A healthy metabolism is essential for many aspects of your body’s function, from energy levels and moods to weight control and overall health. A sluggish metabolism can lead to fatigue, difficulty with weight loss or gain, poor digestion, and muddled thinking.
While many factors affect metabolism, there are a few key things you can do to keep yours working well. Let’s explore the four pillars of a healthy metabolism.
Metabolism is defined as the chemical processes that are necessary for the maintenance of life. While your car doesn’t have a metabolism, per se, I’m sure you notice when it isn’t functioning at its best.
You may not get the same acceleration response or notice that your gas mileage is lagging. That’s when a tune-up can really help – for your car or your body. Here are the pillars for your body’s tune-up:
Pillar #1: A Well-Balanced Diet
Eating foods that are naturally high in protein and fiber and low in sugar will help keep your metabolism running smoothly. Foods that are high in fiber and protein take longer to digest, which means they help to keep you feeling full longer and prevent overeating.
These foods help stabilize blood sugar levels, which can also impact metabolism. Be sure to include plenty of whole fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats and a small portion of whole grains in your diet for the best results. Give more of your plate’s “real estate” to the vegetable category and choose a variety of colors to maximize the available nutrients.
Another critical part of maintaining a healthy diet is regularly eating throughout the day. Prioritize protein rather than cereal or flour-based food in your first meal of the day. This will help with blood sugar balance. If you choose to follow an intermittent fasting plan, choose your foods carefully to ensure you are providing the macronutrients (protein, fat, produce) that will fuel your metabolism.
Pillar #2: Moving Your Body
The second pillar of healthy metabolism is regular exercise. If the term exercise evokes negative thoughts, think of it as movement. Weight-bearing movement not only burns calories, but it also helps to build muscle. Weight-bearing can involve the use of weights or machines, but it can also be using your own body as the weight.
Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, so the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate will be. That means you’ll burn more calories even when you’re not exercising. Muscle tissue also takes up 1/3 of the volume or space that fat does, so building muscle will help to reduce inches.
Pillar #3: Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water is vital for keeping all parts of the body functioning properly. Adequate hydration helps support kidney function, which aids in toxin removal from the body and cellular energy production necessary for proper metabolic processes.
I would encourage you to do a little experiment. Start by weighing yourself and note what half that number is. Now go to the kitchen and pull out a measuring cup and a normal glass. Fill the glass, then dump the water into the measuring cup, noting the ounces it holds.
Now do the math – how many of these glasses would equal half your weight in cumulative ounces of water? That’s your target each day.
If you haven’t been drinking that much water, start by adding one more glass today. Then progressively add more. If you are accustomed to drinking lots of coffee or soft drinks, trade one for a glass of water, and then trade another. Other beverages are allowed, but water is the foundation for your body’s function.
Pillar #4: Quality Sleep
Sleep plays a vital role in overall health, including your metabolism. Though we may consider sleep to be “downtime,” your body is quite busy. The liver cleans house and hormones are refreshed, and your brain files new things you learned and storing memories. In fact, if your sleep is delayed or cut short, your memory suffers.
Insufficient sleep can lead to weight gain, a decrease in energy levels, and even impairment similar to being drunk. If you are not getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep regularly, you may think you are doing fine. But the reality is your body is impaired and your metabolism is reduced.
A healthy metabolism is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and having plenty of energy throughout the day. If you struggle with either of these, it’s best to explore what support your body needs before you develop disease. A health coach trained in Functional Medicine can help you explore the root causes of your symptoms and guide you back to the path of vitality.