We sometimes look at our friend or relative and think "Wow... how can he/she eat so much food and not get fat at all!!" Well, the answer is very simple: Metabolism.
In this easy-to-follow instructable I'm gonna show you how you can speed-up your metabolism (and even lose some weight in the process) with some very basic guidelines and simple steps, just by eating and drinking what you always have been, not by some miracle diets or dangerous experimental procedures or drugs.
If you follow the steps and guidelines of this instructable, you'll get / be able to:
1. Eat large amounts of food and not get fat at all.
2. Lose some weight.
3. Less laziness.
4. Less prone to get sick.
5. Healthier and more efficient body.
6. A good-looking aesthetic body.
I'm also gonna clarify some myths about food, weight-loss and exercise related stuff.
NOTE: I am not gonna go very deep into nutrition, like complete diets or food programs. Diets/food programs don't work the same for everyone. If a particular diet worked for your friend, chances are it won't work the same for you, everyone has a different body. Consult your dietician for more info on this.
Step 1: The Basics
I'm going to begin explaining some of the very basics of our metabolism and how does it work.
Metabolism comes from the greek metabolé, wich means change, transformation, what cells experiment in our body when they change from organic substances to energy, in order to fulfill the vital functions of the body.
To put it simple, the metabolism is the speed with which the body converts food into energy, it can do so quickly or slowly. When it happens quickly, it usually means no significant weight increase, because everything we eat is processed quickly and doesn't store nutrients as fat, thus causing the weight and volume to stay steady.
In the other case, when the metabolism is slow, the nutrients exceed the normal requirements of the body, so they go into storage - as fat. The metabolism is a very complex process, but we're gonna keep it simple as to only focus on the fat reserves and how we can control them.
Now, we all know what calories are: A calory is a unit that measures how much energy a food provides to the body. The more calories you eat, the more energy you put into the body, but you need to provide the right amount or otherwise the excess energy goes into storage. The measure of the rate at wich a given person burns energy in the form of calories at rest (ie, while you sit and do nothing), is called Basal Metabolism.
The speed of the basal metabolism is regulated by a number of factors. To some extent, basal metabolism is inherited, passed from parents to childs through genes, but sometimes health problems can affect the basal metabolism and its efficacy (we'll talk about this ahead). This doesn't mean that you can't change it's speed, there are still many ways to accelerate it.
Ok, enough chatter, let's get to work.
Step 2: Foods
Myth #1. "People who eat a lot are fat."
Myth #2. "Skipping meals means less calories and more weight loss."
That's stupid people saying stupid things. Knowledge is power, and I'm gonna give you knowledge about this, here are some facts for you to consider.
FACT #1: When you skip meals, you're effectively telling your body that there's not much food available, as a result the body enters "survival mode". This means that the metabolism slows down to consume as less energy as possible, and a portion of the food you eat in survival mode, automatically goes to reserve (fat).
FACT #2: Diets that starve you, or skipping meals on purpose, does gets you to lose weight, BUT at that point any weight loss comes mostly from water and muscle, not fat.
"Ok... So how many meals?"
People usually eat 3 times a day, 3 "big" meals that is, forcing the body and metabolism to overwork those 3 times a day. What many people don't know, is that we must eat at least 5 times a day.
Eating many times a day helps the metabolism to stay active a lot longer, instead of just 3 times a day. Imagine you're in a car and want to get to the movies. What's the fastest way to get there? You can drive at a medium/fast constant speed, or drive slowly, and occasionally press the gas all the way to the bottom to give the car a rush, only to slow down again. The best way to keep the engine working, consuming fuel, and to get to the movies fast, is to drive at a constant speed. The same applies to the body. 5 small meals will keep the metabolism active, and most importantly, you won't get hungry.
Eating 5 times a day, or eating every 2 or 4 hours, it's your choice and depends on your body and your likings, but it's one of the most important rules to speed-up your metabolism.
By eating frequently you achieve the following:
1. Eating frequently prevents hunger pangs and curbs over eating.
2. Eating more often keeps your metabolism working quickly so you burn calories more efficiently.
3. Food is also absorbed more efficiently and quickly when we eat regularly.
"Ok I hear you, I can eat 5 meals a day, but how much can I eat?"
You need to know about portion control. Eating five times a day means you can eat enough to satisfy you, but its important to know how much you can eat in relation to your body size and there is a very easy way of doing this.
You can count calories, but let's be frank who has the time or inclination to do this? The trick is to use your hand. A portion should be the size of your fist or the size of your palm. A "fist" of steamed rice, a "palm" of fish, etc...
"Ok... but, WHAT do I eat?"
Avoid greasy/sugared foods, and keep in mind that your meals must contain 4 groups of food: Cereals, Dairy, Protein, Fruits & Vegetables. The less fat a food contains, the more calories are burn. This explains why some people can eat big amounts of food without gaining weight, instead of eating small portions of pizza, chocolate bars, or hamburguers.
