It’s safe to say that when it comes to eating, many of us are looking for freedom, not restriction.
My nutrition philosophy: eat smarter, not less.
This means letting science be your guide when choosing foods and activities that provide your body with the support it needs to function at its best. In this case, boosting your metabolism.
Your metabolic rate is the amount of energy and calories used during your normal daily living. And the greater your metabolic rate, the more calories you burn at rest. Hallelujah!
Eating smarter, not less, is the key to maintaining a balanced weight, more energy, clear skin, and a metabolism that works for you, not against you.
My eating formula: fill your plate with above-ground vegetables, protein, and fats like olive oil and avocado.
Here’s a list of foods that I typically advise removing to increase your metabolic rate. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that you can never have these foods. I don’t believe in living that way. This list is a guideline that will support your body in a more efficient and profound way. Remember: we are still living, and life is meant to be enjoyed.
This one is easier said than done because sugar lights up the same reward center in our brain as drugs, sex, and alcohol, making it a tough habit to kick. Not only does our reward system light up, but our insulin levels increase when we eat sugar. It’s important to note that every hormone in our body works to remove fat out of our fat cells except for insulin. When insulin is high, inflammation is high, energy is low, and you guessed it, so is your metabolism.
There is no off-switch to sugar in our brain—this means we can consume sugar all day and never feel full or satisfied. This becomes a slippery slope because it not only affects our body, but it affects our skin, hormones, sleep, and mood. Avoiding sugar means higher energy levels, balanced hormones, better sleep, a happier mood, and metabolism that doesn’t get bogged down by all that the body has to do to process the sugar in your body.
Consume less sugar and reap the benefits of how energized and vibrant you’ll feel with less inflammation and a steady metabolic rate.
Beans and grains
Beans and grains are carbohydrate-dense, lectin-containing foods that can slow down your metabolic rate. Because of their carbohydrate density, like sugar, they raise insulin levels, which we know causes inflammation, fatigue, and brain fog. None of which will make you feel that spectacular or support your goals of boosting your metabolism.
Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins that bind to sugar and other carbohydrate molecules and are resistant to human digestion.
If you’re needing carbohydrate support, go with white rice. I know it’s contrary to what we’ve been taught, but because the grain is stripped of its outer coating that contains lectins, the grain gets digested faster. Yes, this means a quicker insulin release, but it also means a faster normalized blood sugar level that brings your metabolism back to a well-oiled machine.
Most packaged foods on the grocery store shelves are designed by food scientists whose job it is to keep you hooked. Sugar, fat, and salt is the formula they use, in addition to added flavor, colors, and preservatives. Not only does this combination make any food highly palatable and hard to kick, it creates an inflammatory response in the body, which is the opposite of what you want when tending to your metabolism.
The good news is that the more you steer clear of these items and move toward real, whole foods, the less you’ll want them.
If you’re in a bind and need to grab something, look for smaller brands at the health food store, stick to the under-five-ingredient rule, and be sure you can pronounce and understand each ingredient.
Corn, soybean, canola, safflower, and sunflower oils are highly processed oils that wreak havoc on your mitochondria, the energy-generating portions of your cells.
These oils create an inflammatory response in your body due to high levels of omega 6 fats and inflammatory, polyunsaturated fats. When we over-consume omega 6 fats and under-consume omega 3 fats, we significantly increase metabolic syndrome, which is the opposite of boosting our metabolic rate.
Instead, focus on consuming fats like extra virgin olive oil to boost your metabolism. EVOO has some incredible anti-inflammatory properties from the compound oleocanthal, which is considered a natural ibuprofen and is responsible for giving you that burning, peppery sensation in the back of your throat.
If you can tolerate dairy, butter and ghee are wonderful fats to use in lieu of the aforementioned inflammatory ones. There’s always coconut oil and avocado oil, but olive oil is still my favorite—because, science.
Only doing cardio
This isn’t a food, but resistance training is where it’s at. Taking care of your muscles is going to give you a bigger bang for your buck than focusing on cardio or diet alone. This is a perfect example of using science to work to your benefit. The more muscle you have in your body, the more calories are burned at rest—aka a greater metabolic rate.
Another plus: having more muscle mass protects against insulin resistance, which not only protects against type 2 diabetes but protects your brain as it ages.
Water accounts for well over half of your body weight, playing a crucial role in many functions in the body including metabolism. Our muscle mass is made up of approximately 75% water, our blood is 80%, and brain tissue around 70%. These are some pretty important functions that will support not only your metabolism, but also your energy, mood, and longevity.
Water is our life source and should be treated as such.
I recommend drinking a liter of water upon waking to replenish the water lost when sleeping. Then continue sipping throughout the day.
The goal: if you’re active, follow the 1:1 rule—one ounce of water to every pound of body weight. Starting with half of an ounce per pound of body weight is wonderful too!
Be sure to stop an hour or so before bed because sleep is critical to metabolism. That brings us to our last point…
Not making sleep a priority
The amount of sleep and the quality of your sleep play a major influence on your metabolic rate. When we don’t get enough sleep, our satiety hormone leptin decreases, and our hunger hormone ghrelin increases—hence why we feel so ravenous when we’re tired.
It’s been shown that those who experience sleep deprivation have higher blood sugar levels, which we know works in opposition to a normalized metabolic rate.
Be diligent about your sleep hygiene to ensure the best night’s sleep possible. Avoid the phone, computer, and TV an hour before bed or wear orange-tinted, blue-light-blocking glasses. Wind down with a book or a meditation app like Wave.
And lastly, as I mentioned before, get that water intake in, but be sure to halt your sipping an hour or so before bed so your sleep isn’t disrupted. Remember, quality of sleep is important and will determine how you feel and your hormonal response the next day, and of course, your metabolic rate.
Plus sleep is the easiest of this entire list as long as you make the time for it!