While every athlete needs adequate nutrition, there’s no such thing as a nutrition plan that will work for everyone; each person’s body is different, and it’s important to know the right breakdown of macronutrients – carbs, fat, and protein – for your unique body type. However, there are some general nutrition guidelines you can follow to help maintain a healthy metabolism.
What Is Metabolism?
First, a couple helpful definitions:
Metabolism: the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy.
Metabolic Rate: the rate at which your body uses energy while you’re at rest.
Before we get into how proper nutrition can affect your metabolism, we need to take a moment to talk about the m-word. For most of us, the word “metabolism” brings to mind one thing: the number on the scale and how many calories we can eat without making that number go up. You’ve also probably heard someone complain about having a slow metabolism and how it has caused them to gain weight, or the reverse, where someone says they can eat anything they want due to their high metabolism.
While it’s true that some people are born with a faster metabolic rate than others, scientists haven’t really figured out why it varies so much from person to person. They also tend to disagree on the extent to which our metabolic rates and genes affect weight gain and obesity.
You can read study after study and find conflicting results about those topics, but for now, let’s focus on the things that are generally accepted about metabolism:
● There are three main ways your body burns energy (calories) each day: energy used for your body's basic functioning while at rest; energy used to break down food (also known as the thermic effect of food); and energy used in physical activity.
● The faster your metabolic rate, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to maintain your weight or get rid of unwanted body fat.
● Numerous factors can affect your metabolism, including age, gender, muscle mass, body size, body fat, environmental temperature, drugs, physical activity, hormones, and more.
● A healthy metabolism can not only help you burn fat and maintain your weight, it can also give you more energy, help you sleep better, and make you feel better overall.
● Your metabolism is in a constant state of flux. It changes throughout the day and throughout the years of your life.
The last one is really important – your metabolism is constantly changing, and food is one thing that affects it daily. By staying active, consuming proper nutrition, and making healthy choices for your body (like getting enough sleep and avoiding emotional eating), you can help offset the changes in your metabolic rate, and possibly even boost it. For today, let’s dive into the nutritional aspect…
How Proper Nutrition Promotes a Healthy Metabolism
There’s no “quick fix” when it comes metabolism; as we covered, it’s a complex process that scientists don’t even completely understand. That being said, food does affect your metabolism every time you eat (or don’t eat), so why not do everything you can to try to make it work in your favor?
When we are talking about changing your metabolism with nutrition, we are not necessarily talking about specific foods. Remember – each person’s body is unique, so there’s no secret list of foods that could help us all speed up our metabolism for weight loss. Sure, certain foods are known to boost your metabolic rate a little (things like coffee, chili, and certain spices), but the difference is so small it won’t really have a big impact.
So what are we talking about? Lifestyle changes!
Scientists may not have the whole puzzle figured out, but research has shown correlations between nutrition, eating habits, and metabolism. At Envision Fitness, we’ve witnessed first-hand how the methods listed below help our athletes learn discipline and reach their goals, whether they want to lose weight, increase muscle, or boost athletic performance.
Drink at least half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day, starting first thing in the morning. By drinking a glass of water soon after you get up, you are waking up your metabolism and creating a favorable environment in your body for nutrients to be absorbed. Some researchers also believe that drinking water can help promote lipolysis, which is the breakdown of fats and other lipids.
Eat Breakfast Every Day
It’s called the most important meal of the day for a reason, so don’t skip breakfast. When we skip a meal, our bodies go into “starvation mode,” and metabolism slows down. Instead, rev up your metabolism in the morning with a balanced breakfast. You should eat a high-protein breakfast every day within 30 minutes of waking up to help fuel your body for each day’s events.
Increase Your Protein Intake
No secret here. You’ve likely seen those giant tubs of protein powder at your local health food store, or heard fit people talking about their daily protein shakes. That’s because your body needs protein to maintain lean muscle. And the more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism is at rest – meaning you’ll burn more calories even when you’re not working out. Protein also helps to regulate blood glucose levels!
Eat More Vitamin and Mineral-Rich Foods
Iron, Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B, and Magnesium are just a few of the vitamins and minerals that can help promote a healthy metabolism. You’ll find them in foods like nuts, lean meats, beans, leafy greens, fish, melon, broccoli, and eggs. When you sign up for nutrition coaching at Envision Fitness, we can help ensure your weekly meal plan incorporates the necessary vitamins and minerals.
Sorry to be a party pooper, but not only is alcohol full of empty calories, it can also affect your metabolism. When you have a drink, you burn less fat because your body uses the alcohol as fuel instead. If and when you do drink, avoid sugary mixers, and be try to be mindful about portion sizes; a serving of beer is 12 ounces, wine is 5 ounces, and liquor is 1.5 ounces.
Let’s Figure Out the Right Nutrition Plan for Your Body
Nutrition is a necessary component of any successful fitness plan. In fact, if you are just beginning to change your lifestyle, sometimes it’s best to focus on nutrition before you get into an exercise regimen. We encourage you to chat with one of our experienced personal trainers to figure out the best course of action for you. Give us a call at 612-405-8414, or connect with us online to schedule a 90-minute fitness consultation – it’s free!