How many people do you know who eat healthy, work out at a ferocious pace, and are very health conscious – but continue to struggle to stay in shape? This is actually much more common than you may think, and I see many people walk into my clinic who are just like this. Can you imagine continuing at this pace for a number of months or even years – and not see any results? How frustrating would that be???
There’s a great saying by Albert Einstein regarding the definition of Insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If this sounds like you, it’s time to change your approach.
Those who have taken a proactive interest in healthy living, are likely quite familiar with the catch phrase “Boost your metabolism”. There are many claims of nutrients/substances that can increase your metabolism to ‘burn fat’ or to ‘get more energy’ – however readers beware. Be sure to filter out fact from fiction, and be sure to do your homework before you heed every bit of advice you hear, read, or see online. Sufficed to say it is imperative that whatever advice you take, be sure any claims are based on peer-reviewed, scientific literature. The good news is that there are ways to naturally boost each and every one of our metabolic pathways. The catch –WE ARE ALL BIOCHEMICALLY UNIQUE. As a result, the best results are found via detailed functional medicine analysis followed up with a customized program tailored to your unique biochemical requirements. That being said, below are some fundamental tips to benefit in boosting almost all metabolic types. Enjoy applying these powerful steps to make 2014 your fittest year yet!
Researchers have once again identified the power of nutrition in preventing illness, and maximising quality of life. When it comes to boosting your metabolism, the first and foremost topic to address is – nutrition. Scientists have examined the relationship with micronutrients such as folate, l-carnitine, l-arginine, zinc, omega 3’s, and vitamins C, B12 and E. After adjusting for age and sex, they found significant relationships between deficiencies in these key nutrients and metabolic rate. It is important to realize that these are not the only nutrients involved – rather they represent a microcosm of the nutrient spectrum of how essential it is to feed your body the optimal fuel to keep your high performing metabolic engine working efficiently!
Mixing in fast-paced intervals raises your metabolic rate higher than doing a steady cardio workout, and will continue to do so up to an hour after you’re done. An Australian study also found that women who did intervals while they were biking lost three times as much fat as those who worked out at a steady pace. If you’re a walker, simply walk at your normal pace for 1 to 2 minutes, then speed-walk for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat the sequence 10 to 15 times. In addition, by adding more weights to your workout you can increase your muscle mass which will literally increase your fat burning when you sleep. Don’t worry ladies, increasing muscle mass does not mean you will look like Rambo. Rather, it will result in more muscle density, which will give tighter and leaner results.
While most will benefit from quitting the java from time to time, there is some merit in drinking Green Tea regularly. Researchers are showing what the Chinese have been saying for over 4000 years – in that this hot drink is helpful in keeping us healthy and LEAN. Research has isolated compounds in Green Tea, one of them in particular, epigallocatechin gallate (or EGCG for short), that has been found to stimulate the metabolism and accelerate weight loss. EGCG stimulates the central nervous system and causes fat to be released into the blood stream for the body to use as fuel. Go Green!
Let’s face it – hormones are big. With books from the likes of hormone enthusiast Suzanne Somers reaching mass numbers, more and more people are becoming aware of the power of these critical molecules in our body. Trendy books aside, researchers are fascinated with the roles hormones play not only in our metabolic pathways, but also in the prevention of disease and optimal aging. Without hormones we simply would not survive. With slight changes to our hormone levels, large amounts of physiological, mental, and emotional changes can result. The leading researchers in this field are discovering fascinating tools to properly test, and correct and imbalances causing a sluggish metabolism. When boosting your metabolism, it is important to understand your hormones in detail before any treatment ensues. Optimal adrenal and thyroid and sex hormones are paramount to achieving good health and fitness. Be sure to work with a doctor well-versed in functional medicine who can run all of these for you. The following is my hormone must-do checklist:
Blood Tests: TSH, FREE T3/T4, TPO, Anti-Thyroglobulin, Fasting Insulin.
Saliva Tests: DHEA, 4 pt Cortisol, Testosterone, Estrogen, Progesterone.
