How to Increase Your Metabolism

I’m frequently asked how to increase your metabolism. After all, who wouldn’t love to eat more without putting on body fat?

In this article, I’m going to show you how to do just that.

But first, let me go on a quick rant. Ready?


Original source: here.

            Stop using age as an excuse for your slow metabolism or your weight gain. It’s easy to blame your problems on something you can’t control. Does age really slow down your metabolism? Yes, but not nearly as much as you think. You can’t control your age, but you sure can control your sleep, nutrition and exercise habits. One young, but wise fitness writer (and former contributor to this newsletter), Jessica Culver said “age is the excuse people use for an accumulation of bad habits.” Ha! Take that.

Stop the Bad Stuff 

You see, increasing your metabolism isn’t just about adding in good stuff. It’s also about taking out bad stuff that slows down your metabolism. What is the bad stuff?

  1. Processed food

Not much comment needed here. You know what you shouldn’t be eating. Although food marketers are smart. If they tell you how good a food is for you (even if it isn’t), you’ll believe it. Don’t fall for it. Here’s Igor’s rule of detecting pseudo-healthy food: if marketers have to tell you how good a food is for you, it’s probably not good.

Let’s use an example. Fibre one granola bar. Does it have more fibre than most granola bars? Yes. But it also has more trans fats.

Kashi cereal? Does it have more fibre, more protein and less sugar than many other cereals? Yes. But it’s still garbage. It’s not good. It’s just less bad. If you look at the ingredients label, you’ll still see sugar go by 7 different names. You’ll see so many ingredients derived from corn. So again, if it has to tell you how good it is for you, it’s probably not very good.

Let’s use another example. Ever seen a TV commercial for spinach or broccoli? No? Because they don’t have to spend a billion dollars to convince you that it’s healthy.

  1. Lack of sleep

Another fairly easily-fixed factor for a “slow metabolism.” Sleep is incredibly important for a healthy metabolism, for many reasons:

  • If you don’t sleep enough, you don’t have enough serotonin. That’s the brain chemical that makes you feel happy and calm. So you start to crave sugar and starches. Not good.
  • The longer you’re awake, the more opportunities you have to eat. If you find yourself snacking on things you know you shouldn’t be eating at 11:30PM, that problem is easily solved by being deep asleep at that time.
  • You don’t sleep enough, you don’t recover from everything that happened that day. So you’re losing muscle. Muscle is precious.

I know what you’re thinking “oh, but I’m one of those people who can get by on 6 hours of sleep.” Trust me: no you’re not.

First of all, just because you can “get by” on 6 hours of sleep, doesn’t mean it’s optimal. Just because 6 hours of sleep isn’t killing you quickly doesn’t mean that it’s actually beneficial for you.

Second of all, you just think that losing 2+ hours of sleep isn’t affecting you. You’re not measuring it. So researchers put people to the test. These were all people who said they could function just fine on less than 7 hours of sleep. The researchers gave them what’s called a “psychomotor vigilance test.” It’s a simple test that takes 10 minutes. The participants who claimed they didn’t feel the effects of sleep loss invariably did much worse on the test than people who slept over 8 hours per night. Now, there’s quantifiable, measurable evidence that sleep deprivation really affects you.

  1. Long duration cardio

If you’ve heard me during public speaking engagements, you know that excessive and exclusive long-duration cardio slows down your metabolism. Why? For a number of reasons:

First, if cardio is all you’re doing (no strength training at all), you’re burning muscle. Ever seen a muscular marathon runner? No? That’s because they don’t exist.

Second, you become good at what you repeatedly do. So if you do a lot of long-duration cardio, you become fuel efficient. That means you burn fewer calories the more fit you get. Wonderful adaptation if you’re running for the sake of running. Bad adaptation if you want to be lean.

Smart endurance athletes (like our superstar clients, Carrie and Mandy) combine their endurance work with strength training. 

Add in Good Stuff 

  1. Strength training 

Every pound of muscle you have burns about 13 calories per day. So imagine gaining 10 pounds of muscle. You’d burn an extra 130 calories per day. Now imagine losing 10 pounds of muscle (which is what happens by age 35-50 if you don’t strength train). You’re now burning 130 calories per day fewer than if you had those 10 pounds of muscle.

Furthermore, strength training in and of itself (without muscle gain) will increase metabolism because of what’s called the “afterburn” effect. Basically, after a workout is over, your metabolism is still revved up. The condition for the afterburn effect is that you need to use a high enough intensity. And trust me, the intensity that I see out of most people in the gym just isn’t sufficient. They baby themselves too much.

And let’s get something out of the way. You might be thinking “I do strength training. I do the body pump classes at the gym.” Well, my friend, that’s not strength training. That’s cardio with weights. Just because you’re holding weights in your hands doesn’t automatically make it “strength training.” The definition of strength training is this: the weight needs to be heavy enough that you can’t lift it more than 15 times. If you were to attempt a 16th repetition, it wouldn’t move. THAT’S strength training.

  1. Lots of veggies and moderate amounts of protein

Veggies have a lot of nutrients without a lot of calories. That’s great. Very helpful in maintaining a high metabolism.

Protein has a very high thermic effect. That means that whenever a food is eaten, some of the calories from that food go towards just digesting that food. With fat (think butter, avocado, olives, nuts, etc.), it’s about 2-3%. So if you ate 100 calories from pure fat, 2-3% of that would be used to metabolize that fat. If you ate 100 calories from pure carbohydrates, 5-10% of that would be used to metabolize and assimilate that. But if you ate 100 calories from pure protein, 25-30% of those calories would be used to metabolize and assimilate that protein.

If you’re wondering what the best sources of protein are, read this article that I wrote some time ago.

  1. Take a multi-vitamin

The deficiency of any single nutrient can completely put a halt on your fat loss and muscle gain efforts. So taking a high-quality multi-vitamin will go a long way towards plugging any obvious nutritional deficiencies.

Some examples of high-quality multivitamins are Metagenics Multigenics or Phytomulti, Platinum, Genestra, Progressive, AOR, and Thorne (and there’s probably several others that I just don’t know about).

The lowest quality multivitamins are from Centrum, One-a-Day, Jamieson, Kirkland (and again, there’s probably many others that I just don’t know about).

  1. Move around more

Yes, a formal, structured systematic exercise program is good for you. But how about the other 23 hours that you’re not exercising? Movement has to be automatically built in to your day. Got an office job? Drink water. It’ll force you to have to go to the washroom. When you’re coming back from the washroom, drink another glass. This way, walking breaks are automatically built into your day.

Besides that, more and more research is coming out and saying that formal exercise is good, but doesn’t offset the bad of sitting around all the time. So find ways to add movement into your day.

1 thought on “How to Increase Your Metabolism”

  1. Eleni Vaiopoulos

    i’m amazed of Igor’s knowledge. I trust to get his advise on y own assessment. Book me in please!

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