Recently by Joseph Mercola: The Cholesterol Myth That Is Harming YourHealth
Yahoo Shine suggests eight ways to boost your metabolism and keep unwanted pounds from your waistline. Here are a few of them:
Do Intervals – Periodic fast-paced intervals raise your metabolic rate higher than a steady cardio workout can.
Drink Green Tea – A study found that people who drank three to five cups daily for three months cut 5 percent off their body weight.
Consider Caffeine – Coffee drinkers have a 16 percent higher metabolic rate – but make sure you take it early to avoid sleeping problems.
Build More Muscle – Lean muscle mass boosts your metabolism and makes losing weight more easy.
Pick Up Heavier Weights – Use heavy weights at a very slow rate to break down your muscles. Your metabolism goes up while your body makes muscle repairs.
In related news, the results of an epidemiological study showed that the metabolic syndrome, a condition associated with cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes, is related to a poor diet low in micronutrients.
Researchers examined the relationship between the metabolic syndrome and micronutrients such as folate, zinc and vitamins C, B12 and E. After adjusting for age and sex, they found significant relationships between the metabolic syndrome and two of the micronutrients, vitamins C and E.
“Additionally, [the researchers] observed a significant relationship between the metabolic syndrome and C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of low-grade inflammation that has been associated with cardiovascular disease risk. High CRP blood concentrations were seen in almost half of the population.”
- Yahoo Shine December 28, 2010
- Eurekalert January 2, 2011
- Public Health Nutrition October 19, 2010:1-10. [Epub ahead of print]
Dr. Mercola’s Comments:
A few of the techniques mentioned in the Yahoo article have merit, while others are dubious at best. For example, if your goal is to improve your metabolism, I wouldn’t give much attention to strategies like
- drinking cold water,
- loading up on caffeine or
- gorging at breakfast (which may actually be counterproductive for fat burning),
In all honesty, if you truly want to boost your metabolism, I recommend focusing on what really works, which I’ll discuss in this comment. Sure, thermogenic foods (such as green tea for example) may help, but if you’re really going to do it, why not maximize your chances of success rather than dallying around?
So, quit pretending quick fixes like tea or caffeine will do the work for you, and address the root instead. In this comment, I’ll address three potent natural ways to optimize your metabolism:
- Exercise, particularly high-intensity interval training and strength training (weight lifting)
Are You Getting Enough Nutrients?
If you could choose between diet or exercise, diet would have far more influence on your weight than exercise, but of course you should do both. Many people simply are seriously confused on this issue. They believe that if they are exercising appropriately then they really don’t have to be careful with their food choices. Well this simply is not true.
If you want to lose weight it will be VERY important to eliminate sugar from your diet in all forms. This would be the obvious source of sugars in processed and junk foods, but also hidden ones in apparently healthy foods. What are some of these healthy foods?
Well they all relate to carbohydrates. The first major area is grains, even organic unprocessed whole grains. While these are certainly far better than those that are processed or have bromine added to them as a bleaching agent, it will be important to limit these as they do break down to simple sugars and will frequently contribute to insulin resistance, which is the primary reason that contributes to inability to lose weight.
Most people will not be successful in losing weight if they are consuming large amounts of grains or grain-like products, like corn, pasta, rice and potatoes. Fruit juices should also be avoided and it would be wise to limit your total fructose intake from fruit to below 15 grams per day. You can see the table in a previous article for a detailed breakdown of how many grams of fructose in most fruits.
Another healthy food that should be limited until you reach your ideal weight is milk. Of course I advise the avoidance of all pasteurized dairy but even raw milk, not so much cheese or whey protein, has loads of lactose which is a simple sugar that can impair your ability to lose weight. So drop the milk until you reach your target weight.
Please Remember Nutritional Typing
Ideally, you’ll want to eat a diet tailored to your individual nutritional type, to ensure you’re getting the nutrients your body needs to thrive. The ratios of fats, carbohydrates and protein differs from person to person, and while some thrive on greater amounts of vegetables and very little meat, for example, others will experience deteriorating health unless they eat sufficient amounts of high quality proteins.
