What can I do to speed up my metabolism?

All Woman

Dear Donovan,

Is it true that some people naturally lose weight faster than others?

If so, what can I do to get into this category? My sisters have never had to diet or exercise and yet they remain svelte, while I look like livestock if I'm not at the gym at least three days per week and constantly on a diet.

What can I do to speed up my metabolism to match theirs, especially since we all share the same gene pool?

Many of us can relate to your situation. Most individuals have at least one family member or friend, who, without much effort, is able to maintain a slim body, while others have to literally kill themselves with exercise and dieting in order to prevent massive weight gain.

This doesn't look fair at all. It is a known fact that poor diet and small amounts of exercise can lead to weight gain. However, how much and where our body stores fat, as well as how quickly it releases this fat might also be other factors. Overall, some individuals have a tendency to gain weight and keep it on longer than others.

It should be noted that how much fat your body stores and how quickly you lose weight may be greatly influenced by your genetic code. Studies of families have provided evidence for the contribution of genes in weight gain and fat storage. Additionally, scientists have identified a gene mutation that specifically tells the body to store more fat than necessary.

This gene mutation might have accrued at a time in our history when food was scarce. If there was a disaster of some kind, the fatter individuals were more likely to live, while the slimmer ones would die more quickly. However, for the most part, food is no longer scarce and our perception of fat and fat people is more negative.

It is thought that a percentage of our population is still carrying this gene. It is a general idea that this gene works at the level of the appetite control centres in the brain. However, it is not known exactly how this gene works in weight gain and fat storage.

It should be noted that more than 100 genes have been implicated in weight gain and fat storage.

I see from your letter that you would like to keep off the weight without much effort, like your sisters. However, I must point out that although you are sisters, you will not both have all the same genes. Also, there may be differences between your lifestyle and that of your sisters.

Scientists are still trying to figure out to what extent lifestyle and genes impact weight gain and the ease at which the body loses weight. However, from studies using low-calorie diets, researchers have been able to categorise body types into two types: “Thrifty” and “spendthrift”.

A thrifty body will try to hold on to its fat on a low-calorie diet, while a spendthrift body type will lose weight fairly easily on a low-calorie diet. However, many weight management professionals are of the view that gaining weight may be a fraction of your metabolism and your metabolic rate; basically, your metabolism gives us an idea of all chemical reactions that occur in the body.

On the other hand, the metabolic rate gives us an idea of how many calories the body burns. The higher the metabolic rate, the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off. Additionally, having a higher metabolic rate can also make you feel more energetic.

Different individuals will have different metabolic rates, and that will determine how quickly or slowly they will lose or gain weight. In your case, you have found out that eating better and exercising will help you to keep the weight off. However, there are some other natural things that you can incorporate in order to increase your metabolic rate.

You could eat protein at your major meals. Protein will provide the extra calories to digest and process the nutrients in your meals. This is normally referred to as the thermic effect of food. Protein is able to increase the metabolic rate by 15-30 per cent. Protein can also make you feel full.

Additionally, doing muscle building-type exercises and building muscles might also be helpful. It is a known fact that muscles are more metabolically active than fat. So, building muscles can increase the metabolic rate.

Drinking green or oolong tea can also help the body convert some of the stored fat to free fatty acids. This can increase the fat burn process by 10-17 per cent. Studies have also shown that drinking water, especially cool or cold water, can help to temporarily increase the metabolic rate. Cool or cold water requires energy to become warm; this warming process increases the metabolic rate. Water can also make you feel full.

Studies have also shown that the caffeine in coffee and some other teas can increase the metabolic rate up to 11 per cent. Eating pepper can also increase the metabolic rate. Peppers contain capsicin, which is known to speed up the metabolic rate.

It is also important to get proper sleep; lack of sleep can affect the brain negatively, which can slow down the metabolic rate.

We are not all the same in what we need to do to maintain a healthy weight and fitness so we just have to do what we must in order to keep the weight off and be healthy.

Good luck.

We will answer your weight-related questions

Are you struggling to lose weight or just need some advice on living a healthier life? Tell us about your health issues and we'll have nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant answer them for you. Grant has over 12 years' experience in the fitness industry and is the owner of DG's Nutrition and Wellness Centre, 39 Lady Musgrave Road. Call him at 876-286-1363. E-mail questions to clarkep@jamaicaobserver.com.




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