We can’t help you find a way to quit your job and pursue a more active career path, but we can offer some helpful tips and tricks that will maximize your time so you can move as much as possible no matter how busy your work day might be. Think of these tips as exercise extras; little things you can do every day and that if performed as habits over time, will add up to big changes in your overall health and fitness.
Simply put, if you don’t eat enough calories to meet your body’s basic needs on a regular basis, you will lose both fat and muscle mass. And while losing fat may be part of your goal, when it comes to speeding up the metabolism losing muscle mass is not ideal. Plus, as Waybright points out, there are certain instances when under-eating or skipping meals may lead to weight gain. She says that efforts to restrict calories by ignoring appetite can disrupt our hunger hormones and possibly lead to overeating later on. “Studies show that people who are hungry tend to be more likely to reach for high-calorie junk foods instead of making healthy choices, so the initial effort to restrict can backfire,” says Waybright.
The objective of intermittent fasting (IF) is to maintain a “fasted state,” which encourages your body to use stored fat as an energy source rather than the glucose from a recently consumed meal. Those who follow an IF plan eat a normal amount of food every day only within a smaller time frame than what is considered typical. According to Waybright, there’s a good deal of research that supports intermittent fasting as an effective strategy for weight and fat loss. This opposes the concept of “starvation mode,” or the idea that your metabolism will slow down if you leave too much time in between meals. She explained that while there is such a thing as “starvation mode” (where your body might hold onto extra fat if it thinks food won’t be available soon), it won’t be activated by skipping one meal or leaving longer periods between meal times, and that less frequent feedings won’t significantly slow your metabolism.
Waybright says that eating to prevent large spikes in insulin, which cause the body to store fat, is one of the most effective strategies for speeding up your metabolism. She suggests avoiding refined carbohydrates like white flour and sugary drinks (including fruit juices) and choosing nutrient rich foods that are high in protein and fiber.
“Keeping the body sensitive to insulin is also crucial,” says Waybright. “If cells are not responsive to it, the pancreas produces more and more to achieve an effect, which over time leads to diabetes and facilitates weight gain.” She says that regularly engaging in both cardiovascular and weight-bearing exercises is the best way to keep your cells insulin-sensitive. Plus, strength training workouts will increase your muscle mass and as a result, also increase your metabolism.
“Muscle mass raises metabolism,” says Waybright. “When people lose weight by cutting calories alone they almost always lose lean body mass along with fat. This is why it's crucial to do weight-bearing exercise to maintain muscle mass, and ideally eat to support that strenuous exercise.”
This tip from Brown is simple; “Eat higher quality foods such as unprocessed, organic items,” she says. “As long as the food you eat is of higher quality, there is less need to worry about whether the food is ‘good or bad.’”
According to Brown, in addition to eating well, improving your emotional relationship with food is another way you can boost your metabolism. “Many of us multitask while we eat and never feel like we actually ate,” she said. “This makes us feel hungry and unsatisfied. By paying attention to what you are eating and how it tastes, the more aware you will be of hunger levels and if you are full.”
This is another component of learning to eat more mindfully. “The more oxygen you take in while eating, the better your body is able to digest and take in food and nutrients,” says Brown. “This will improve your body’s metabolic power.”
“Stress over food, as well as depriving ourselves of ‘forbidden foods’ releases hormones that are linked to fat storage,” says Brown. “Instead of stressing, eat what you think will ultimately satisfy you and accept and feel good about your decision.” This also includes reducing stress in the other areas of your life, too.
“Whether you eat three meals a day or six, keep the times you eat the same—or around the same time—each day,” says Brown. “This will keep your body burning fat at high levels. When your body doesn’t get food when expected, it switches to protection mode and slows down all bodily processes to conserve energy. When you finally eat, your system is in such a low power state that most of the food is stored as fat instead of burned. Over time, your metabolism will slow down.”
Browns final and best tip, “Find pleasure in the foods you eat. When you are turned on by food, you turn on your metabolism.”