To help you determine your nutritional type, I now offer my entire online nutritional typing program, FREE of charge. We previously used to charge $29 for this test and many thousands had purchased the test at this price but we now make it available at no cost to you.
That said, there’s evidence that certain micronutrient deficiencies can significantly contribute to health problems such as metabolic syndrome. (Metabolic syndrome is the name for a collection of disease risk factors caused by insulin resistance, which predispose you to illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.)
One recent study investigating the connection between metabolic syndrome and micronutrients such as folate, zinc, and vitamins B12, C and E, found significant relationships between metabolic syndrome and vitamins C and E deficiency.
Metabolic syndrome has also been linked to vitamin D deficiency in previous research. While nutritional typing prescribes varying amounts of fats, carbs and protein depending on your type, everyone needs micronutrients such as minerals and vitamins – especially vitamin D, which most people are deficient in, regardless of where you live.
So getting optimal sun exposure (or taking an oral supplement) is important, as is making sure you’re eating sufficient amounts of fresh vegetables, if you want to have a healthy metabolism.
Boosting Your Metabolism with Peak 8 Exercises
Over the past decades, the science of exercise has revealed new and intriguing facts about how exercise creates the health benefits we typically associate with it, and why different kinds of exercise will yield different results.
One of the most important findings of late is how you can exercise more efficiently and effectively to maximize results. After all, if there’s one thing people seem to have too little of these days, it’s time.
As it turns out, one of the most effective types of exercises is also the most time-efficient, namely high-intensity interval training such as Peak 8 exercises. Peak 8 can be done in a mere 20 minutes, two to three times a week. (The actual sprinting totals only four minutes per session!)
What’s so great about high-intensity interval training?
Boosting your metabolism and increasing fat loss is just the beginning. It’s also a potent “anti-aging” strategy, as it will naturally increase your body’s production of human growth hormone (HGH). As you reach your 30s, you enter what’s called “somatopause,” when your levels of HGH begin to drop off quite dramatically. This is part of what drives your aging process. Your HGH levels decrease naturally as you age, but people in this age group also tend to fall into increasingly sedentary life styles, which further exacerbate matters.
Regardless of your age, incorporating Peak 8 style exercises can have a dramatic impact on your overall health by improving metabolism and boosting your levels of HGH, also known as “the fitness hormone.” Once you regularly participate in these 20-minute exercises about twice a week, most people notice the following benefits:
- Decrease in body fat
- Improved muscle tone
- Firmer skin and reduces wrinkles
- Increase in energy and sexual desire
- Improved athletic speed and performance
- Ability to achieve your fitness goals much faster
How to Properly Perform Peak 8 Exercises
Another nice thing about Peak 8 exercises is that you can perform them with virtually any type of exercise; with or without equipment. So you require neither access to a gym or exercise equipment, although having them can provide you with a greater variety of options. But you can just as easily perform Peak 8 by walking or running outdoors.
As I mentioned earlier, you only need to do Peak 8 exercises two or three times a week. As a matter of fact, doing it more frequently than that could be counterproductive. Instead of doing it more frequently, you need to make sure you’re really pushing yourself as hard as you can during those two or three weekly sessions.
The key to performing Peak 8 exercises properly is to raise your heart rate up to your anaerobic threshold. Keep pushing at maximum effort for 20 to 30 seconds, and then rest for 90 seconds. Repeat this cycle for a total of eight repetitions.
In this video, Phil Campbell and I demonstrate how it’s done.
Here’s a summary of what a typical peak fitness routine might look like using a recumbent bike:
- Warm up for three minutes
- Exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds. You should be gasping for breath and feel like you couldn’t possibly go on another few seconds
- Recover for 90 seconds, still pedaling, but at slower pace and decreased resistance
- Repeat the high-intensity exercise and recovery 7 more times
For more information, please see this previous article. On a side note, the Yahoo Shine article above recommends eating a big breakfast with plenty of fat to boost metabolism for the rest of the day. However, beware that consuming a high-fat meal prior to doing Peak 8 exercises will actually impede proper HGH production! Since HGH production is a major health benefit of interval training, following that advice would be counterproductive to say the least…
Weight Lifting is Also Important
Contrary to popular belief, weight lifting is not just for hard-core gym rats and exhibitionists. Having more muscle on your frame is actually the best “fat-burning friend” that you will ever have.
