Winter Metabolism: Fueling the Fire

It's important to pay attention to metabolism especially during the winter months.  Although tempting to hibernate on those cold winter days, we want to keep that ‘fire’ burning efficiently throughout the day to avoid weight gain. Unfortunately, there are some factors that affect metabolism that we can’t do too much about such as age, genetics, hormones, gender and body size, however there are many things we can do to keep things moving along as they should. 

The following are some steps you can take to raise your metabolism. These tips not only help burn existing body fat, but help you burn extra calories before they get stored as body fat.

INCREASE ACITIVITY

One of the biggest things that block our metabolism is living a sedentary lifestyle. Cardio is essential to losing weight which will increase your metabolism; skiing, skating, snowshoeing, or taking a brisk winter walk are all great activity choices.

There are four things to consider with any aerobic exercise:

  1. The frequency of the sessions
  2. The intensity of the sessions
  3. The duration or length of time
  4. The type of exercise performed

When you alter one or two of these variables each time you exercise, you increase your metabolism because you are forcing your muscle cells to respond to a slightly different stimulus or stress. Aim for 30 minutes of activity each day. If you can't set aside time for a longer workout, try 10-minute chunks of activity throughout the day. 

 

EAT REGULARLY

Simply put, when we skip meals we inhibit our body’s ability to collect energy, blood sugar drops and metabolism slows. Our metabolism relies on nutrient intake the same way a car relies on gas. In addition, if we start cutting calories, our bodies begin to think we're in ‘starvation mode’ and responds by slowing down all functioning in order to conserve energy. This not only inhibits metabolism (as well as fat-burning abilities and muscle growth), but it causes hormonal and cellular changes that can actually increase hunger and thirst. 

REST & REPAIR

Scientifically speaking, it has been proven that lack of sleep is associated with lack of weight loss. When we’re fatigued and “just trying to get through the day” our body starts working on conserving energy which slows metabolism.  Lack of sleep (and stress on the adrenal glands) can cause the body to release more cortisol, a hormone that can cause the body to store more fat. High levels of cortisol can also lead to brain fogginess, weight gain and becoming more resistant to insulin which controls blood sugar.  All the more reason to get those 7-9 hours a night!

BUILD MUSCLE MASS

The more muscle you have, the more of a boost you give your resting metabolism. Regular exercise increases muscle mass, and those with a higher muscle mass need more energy which boosts metabolism. Strength training (weightlifting at least 2x/week) is important because it helps counteract muscle loss associated with aging. 

ADD METABOLISM BOOSTER FOODS

Certain foods have what’s called a thermic effect meaning the body has to work harder to break it down. This has a warming effect on the body which further fuels metabolism. 

  • Protein: It not only helps you feel fuller longer and keeps energy and blood sugar stable but it also helps build lean muscle mass which helps the body burn calories. Also, eating protein forces your body to use up more calories during digestion compared to other macronutrients such as carbs
  • Green Tea: Full of antioxidant compounds and the low levels of caffeine naturally boost metabolism
  • Spice: Certain foods such as cayenne pepper and chili contain an active compound called capsaicin which produces a natural warming effect. Spices like cinnamon, pepper and ginger decrease appetite and aid in fat oxidation (break-down). In fact, they may also inhibit the growth of fat cells
  • Garlic: Contains a compound called allicin which has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and fat accumulation

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