For example, how about for meal #3: Salmon, brown rice and vegetables? Or maybe a turkey sandwich and vegetables? and for meal #4, some fruits with yoghurt? The combinations are endless.
Your body burns more calories when digesting foods high in fiber and protein, thus speeding the metabolism. And better yet, some foods like raw vegetables burn so much calories that they produce a negative caloric effect. This means that if you eat a 20 calory carrot, your body will burn 25 calories digesting it, making you burn 5 extra calories just for eating it.
Complex carbs (especially high fiber carbs like raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts) & Lean proteins (like white meat, fish and eggs) are 'highly thermongenic foods' meaning every time you eat complex carbs & lean proteins your body has to burn a lot of fat just to digest the protein and carbs you eat.
People who drink 3 servings of dairy (milk, cheese or yogurt) a day can lose more weight on a diet which do not. The secret seems to be the calcium in milk that can accelerate fat burning.
Myth #3. "Skip breakfast, it helps you lose weight."
The most important meal of the day is breakfast, through it the body gets the nutrients needed to burn calories efficiently over 24 hours. Are you starving through out the entire day, feeling anxious? You didn't eat enough breakfast. Besides the 5-meals-a-day rule, a good and balanced breakfast is a must, it helps you burn calories faster.
Breakfast helps you lose weight if you eat it less than 1 hour after waking up. Breakfast 2 hours after waking up doesn't work because you lose the effect of reducing appetite and speeding up the metabolism.
Commercial juice has a lot of sugar and of course a sweet sugared bread doesn't help much to speed up the metabolism and lose weight. Eat lots of protein and fiber, say tuna for protein and vegetables for fiber, but don't forget the carbs, so 1 or 2 slices of wheat bread should do. (This is just an example, you can eat more or less, depends on you.)
"Ok, got any more tips?"
Sure I do, here you go.
- Eat slowly and chew well. You eat fast and you won't dissolve the food properly, giving large chunks of unchewed food to your stomache, making it harder to digest wich will make your metabolism slower as a result. Constipation is also a symptom of not chewing properly.
- Proteins, carbs and fiber should be eaten together, while fruits are best absorbed alone.
- Like "hot" and spicy foods with lots of tabasco, curry and chile? Spicy foods cause higher energy expenditure because they generate heat, which accelerates the combustion energy and acts as a fat-burning agent during digestion. Just add a little pepper to your food and you're done. But don't push it, too much spicy food is hard on the stomach.
- Your last meal must be 2 or 3 hours before going to sleep. But a little yoghurt, protein bar or glass of milk right before sleep keeps the insuline levels steady and the digestive motor going.
-Vary your food, the body will get used to eating the same things and reduce the speed of the metabolism. Eat something greasy and high in sugar once in a while, just for the heck of it.
Step 3: Drinks
Myth #4. "Your body needs 2 liters/8 glasses of water everyday."
Mmm.. Yes and No.
In general, to remain healthy we need to take in enough water to replace the amount we lose daily through excretion, perspiration, and other bodily functions, but that amount can vary widely from person to person, based upon a variety of factors such as age, physical condition, activity level, and climate.
Scientists say there's no clear health benefit to chugging or even sipping water all day. So where does the standard advice of drinking eight glasses/2 liters each day come from? "Nobody really knows" says Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a kidney expert at the University of Pennsylvania.
Now, some people say "If you feel thirsty, drink; if you don't feel thirsty, don't drink unless you want to." That's like saying "If you feel hungry, eat. Don't feel hungry, don't eat", but we already know that in order to keep our body and metabolism fully functional and healthy we need to eat 5 times a day even if we're not hungry, so why wait until we're thirsty? Remember the old saying "Dig the well before you're thirsty."
But like I said, everything in excess is bad for you, even water. Don't over do it or your kidneys will take the hit.
"Ok, so how much water should I drink?"
Depends on what you do. I excercise a lot, I also eat a lot, I'm young and active, and live in a warm-to-tropical area, so my water requirements are more than the average. I drink 2-2.5 liters a day.
But for the average working person, somewhere between 1-2 liters is enough, that's 4 to 8 glasses a day.
A clinical research center in Berlin found that after you drink 17 ounces of water, your metabolism increases fat burning by 30% within 10 minutes of taking water.
"Got it. Now, what to drink?"
Water is recommended, but you can also drink natural juices, coffee, tea, etc. I don't drink soft-drinks like coke or other kind of soda because of their high sugar contents, but If you like them, then be my guest. At least drink some natural water once in a while.
According to a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, green tea helps you burn between 35 and 43% more calories per day.
"Can I drink water when I'm eating?"
Of course. In fact, the food "claims" for water, makes the consistency a lot softer for digestion. But don't get too excited, 1 or 2 glasses is fine, if you drink more, you will be making it harder for the stomach to digest the food since water reduces the acidity of the stomach.
Sometimes the brain confuses the thirsty signals with hungry signals, so the next time you feel hungry, have a drink.
