You’re likely aware of the fact that both the quantity and quality of the foods you eat effect your metabolism, or the series of chemical reactions that take place in your body in order to process what you eat.
But did you realize that how you eat (speed, location, time, etc.) also plays a large role in your metabolic functions? According to Lauren Brown, trainer and licensed primary sports nutritionist for Balanced Fitness and Health, many of us disrupt our metabolisms by neglecting these important factors.
She says that everything from the speed at which we eat to the locations and times of our meals affect the hormones that are released in our bodies.
“Hormones impact the digestion process and oftentimes, the food we are eating is stored as fat instead of utilized as energy. That hormonal process could result in a slower metabolism,” she said.
To help make sure you’re keeping your metabolism on a healthy track, she offers the following “metabolic makeover” tips:
- Slow down while eating and take deeper breaths. The more oxygen you take in while eating, the better your body is able to digest and take in food and nutrients. This will improve your body’s metabolic power.
- Be present while eating. Many of us multitask while we eat and never feel like we actually ate. 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.
- Stop stressing about what to eat and if it’s good for you. Stress over food, as well as depriving ourselves of “forbidden foods,” releases hormones that are linked to fat storage. Instead of stressing, eat what you think will ultimately satisfy you and accept and feel good about your decision.
- Eat higher quality foods such as unprocessed, organic items. 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.”
- Be consistent with daily meals and snacks. Whether you eat three meals a day or six, keep the times you eat the same—or around the same time—each day. 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.
- Find pleasure in the foods you eat. When you are turned on by food, you turn on your metabolism.
And for anyone who feels like their metabolism might be in need of an extra boost, in addition to these tips Brown also suggests a simple “detox” program. She suggests eliminating sugary foods and drinks, adding more non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats to your diet.