're known as general motor programs.

  2. By using compound movements as the major portion of your training, you’re able to work more muscle groups which stimulates your metabolism more than spot treating the body by doing crunches and bicep curls. You can do these single joint movements, but you want the majority of your training to consist of compound movements.

Everyone has abdominal muscles or the ability to have a flat stomach, you release the fat covering them by maximizing your metabolism through compound movements (and effective nutrition).

Incorporate HIIT Training 1-2x Per Week

Incorporating high intensity interval training into your weekly routine has major benefits on your metabolism and overall health:

HIIT increases the size and number of mitochondria within skeletal muscle. You can think of your mitochondria as the place where your “metabolism takes place.” It’s the place where the majority of your energy is produced. (fats and carbohydrates are burned). HIIT turns on a master switch called PGC-1 alpha increasing both mitochondria density as well as oxidative-enzyme activity increasing the metabolic function of your skeletal muscle, meaning more efficient fat burning. Also HIIT has another major benefit - increasing excess postexercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) meaning your bodies in a state of burning more calories than normal after the training making up for oxygen debt caused during the workout. This can last up to 48 hours.

You can incorporate a HIIT workout during resistance training by setting up time intervals (10-30 second all out exercise with 30-90 seconds rest;12-20 minutes of work). You can also incorporate HIIT by doing sprint intervals or HIIT bike intervals. You want to get your heart rate between 75-83% of your max heart. If you have heart conditions contact your doctor before incorporating this type of training into your program.

Move Often Outside Of A Training Setting

We have cars, refrigerators, phones, ipads, TVs, Uber, DoorDash, segways, and the list goes on of conveniences. Being sedentary has become the new norm. But, in order to truly get the most out of your metabolism you have to move throughout the day outside of a training session. If you train for an hour 4-5x out the week but spend the rest of your day at your office desk or in the car are you really that much more active than the sedentary person who spends all day playing video games?

10,000 steps is a minimum for our bones to get enough loading to avoid osteoporosis! I don’t have stats, but I can almost guarantee that most people aren’t hurting their backs and have “bad knees” because they were squatting or playing rough sports like football. The majority of people are dealing with chronic pain because they don’t move enough. According to physical therapist Shirley A. Sahrmann, a posture shouldn’t be sustained for longer than an hour based on the effects of sustained forces acting on the body. Set a 30-60 minute movement alarm when you’re at your desk, then perform jumping jacks, burpees, high knees, work on mobility or stretch. Movement is a principle of life. All living things are in motion. MOVE!

If you found value in this article please share it.

Thank you for reading!

In health,

Wendell Christian Jr.

After completing his graduate studies in Exercise Physiology/Adult Fitness at the University of Akron, Wendell began cultivating his own training methodologies toward improving the performance of the human body that go beyond just training in the gym. He has a creative approach toward functional training that integrates stability and performance ensuring the programs are efficient and help his clients become successful whether it's in their sport or life. Other benefits revolve around his vast knowledge of nutrition and the importance of rest and recovery. He's constantly studying and learn new things in order to better serve his clients.

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