10 Ways To Rev Up the Metabolism
by Jon Gestl, CSCS

You sit down in the employee cafeteria and you see her
again... that co-worker with the body you'd give anything
to look like. She seems to eat anything she wants and
doesn't seem to gain any weight.

Meanwhile, you gnaw on your daily lunch of carrot and
celery sticks and wonder why you're gaining. What
does she know that your don't? Is it all genetics and
you are just one of the unlucky doomed to live in a body
you are powerless to change? Actually, the answer
may be something that you do have control over: your

Metabolism is simply the rate at which the body
processes energy, or burns calories. Think of
metabolism as the setting on the body's "furnace". The
higher the metabolism, the more calories your body
burns, even at rest.

Factors which influence metabolism include genetics,
age, sex, activity level, food intake and body
composition. Go ahead and blame your parents for
genetics and those factors which you can do nothing
about, but you do have control over your activity level,
food intake, and body composition. These elements
play a crucial role in your body's metabolic rate.

An important factor to understand regarding
metabolism is that the body's primary fuel source
during lower energy output activities (sleep, sitting at
your desk, watching TV, riding the bus, etc.) is fat.
These activities occupy most of your time. When you
increase your metabolic rate, you begin to burn more
calories in response to all the activities. And the more
likely that your body will be using stored fat as an
energy source.

The main focus of any worthwhile fitness plan should
be to increase metabolism so the body's furnace is set
at a higher level. Some ways to increase metabolism

1. Build more muscle. More of the body's energy is
required to maintain muscle mass. The more muscle
mass you have, the more calories your body will burn.
In fact, about 50 calories are consumed for every one
pound of muscle mass per day. Therefore, the more
muscle you carry, the more calories your body
burns~even at rest.

2. Moderate aerobic exercise. You don't need to spend
hours each day on the treadmill, bike or running path.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends
as little as 20 minutes of aerobic activity 3 to 5 days per
week to achieve fitness, health, and weight
management goals. In fact, excessive aerobic exercise
may result in the actual loss of lean body mass if
caloric requirements are not met, which in turn lowers
the metabolism.

3. Increase activity throughout the day. Instead of using
the elevator to get to your fourth floor office, use the
stairwell. Park further away from the supermarket door
instead of trying the find the closest parking spot.
Spend one of your work breaks during the day walking
the office halls. Lose the remote control. The point is to
get up and MOVE, especially if your job requires you to
sit during long periods of time. It also gets you in the
habit of increasing your activity level on a regular basis.

4. Eat like a horse, not a bear. Sound crazy? Think
about it. Horses graze on small amounts of food
throughout the course of a day. Subsequently, they have
very lean, muscular frames. Bears, on the other hand,
eat large amounts of food spaced further apart. They
carry far more body fat on their frames. Humans are no
different. Research supports that the production of
thyroid hormones can be negatively affected by
repeated bouts of dieting and calorie restriction. Five or
six meals spaced evenly from 2.5 to 3 hours make it
easier for the body to digest throughout the day, this
increases metabolism over the long term.

5. Avoid fad diets. Fad diets are usually those
popularized in the media. They usually call for severely
reducing or even eliminating nutrients. "Eat no carbs."
"Eliminate all fat." "Eat only protein." Or focus only on
one kind of food like The Grapefruit Diet, The Cabbage
Soup Diet or "Eat nothing but salad." Current research
by the USDA on unbalanced meal plans tells us that
too much or too little of any nutrient is likely to result
in problems with long-term weight management.

6. Skip the fast food. Fast food is typically loaded with
fat. Fat is relatively easy for the body to absorb and
does not require the energy expenditure that protein
and carbohydrates do in digestion and assimilation. A
gram of fat yields nearly twice the calories as a gram of
protein or carbohydrates. Replacing caloric
consumption from high amounts of fat to equal portions
of protein and carbohydrates stimulate greater caloric
usage. However, be sure to not completely eliminate
dietary fat. Instead:

7. Eat balanced meals. Meals should contain adequate
and balanced amounts of protein, carbohydrates and
fat. In order to support lean body mass, fuel workouts
and encourage fat loss, many nutritional experts
suggest a 40-20-40 breakdown of these nutrients for
each meal. That is, 40 percent of calories from protein,
20 percent from fat, and 40 percent from carbohydrates.
An example of a "balanced meal" would be a chicken
breast, baked potato, and broccoli. And remember
what Mom always said: "Eat your veggies."

8. Drink more water. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger.
Chronic dehydration can also result in mental and
physical sluggishness. Be sure to consume at least
64 oz. (8 cups) daily and more when you are exercising.

9. Deal with stress. Stress increases hormones, such
as cortisol, which encourage your body to store fat
instead of burning it. Try yoga, meditation, listening to
calming music. Exercise, by the way, is a great stress
reliever AND it will help to promote lean body mass.

10. Get enough sleep. Studies have shown that people
who don't get enough sleep have slower metabolisms.
Get enough sleep so that you can awake in the
morning relatively easily and are not tired throughout
the day. Naps during the day can help, too.

While the time it takes for metabolism to increase
varies per individual, you can expect to see changes in
the body in as little as three to four weeks. The great
thing about increasing metabolism is that it makes it
easier to keep the extra pounds off over a longer period
of time~your body is literally turned into a fat-burning

Increasing your metabolic rate should be the primary
goal of any fitness-related/weight loss program. It
helps you to become one of those people who can
seem to eat anything you want.
Before you know it, you'll have one of those bodies that
everyone is dying to have.