Rev Up Your Metabolism to Fight Belly Fat
Efficiently metabolizing calories can lead to a healthier body weight and a reduction in belly fat. Metabolism is the process by which the body makes and uses energy (calories) for everything from the cellular absorption of nutrients to running a marathon.
In other words, the better your metabolism, the more calories you burn throughout the day. Because weight loss and body fat loss are dependent on creating a calorie deficit, increasing your metabolism makes losing weight and keeping it off easier.
Metabolism can decline for many reasons, including the following:
Aging: As you age, your metabolism begins to slow. This slowing is due in part to a decline in muscle mass. However, if you start to build muscle back, you can begin to increase your metabolism.
Lifestyle behaviors: Behaviors, such as being sedentary, being under large amounts of stress, skipping meals, and not getting adequate sleep, can negatively impact your metabolism.
The good news is that a decline in metabolism doesn’t have to be permanent. You can increase it and, therefore, the number of calories you burn each day. I show you how in the following sections.
Nosh on foods that fire up your metabolism
Some foods, seasonings, and spices directly boost your metabolism (and therefore promote fat loss and weight reduction). Here are some great belly-burners to aim to eat on a regular basis:
Apples: This fruit is rich in the flavonoid quercetin, which has been shown to block baby fat cells from maturing. It’s also a powerful inflammation fighter.
Cinnamon: This spice has been found in studies to make fat cells more responsive to insulin, helping to better regulate blood sugar levels.
Ginger: This spice has been found to have a thermogenic effect and to aid in digestion.
Green tea: The main polyphenol, EGCG, in green tea has been shown to have thermogenic properties and to increase fat oxidation.
Hot peppers: Rich in capsaicin, these peppers have a thermogenic effect on the body, boosting metabolism and calorie burn. These can be used fresh or in ground and flaked forms.
Red and purple grapes: These fruits are rich in resveratrol. Studies have shown that this polyphenol helps increase metabolism and suppress estrogen production, which may help decrease body fat and increase muscle mass.
Soup: Research has found that individuals who eat soup rather than solid foods consumed fewer overall calories throughout the day. Soup’s high fluid volume may be the reason for this decreased consumption of calories.
But watch out for the sodium content of canned soups. Homemade soup is best whenever possible. If you do choose a canned soup, make sure to select a low-sodium variety. And also watch your choice in soup; cream-based soups can be rich in saturated fat and high in calories. Choose mostly broth-based options, and if you do opt for a cream-based soup, make sure to select a low-fat option.
Eat your way to a better metabolism
By making some simple changes to your eating habits and behaviors, you can boost your metabolism (and, therefore, burn more calories every day). Here are a few easy changes you can make:
Eat! Sounds easy enough, right? Who doesn’t want to eat more? Studies have shown that eating smaller meals every three to four hours speeds up both metabolism and weight loss progress.
When you wait too long between meals to eat, your body begins to wonder when the next meal is coming. So your body goes into a starvation mode of sorts; it stores fat in the rare chance that another meal never comes. This protective mechanism is useful in times of famine but not dieting.
Because of this fat-storing mechanism, those who drastically restrict their caloric intake generally don’t lose much weight. So not only is it important to eat regularly, but you never want to cut your portions too dramatically (under 1,000–1,200 calories per day depending on age and height). Otherwise, you sabotage your weight loss efforts.
Ditch the simple sugars. When you eat large amounts of sugar, your body produces more insulin. And the more insulin that’s constantly being produced, the more fat your body stores. Consuming low-glycemic-index foods and avoiding refined carbohydrates helps to prevent an excessive production of insulin and, therefore, results in less fat storage.
Don’t discount breakfast. When you skip breakfast, you sabotage the rest of your day as well as your weight loss efforts. Studies show that people who eat a healthy breakfast weigh less than people who don’t.
When you eat breakfast, you’re doing two things: jump-starting your metabolism and preventing excessive hunger later in the day. Your body doesn’t begin to burn calories as effectively until you eat something. And remember that excessive hunger leads to cravings, which leads to overeating.
Drink plenty of water. A German study found that drinking water can actually raise your metabolism. Increased fluid volume in the body may actually help to break down fat. And not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration, which can lower your metabolic rate. And at times, your brain can confuse thirst for hunger.
So slight dehydration may increase your appetite and make it harder to resist the temptation to overeat. So on your Belly Fat Diet plan, drink at least 8 to 10 cups of water daily. If you can, drink your water chilled. Cold water may give your metabolism a small boost because some energy is required to heat the body.