Many are still in the dark about the profound implications of sleep, or lack thereof. But your biological rhythm of sleeping and waking, also known as your circadian rhythm, is intricately tied to your metabolism and cannot be overlooked. In terms of your metabolism, researchers have discovered that an enzyme protein–which is an essential molecular gear of the circadian machinery–interacts with a protein that senses cell energy levels and modulates metabolism and aging. This suggests that proper sleep may help maintain or rebuild the balance between your circadian clock and your metabolism, and could also help explain why lack of rest or disruption of normal sleep patterns can increase hunger, leading to obesity-related illnesses and accelerated aging. If you deprive yourself of enough hours of sleep, you’re effectively disrupting your biological processes, including those regulating your metabolism. Aim for 7 hours of quality sleep per night and to hit the hay before 11pm.
Your body needs protein to maintain lean muscle. In a 2006 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “The Underappreciated Role of Muscle in Health and Disease,” researchers argued that the present recommended daily allowance of protein, 0.36 grams per pound of body weight, was established using obsolete data and is woefully inadequate for an individual doing resistance training. To clarify, protein does not just mean animal sources – protein comes in many forms! Researchers now recommend an amount between 0.8 and 1 gram per pound of body weight. Add a serving, like 3 ounces of lean meat, 2 tablespoons of nuts, or 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt, to every meal and snack. Plus, research showed that protein can up post-meal calorie burn by as much as 35 percent!
Dieting is a temporary fix. Period. Often, fad diets that are marketed in droves often slow down the very thing we are trying to speed up – metabolism. Don’t get me wrong, eating healthy is not only the key to optimal weight, but also a large part of preventing and treating the chronic disease epidemic facing our society today. If you want to burn the pounds, make sure you keep your engine fired up with small, healthy meals throughout the day. If we deprive our body of food, the brain goes into ‘storage mode’ as if you’re on a deserted island with no food for months. The next meal is stored as fat! 5-6 small meals are a good start.
It turns out that capsaicin, the compound that gives chilli peppers their fiery taste, can also fire up your metabolism. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, eating about 1 tablespoon of chopped red or green chillies boosts your body’s production of heat and the activity of your sympathetic nervous system (responsible for our fight-or-flight response). The result: a temporary metabolism spike of about 23%. Stock up on chillies to add to your meals – but keep a glass of water handy…
Canadian researchers reported that dieters with the most organochlorines (pollutants from pesticides, which are stored in fat cells) experienced a larger reduction in metabolic rate. In other words, pesticides make it harder to lose pounds. Other research hints that pesticides can trigger weight gain not only by slowing down the fat burning process, but hanging on to excess water as well. Of course, it’s not always easy to find–or to afford–a whole bunch of organic produce. So you need to know when organic counts, and when it’s not that important. Organic onions, avocados, grapefruit? Not necessary. But choose organic when buying celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, kale or collard greens, cherries, potatoes, and imported grapes; they tend to have the highest levels of pesticides.
Yes, you heard me right. Fat is good for us, and unfortunately we’ve been fed a load of garbage when told to eat a low fat diet to obtain our best weight and optimal health. Fat is required for the production of hormones, optimal brain cell function. We have to eat fat to lose fat. However, not all fats are created equal and not all fats are healthy. Many healthy fats exist, but for one of the best fats to boost a sluggish metabolism is Non-hydrogenated Coconut Oil. This fat is a saturated fat – but don’t be alarmed – this type of saturated fat is actually very good for you. There are 3 types of saturated fats (short, medium, and long chain fats). Medium-chain saturated fats (such as Coconut oil), promotes healthy weight loss by encouraging fat burning by recruiting fat cells. Ultimately, adding healthy fats to your daily regime helps to crank up your metabolism into a fat burning machine!
Dr. John Dempster, N.D. obtained his Naturopathic Medical license in Ontario and is a member of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OAND) and the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND).
As the owner of The Dempster Clinic - Center for Functional Medicine in Toronto, ON, he practices family medicine with focuses in cancer treatment and prevention, diabetes treatment, treatment of digestive disorders, prevention and treatment of heart disease and the treatment and performance of endurance athletes.
Dr. Dempster believes that healing comes from within, and that the body has an innate capacity to heal itself. He encourages and empowers each individual with new skills to achieve their health goals.