Fire up your body’s metabolism, lose body fat. But how? Our culture promotes the idea of eating three square meals a day, avoiding between-meal snacks, and not eating between dinner and bedtime. No wonder we’re confused, frustrated, and at our wits end. Fire up your metabolism with the correct information and you’ll build lean muscle, burn fat, and stay energized to masterfully complete all of your activities of daily living. And more!
The Thermic Effect
The thermic effect is when the body digests food, it has to work to get it broken down into a usable form. Every time you eat, your body has to stoke the furnace to break that food down. This does not mean you should eat huge meals every three or four hours, it means you should eat a lean proteins, high-fiber carbs, and healthy fats every three or four hours, in portions that are correct for your weight and activity level. When it comes to the number of meals, less is not more. In fact, more meals, means more metabolic revving, so eat wisely, but eat up.
Strategies to Boost Metabolism
Disregard what you see all over social media. You should regulate your blood sugar levels by eating more, not less, in order to sustain energy, build lean muscle mass. You should consume five to six small- to medium-size meals or snacks each day. These meals and snacks should be consumed every three hours. You should try to “graze” all day, instead of sitting down for three massive feedings. It’s possible to fit in six meals a day regardless of your job or lifestyle. Remember you don’t have to sit down at a lunch table with a towel tucked in for those “meals”. Three of those meals should be nutrient-dense meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), and three should just be snacks; one or two of which might just be your pre- and post-training meals. By eating more often, your traditional breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be less calorie meals. The benefits of eating five to six small meals per day would be controlling your blood sugar levels which in turn will allow you to concentrate better and will help control your appetite and harmful cravings. Also eating frequently is like constantly adding fuel to your car. You can’t drive all day on $2 worth of gas. Consuming more calories fuels your body all day long to fire up your metabolism and burns even more calories every time you eat. By not fueling your body throughout the day is like trying to drive 60 miles on $2 of gas. Those six smaller meals will keep your body running at peak energy levels all day long. Plus, eating calories frequently will keep you from overeating.
When you wake up in the morning, your metabolism is running at the lowest metabolic rate of the entire day. Basically, your body is running on fumes. The second you eat something, your body cranks into gear and metabolically starts working at a higher rate. Your morning shower may wake up your mind, but breakfast wakes up your metabolism.
Build Lean Muscle
Many people try to get thin by not eating. They deprive their bodies of nutrients, and while they might look healthy, they have dangerous blood profiles and a high ratio of fat to lean muscle. Their bodies are what we call “skinny fat”. The last thing you want to do is lose lean mass. After all, you train hard to build muscle, which produces power, stabilizes joints, promotes movement, and is critical for optimal performance throughout life, not to mention on the athletic field. Moreover, the average person loses a pound of lean mass per year, so it’s imperative to take action to maintain your muscle. What’s more, every pound of muscle you pack on requires approximately 20 additional calories. So, add muscle and more of your food will go towards sustaining your physique. If you don’t eat often, the most readily available substance for the body to consume is muscle. There’s a misconception that the body first eats away its fat. But the body is remarkably resistant to fat loss and will turn to its lean muscle first, a process known as catabolism, keeping stored body fat in reserve as long as necessary. In other words, eating less often can actually waste muscle.
Fuel with Protein
You should include a lean protein source with every meal. Protein has the highest “thermic effect” of all the macronutrients. To use the analogy that frequent eating is like throwing wood on a fire, when you eat protein, it is like throwing lighter fluid onto that fire. So, include a lean protein source with every meal to get a little extra burst of metabolic power.