- Something that's also interesting:
Most of the "facts" and "claims" of this lack-of-water seems to come from a book published by Dr. Batmanghelidj, an Iranian-born physician who now lives in the U.S. He maintains that people "need to learn they're not sick, only thirsty'' and that simply "drinking more water "cures many diseases. However, he arrived at his conclusions through reading, not research, and he claims that his ideas represent a "paradigm shift" that required him to self-publish his book lest his findings "be suppressed.''
Now, you need to know something. Since I started to go to the gym (November-2009), I've drinked 2 liters of water everyday, sometimes even more (2.5 liters). Since that time, I haven't got sick, not one day. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe it's the sum of all parts (Exercise, nutrituon and water), maybe it's just the water, just remember that nothing is impossible, and we're a long way to understanding everything in our world.
Step 4: Exercise
Myth #4. "Killing yourself in the gym EVERYDAY is the best way to accelerate your metabolism and lose weight."
If a person starts to exercise more, he/she will burn more calories not only by direct physical activity, but the fact that he/she is fitter and more active will also speed up the person's metabolism. The basal metabolism is also influenced by body composition, people with more muscle and less fat generally have a faster metabolic rate.
1 pound of muscle burns 5-14 calories per day, so when you form/grow 5 pounds of muscle your metabolism will burn extra 25-70 calories per day and lose 2 ½ to 7 pounds per year of extra fat.
Despite the loss of 2 ½ to 7 pounds of fat is not a lot, when you grow five pounds of muscle - you will be 5 to 10 pounds slimmer because muscle takes up space occupied by fat.
"So how much excercise should I do?"
Now, about the myth. It is best to do a session of high intensity exercise at least 3 times a week, and during the other days you can do low intensity exercise.
The more intense you exercise (weights for example), the more you will continue to burn calories "after" your workout is over, keeping you with a higher fat-burning metabolism during the day. Cardio excercises are a must too, do 20 to 40 minutes of eliptical, bicycle, etc.
This is for the "average" working person, a person who doesn't want to build muscle like a pro, just stay in shape.
The reason why people get fatter by the passing of the years, is because the body tends to lose muscle with the age, and thus the metabolism slows down.
Step 5: Other Factors
Food, drinking and exercise are not the only factors that contribute to the metabolism equation. Here are some diseases or disorders that can cause the metabolism to malfunction.
Hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is caused by an overactive thyroid gland. This gland secretes too much thyroxine, which speeds up the metabolism. It causes symptoms such as weight loss, rapid heart rate, blood pressure, protruding eyes and swelling in the neck caused by enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter). This disease can be controlled by medication, surgery or radiotherapy.
Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a thyroid gland absent or poorly reactive and usually the result of a developmental problem or a disease that destroys the thyroid gland. This gland secretes an insufficient amount of thyroxine, which slows the metabolism. When left untreated hypothyroidism can cause brain and growth problems. Hypothyroidism slows body processes and causes fatigue, decreased heart rate, excessive weight gain and constipation. The young people that are diagnosed with this disorder can be treated with thyroid hormone administered orally (by mouth) to having a normal concentration of this hormone in the body.
Inborn errors of metabolism. Some metabolic diseases are inherited. These diseases are known as inborn errors of metabolism. Shortly after the birth of a baby, they do tests on many of these metabolic diseases. Inborn errors of metabolism can sometimes cause serious problems if not controlled through diet or medication from an early age.
If you eat properly and still have overweight or underweight problems, I would recommend to check your thyroids, just in case. Also, for a proper working of the thyroid gland, the thyroid gland needs no more than 70 micrograms/day of Iodine.
Natural sources of iodine include sea life, such as kelp and certain seafood, as well as plants grown on iodine-rich soil. Iodized salt is fortified with iodine. Check to see if your table salt says something about Iodine.
For more info on this, go to
Step 6: Sleep Well
Sleep well. I can't stress this enough.
An average person needs from 8 to 10 hours of sleep everyday. Maybe 7, but that's pushing it. Sleep less than that and your metabolism won't function properly, you will gain fat, gain volume, and your efficiency will drop to the minimum.
A good 8 hours of sleep helps burn calories and build muscle, and thats 8 hours of deepcontinuous sleep.
When you don’t get enough sleep the levels of leptin in your body are lowered. Leptin is a blood protein that suppresses your appetite.
With your levels of leptin being lowered due to sleep depravation the levels of grehlin in your body are increased. Grehlin is a hormone that’s released in your body that makes you want to eat.
Step 7: Finishing
Well, I think that pretty much covers it. Remember, my goal wasn't weight loss or something like that, I just want you to be able to eat what you like as many times as you like with a faster healthier metabolism.
If weight loss and a healthier, more efficient body are byproducts of this, then we are some very lucky folks.
And remember, please BE CONSTANT. You don't get a fast metabolism overnight. Follow the guidelines and you should be ok.
I hope you liked this instructable and more importantly, I hope it helps you to get a happier and healthier life. Sorry if it was a lot to read =P. Take care of yourself and others!! All the best. =)
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