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7.25.2012

Metabolism: Then vs. Now


Metabolism affects a lot of things about a person – weight management, hunger levels, nutrient absorption… just to name a few.

But what if I told you that, biologically speaking, a slow metabolism is actually preferred?


Think of it this way: people used to have to work for their food. We would run miles and miles to catch a buffalo, followed by a long evening of dragging that carcass back home to share with the family. Naturally, our bodies have a tendency to want to store the food it gets, because it has no idea when the next meal is coming. A fast metabolism in the prehistoric days would have meant constant hunger and weakness, distracting us from our daily activities of spearing bison and inventing the wheel.

Now, however, food is a pantry, restaurant, or grocery store away – no work required. Instant gratification. Put simply, we get what we want, when we want it (keep in mind I’m preaching to the middle and upper-class masses when I say that).

So even though our intake has, as a whole, increased, our output is down by a long shot, and our metabolisms have yet to “catch up.” So whether you can eat a feast and be hungry an hour later, or eat an apple and stay full for days, feed your body what it needs, when it needs it. If you’re hungry, EAT! If you’re thirsty, DRINK! (Let’s stick to water, okay?) But if you’re not… well, don’t! 

And remember that if you have a slow metabolism and it drives you crazy, here are a few tips to speed up your metabolism:
  •  Drink tea and coffee (I’m talking about the real stuff here, not Snapple and Starbucks) - Have a couple cups of green tea a day, or freshly brewed coffee with vanilla soymilk and Stevia sweetener – you’ll be amazed at the difference!
  • Perform small workouts throughout the day – even if you set aside an hour or so to exercise, it’s important to keep your body moving as the day goes on. Quick tip? FIDGETING. Fidgeting can burn up to 300 calories in a day. When you’re sitting at your desk, snoring through meetings, or watching TV, FIDGET! Also try setting an alarm for every hour, and when it goes off, take a walk to the water cooler or turn on some music and dance around (if you’re not in public, I mean. Or even if you are... who really cares?). This will keep your blood flowing, your muscles warm, and your brain awake.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables (I know: blah, blah, blah) – but seriously. Every time I sit down for a meal, HALF of my plate is fruits or veggies. The other half of the plate is split into protein and whole grains. This is also a stellar weight-loss tip, because fruits and veggies tend to be pretty low calorie and high fiber, and let’s just say (without getting too graphic), that fiber keeps things moving. You get my drift? You picking up what I’m laying down? Okay, good. Because I really didn’t want to go there.
  • Run - Run like you’re running from the zombie apocalypse. Run like you are running from that kid who pulled your chair our from under you in the first grade. Run like… well, you get the idea. I’m not kidding, when I go for even the lightest morning jog, my metabolism SPEEDS for the rest of the day (as it would with any exercise that gets your heart pumping). It’s actually pretty annoying because I’m constantly sacrificing food to satiate the growling beast that is my stomach.
  • Bulk up – don’t freak out, ladies. Adding some strength-building exercises to your workout routine will produce amazing results for your metabolism. Why? Because muscles burn more calories at rest than fat does. So just having muscles burns calories, and burning calories pumps up that metabolism. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving!
  • Eat frequently – I’m not giving you a free pass to snack all day (DANGEROUS), but it actually works really well for me to eat 5 or 6 small meals a day. My eating times look something like this: 6 a.m., 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m., bedtime snack. Seriously, I eat that often. BUT, here’s what’s important about this rule: make half of every meal/snack fruits or veggies. This will keep you from eating too many calories! Shoot for about 300 calories per meal if you’re going to eat this often, or maybe 400-calorie meals with 200-calorie snacks. What I’m really saying is, find what works for you! And if you’re going to drastically change your diet, count calories for the first week or so to make sure you’re consuming what your body needs – not too much, and not too little. Here are some metabolism-boosting foods:

Here’s the moral of the story: we’re all built differently. Listen to your body, figure out what it’s asking for, and give it what it needs.

Happy hump day! Hah, I can't even type that without laughing.
Kelsie

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