Losing weight is one of the keys to beating your diabetes. One way to lose weight is by speeding up the number of calories your body burns in one day. But how can you boost your metabolism to lose weight?
Losing weight is one of the vital things you need to do in order to control your diabetes. Some people, however, find it easier to lose weight than others. Such people are said to have a ‘faster metabolism’.
According to Wikipedia, metabolism is a set of chemical reactions that occur in living organisms in order to maintain life. In humans, these chemical reactions are fuelled by the food we eat.
So when people refer to a fast or slow metabolism they are generally referring to the average amount of calories their body burns in a day.
Speeding up this average will obviously help you lose weight. But how can you do that?
To answer this question we need to consider the three main factors that affect metabolism:
- Basal metabolic rate
- Physical activity
- Thermic effect of food
Basal metabolic rate
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy you use to perform the basic functions that keep you alive and ticking over.
For example, if you were to burn 900 calories by lying in bed all day, your BMR would be 900 calories a day.
You can estimate your BMR roughly by multiplying your weight in pounds by 14 if you are male and by 12 if you are female. For example, if you are male and weigh 150lbs your BMR will be about 2,100 calories. If you only know your weight in kilograms, first multiply it by 2.2 to convert it to pounds.
Of course you do a lot more than just ticking over. You walk, run, talk, argue, and lift things, and so on all day long. Your BMR usually accounts for about two-thirds of the calories you consume.
Your BMR is something you inherit from your ancestors so there is not much you can do to change it. However it is affected by a number of factors:
- Your muscles—building up your muscles can increase your BMR because maintaining muscles uses up more energy than maintaining fat.
- Dehydration—can lower you BMR a bit because dehydration can prevent your body from performing some basic functions.
- Weather—can influence your BMR as your body will use up additional calories warming you up or cooling you down.
- Vitamin or mineral deficiencies—can lower your BMR if the deficiencies are severe enough to stop your body from performing basic functions properly.
- Illnesses—some illnesses, such as thyroid problems, can significantly affect the way your body works and therefore influence your BMR.
The more physically active you are, the more calories you will burn. Physical activity accounts for at least a quarter of the calories you burn.
Thermic effect of food
The process of digestion uses energy. The thermic effect of food is the energy you use to digest, absorb and distribute nutrients.
Digestion uses up an average of about 10 percent of the calories you consume. However the thermic effect varies significantly depending on the component of food that is being digested.
For example, dietary fat is easy to process and has a low thermic effect, while protein is hard to process and has a much higher thermic effect. Foods that are high in fibre or that are spicy also have higher thermic effects.
Boosting your metabolism
Losing weight by boosting your metabolism is not the most effective way to control your diabetes. What and how much you eat would have a much greater influence over how much weight you gain or lose.
Your genes determine whether you have a fast or slow BMR. Men tend to burn more calories than women, even when resting. And your metabolism usually begins to slow down as you enter your fifth decade.
Even though the speed with which your body burns calories depends on your genetics, gender and age, there are several ways in which you can give your metabolism a bit of a boost:
The more muscles you have, the higher your BMR will be. This is because a pound of muscles uses about six calories a day just to maintain itself, while a pound of fat only burns two calories a day.
Thus building up your muscles through strength training can boost your average metabolic rate.
Note that if you go on a crash diet, you will probably lose muscle weight so the BMR boost you get from having plenty of muscles may be lost.
Though it does not build muscles, aerobic exercise can rev up your metabolism temporarily. High-intensity exercise delivers a bigger, longer rise in your resting metabolic rate than lower-intensity workouts.
Why not try a bit of jogging during your regular daily walks?
Your body needs water to process calories. Studies have shown that adults who drink eight glasses of water a day burn more calories than those who drink only four glasses.
So drink plenty of water.
You can ensure the adequacy of your intake of water by drinking water or another unsweetened drink before your meals, and by snacking on fresh fruit and vegetables which contain plenty of water.
Caffeine and other kickers
Caffeine increases the amount of energy your body uses. It can increase your endurance while you are exercising, help your concentration and make you feel less tired.
So sipping black coffee in moderation may give you a short-term boost to your metabolic rate, though I have not found any clinical evidence to support this suggestion.
You can combine caffeine with catechins by drinking green or oolong tea instead of coffee. Catechins are substances that have been shown to boost metabolism for a few hours.
There is research that suggests that drinking two to four cups of tea a day makes the body burn 17% more calories during moderately-intense exercise.
Energy drinks can undoubtedly give your metabolism a boost as they contain caffeine. Some energy drinks also contain taurine, an amino acid that can speed up your metabolism and help you burn fat.
In some people, however, energy drinks can cause high blood pressure, anxiety and disrupt sleep. In addition, they usually contain ingredients, such as sugar, that you should avoid in order to control your diabetes.
Thus you should treat them with extreme caution and read the labels thoroughly before drinking them.
When you eat large meals with many hours in between, your metabolism slows during the interim. Having smaller meals every three or four hours or so keep your metabolism cranked up so you burn more calories over the day.
In addition, several studies suggest that people who eat regular snacks eat less at formal mealtimes, thus reducing their overall intake.
Your body burns much more calories digesting protein than it does when you eat carbohydrates or fat. Thus eating protein-rich foods can thus boost your metabolism.
In fact, a study some years ago showed that, when eating a meal of pure protein, up to 25 percent of the calories consumed can be used during digestion and absorption.
Dietary fibre also has a high thermic effect. Eating foods high in fibre, such as whole-grains, means you are eating foods with a high glycemic index value, ie food that takes longer to digest, which reduces the spikes in blood glucose you experience after a meal.
Digesting fibre also uses up a lot of calories and can help boost your metabolism.
Spicy foods contain natural chemicals that can boost your metabolism, so eating foods containing added chilli pepper can boost your metabolic rate. However, the effect is probably only temporary.
While boosting your metabolism is possible, it does take some time and effort. But before you resort to the tricks mentioned in this article, you need to ensure that your basic diet has been designed to beat your diabetes.
Such a diet means focusing on natural, unprocessed food that is low in sugar, low in fat, low in salt, high in fibre and that has low GI (glycemic index) values. You must also avoid dairy products and eggs.
In addition, you should take a comprehensive vitamin and mineral supplement every day and drink plenty of water.