The food you eat can have a major impact on your metabolism. Sure, any fad diet can result in weight loss—all it takes is eating less. However, if you want to build a body that remains metabolic—burns fat and builds lean muscle—you need to give it the right fuel to get the job done.
Doing so isn’t just about reaching a certain macronutrient profile, it’s also about ensuring those macronutrients are nutrient dense and delivering you exactly what you need to keep you metabolic. On that note, here are four diet secrets that you might not know about the food you eat that can crank up your metabolism.
Protein packs a punch when it comes to metabolism. First off, just eating it increases thermogenesis. This is because protein takes more energy to burn off than other foods with same caloric value, including carbs! In fact, breaking down carbs burns about 5 to 15 percent of the calories you consume, while protein takes about 20 to 30 percent. That’s because protein, unlike carbs, takes more energy to break apart into useable energy. Hence the reason carbohydrates are the preferred energy source by the body.
Secondly, eating protein provides us with aminos. Those aminos are the building blocks of muscle and, without them, we can’t build muscle or maintain it. And – muscle is metabolic! The more we have, the higher our metabolic rate.
However, eating just any protein won’t do. High quality proteins like chicken, red meat, salmon, eggs and whey deliver all the essential amino acids needed to kick start the muscle-building process. These are essential, because we can’t produce them on our own. Vegetable proteins fall short on essentials and are considered incomplete—delivering less of the essentials needed to make muscle growth happen. Additionally, animal proteins deliver more good stuff—energizing B-Vitamins, muscle-building creatine, leucine, carnosine and blood pumping iron.
If you want to be more metabolic, you need to get your body into a fat adaptive state by using a carb cycling approach. A fat adaptive state is when your body starts to burn off fat, instead of using carbohydrates, as its main energy source.
Most of us tend to over eat carbs and under eat protein. By doing this, we overflow our carbohydrate stores in the muscle and end up storing more as fat. By changing your macronutrient profile to one that is low in carbs and high in protein, we can efficiently get the body to use up the carbs we have stored and force the body to start burning more fat preferentially. Keeping protein high helps ensure the body’s amino levels are maintained so muscle building can continue and your hard earned muscle is spared.
Cycling carbs also keeps the body from reaching a plateau. After about 2-weeks on any calorie-reduced diet, appetite and metabolic hormones start to fall, which reduces metabolism and slows fat loss. A spike in carbs and calories triggers hormones involved in metabolism to up-regulate resulting in an increase in metabolism.
It takes about three days to get your body into a fat adaptive state, where the rate of fat oxidation or burning increases. Depending on how much fat you need to lose can determine the length of your carb cycle. Try following a low carb diet for 4 to 6 days, followed by a single high carb diet day. Low carb days should provide roughly 50% protein, 10-20% carbs and 30-40% fat.
Eat Fat To Burn Fat
The Mediterranean diet has long been shown to have many health benefits, and many of those benefits have been linked to its rich fat content from monounsaturated fats or MUFAs and polyunsaturated fats or PUFAs. These fats have been suggested to increase fat oxidation, decrease fat storage, reduce hunger and improve body composition.
There is also some evidence to suggest that increasing PUFAs in the diet might promote increases in lean muscle tissue mass thus increasing metabolic rate and indirectly assisting with body fat reduction. Consuming doses of 2-5 g per day of PUFA might also promote better nutrient delivery to muscles due to their vasodilation effect, which would reduce the availability of nutrients for fat storage.
The polyphenolic compound Oleuropein from Olives has been found to potentially have metabolic effects, including increasing thyroid hormone T3, noradrenaline and adrenaline. Oleuropein boosts UCP or uncoupling proteins. Uncoupling proteins generate heat energy, which results in excess calorie burning, instead of generating ATP. This increase in UCP is most likely related to the increase in T3, noradrenaline and adrenaline. In a meta-analysis on PUFAs, it has been suggested that intake of 0.3 to 3.0 g per day of PUFAs is effective for reducing body weight and improving body composition in humans, including decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle.
Reduce Inflammatory Foods
If you weren’t aware, the fat you have hanging around on your body is not an innate object. Fat tissue pumps out inflammatory cytokines and hormones that can impair the function of insulin, leptin and block fat burning receptors. This results in the body becoming insensitive to insulin and leptin. As a result, the body can’t store or use the nutrients we put into it efficiently—not to mention the metabolism can become sluggish.
When the body can’t process food properly, this can result in excess sugar in the blood that forms glycated compounds, which are also inflammatory! Increased fat means greater inflammation and a further reduction in fat metabolism. One way to ensure we reduce inflammation in the body is to reduce dietary causes of inflammation. If you know you are sensitive to gluten, dairy or certain other foods, make an effort to reduce them from your diet. Also, reduce sugar and start eating more whole natural fresh foods including fruit and vegetables, which contain natural anti-inflammatory compounds including antioxidant vitamins and phytonutrients.
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