One pound of fat takes up five times more space on your body than muscle, which means you can gain a pound of muscle and lose a pound of fat, and while your weight stays the same, you will actually shrink in size. This is because muscle is denser than fat, and takes up less space on your frame, pound for pound. The advantage of gaining more muscle is that it helps you burn more calories, without you having to actually “do” more.
This is because muscle is anabolic and demands energy just to sit on your frame — even when you sleep. For every pound of muscle that you gain, your body will burn approximately 50–70 calories more per day, and burning more calories leads to a reduction of excess fat.
Therefore, weight lifting is another essential part of a healthy fitness routine, regardless of age.
The Connection between Your Metabolism and Your Sleeping Habits
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. The 24-hour circadian rhythms govern fundamental physiological functions in almost all organisms. These circadian clocks are the essential “time-tracking systems” in your body, and when they’re disrupted, poor health through a variety of mechanisms can ensue.
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. So there’s a tightly regulated codependency between your circadian clock and your metabolism and cellular performance.
This also suggests that proper sleep and diet 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.
It’s important to realize that your circadian rhythm evolved over hundreds of generations to align your physiology with your environment, which involves sleeping at night and staying awake during daylight hours. If you deprive yourself of enough hours of sleep, you’re effectively disrupting your biological processes, including those regulating your metabolism.
In addition, lack of sleep has been shown to affect levels of leptin and ghrelin, two hormones linked with appetite and eating behavior. When you are sleep deprived, your body decreases production of leptin, the hormone that tells your brain there is no need for more food. At the same time it increases levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger.
The end result is decreased satiety, hunger pangs, and a sluggish metabolism…
How to Tune Your Body Clock for Optimal Health
In order to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm, it’s important to have consistent regular exposure to bright light during the day and sleep in absolute darkness at night. To ensure complete darkness, I highly recommend using blackout shades or drapes and to turn off all the lights in your room, including night lights.
As for the number of hours of sleep, there’s no one-size-fits-all number of prescribed hours. The right amount for you is based on your individual sleep requirements, although there’s some evidence indicating that somewhere around seven hours a night is ideal from a general health perspective.
Still, numerous factors can influence the amount of sleep you need, such as pregnancy, illness and stress levels, for example. As a general guideline, if you feel sluggish and foggy-headed upon waking, you’re likely not getting enough sleep, or the quality of your sleep is not very good.
For helpful guidance on how to improve your sleep, please review my 33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep.
Unfortunately, many people are quick to jump on the pill wagon once they start having sleep problems. But sleeping pills come with numerous side effects and can cause more harm than good. Better alternatives include using the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), listening to a brainwave synchronization tape, or trying a natural remedy that can do the job without the side effects.
More Helpful Weight Loss Tips
Once you find a few healthy high-quality meals it is perfectly acceptable to eat those same meals over and over again. You can vary it with herbs and spices. Please make sure that you are drinking large quantities of clean water as this will prevent you from getting dehydrated and also facilitate any detoxification process that your body is going through.
An interesting twist to losing weight is explained by Tim Ferriss in his recent book The Four-Hour Body suggests it is helpful to have one-day-a-week where you are completely off your ideal food choices. On that day you can eat all the food you want.
Personally I would recommend to still make it healthy choices, like whole grain breads instead of white processed breads. You can have as much fruit as you want during this one day a week binge day. The KEY though is to restrict the off-the-program meals down to one day per week.
This will dramatically improve your compliance and ability to stick with the program and may have some metabolic benefits by not down-regulating your thyroid.
Healthy Metabolism is a Sign of Good Health
In the end, having a healthy metabolism is the beneficial outcome of having a healthy lifestyle – not the result of frequenting Starbucks every morning. There are few, if any, shortcuts.
Exercising, with a focus on interval training and building muscle, eating a nutritious diet and getting a healthy amount of sun exposure, along with solid sleeping habits can go a long way toward optimizing your metabolism and building a solid foundation for good health.