Your metabolism is the total of all the biochemical reactions involved in maintaining life.
Typically, when discussing metabolism in the context of fitness and nutrition, we think of it as the process by which the body converts the food we eat and drink into usable energy (ATP).
If you’ve taken part in a transformation challenge or tried to lose weight on your own, you’ve no doubt heard a great deal about metabolism, and how maintaining a high metabolism is “better” for weight loss.
You may have also heard that some people have “broken” their metabolism as a result of dieting for too long or using too extreme an approach.
But, is it really possible to “break” your metabolism, and (if so) how do we fix or reset your metabolism.
We’ll answer all those questions and more ahead!
Why is Metabolism Important?
As we mentioned above, metabolism is the sum total of all the chemical reactions in the body performed to sustain life.
There are multiple components to your metabolism, including:
- Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) -- the number of calories your body burns if you only laid in bed all day
- Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF) -- the number of calories your body burns digesting and absorbing the food you eat
- Thermic Effect of Activity (TEA) -- the number of calories burned during structured physical activity (i.e. exercise)
- Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) -- the number of calories burned during non-structured physical activity (walking the dog, cleaning the house, cooking, etc.).
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) makes up the biggest portion of your metabolism, and it is the component most people are looking to “boost” or reset.
However, resetting your BMR isn’t the easiest feat to accomplish as it is affected by a number of things, including:
- Body Composition
- And more
That being said, there are a few simple things you can do each day to increase your metabolic rate and burn more calories.
How to Reset Metabolism
Now, we should begin this section by saying that you can’t actually “reset” your metabolism as you would your smartphone or laptop computer -- the human body doesn’t work that way.
What you can do is make a few simple life changes that boost or increase your metabolism.
#1 Eat Protein
Protein is the king of macronutrients when we’re talking about boosting metabolism and improving body composition.
Furthermore, protein is also highly satiating, which means it helps you feel full. This is especially important for people who constantly find themselves feeling hungry when dieting
Lastly, protein has the highest thermic effect of feeding of all the macronutrients. This means that your body has to expend more energy (burn more calories) digesting protein than it does carbohydrates or fats.
So, if you want to increase how many calories your body burns throughout the day, make sure you’re consuming enough protein. A good rule of thumb for those looking to loose fat and build muscle is 1 gram per pound of bodyweight.
One easy way to ensure you’re getting enough protein each day is to have protein before and after training. Our favorite way to get some much needed post workout protein is to mix up a serving of 1UP Whey Protein or 1UP ISO Protein and drink it immediately after training
Calories burned during exercise is one of the four key pillars of metabolism.
Therefore, it stands to reason that by increasing the amount of exercise you do during the week, you will naturally increase your metabolism.
What’s really cool is that certain forms of exercise (intense ones like HIIT, resistance training, etc) have been shown to not only boost metabolism during the workout but for many hours (24-72 hours after exercise) afterwards.
This means that your body will burn more calories even while you’re resting!
The reason for this increased calorie-burning post workout is due to EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption).
Without getting too technical, EPOC basically accounts for the extra oxygen the body has to consume in order to restore homeostasis following intense exercise -- muscle repair, lactic acid recycling, hormone balancing, etc.
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#3 Clean Up Your Diet
Eating a diet full of highly processed, packaged foods rich in salt, sugar, and fat isn’t doing your metabolism any favors, nor is it helping your performance, recovery, or sleep.
Eliminating the junk and increasing your intake of nutrient-rich “metabolism-boosting” foods will.
Essentially, you want your diet to consist of whole foods loaded with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols. This means the majority of your nutrition plan should consist of:
These foods are packed with essential micronutrients that the body uses to run optimally -- meaning it burns more calories.
These foods also help your body recover better, so you can continue to push harder in your workouts -- which again boosts metabolism.
Also make sure to include foods in your diet that are high in iodine, as iodine plays a vital role in proper thyroid function (and by proxy metabolic function).
Some of our favorite sources of iodine in the diet are shellfish like shrimp and seaweed.
If you’re not eating enough veggies and fruits every day (and most people aren’t) then you should try 1UP Greens & Reds Superfood, packed with 19 organic fruits and veggies in every scoop
The human body is made up 60% water, and water plays a vital role in just about every metabolic process that occurs in the body.
Being in a chronic state of dehydration severely impairs the body’s ability to run efficiently, which stunts metabolism.
Make sure you’re consuming enough water to support the needs of your body, and if you exercise intensely, make doubly sure to stay adequately hydrated, as your water needs will be significantly greater than sedentary individuals.
Also consume BCAA/EAA during exercise hydrate your muscles for best performance and recovery
#5 Get Enough Sleep
If there’s one constant piece of advice we could give everyone, it would be to get enough sleep.
Sleep is so vital to your success, no matter what your goals, that it bears repeating over and over again.
- Reduces anabolism (muscle growth)
- Increases catabolism (muscle breakdown)
- Decreases satiety
- Increases feelings of hunger
- Increases cortisol and stress
- Reduces recovery
- Impairs exercise performance
- Reduces cognitive function
- Promotes fat gain
Basically, everything you wouldn’t want to happen during your transformation challenge does happen when you don’t get enough sleep.
Aim to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
That starts with good sleep hygiene, which entails:
- Setting a bedtime
- Avoiding blue light (tv, phones, laptops, tablets, LEDs) two hours before bed
- Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake in the hours before bed
- Making your room dark and cool
- Wearing loose fitting clothes
- Having comfortable sheets and pillows
- Avoiding stressors immediately before bed (social media, news, text messages, etc)
These products contain natural, non-habit forming ingredients that promote relaxation and calm without leaving you feeling groggy in the morning.
#6 Improve Stress Management
Chronic stress is a killer, not only to metabolism, but to individuals as well.
Sleep deprivation is one of the worst stressors on the body, but it’s not the only one individuals deal with on a daily basis.
Traffic, bills, overbearing bosses, relationships all add to stress levels, and they can also torpedo metabolism.
While you may not be able to completely avoid or eliminate all sources of stress from your life, you can take steps to reduce your exposure to them and improve how you handle stress.
Practicing yoga, meditation, and breathing drills can help improve stress management.
So too does something as simple as removing yourself from the situation and going on a walk in nature.
Even listening to calming music or having a cup of herbal tea (chamomile, for instance) can do wonders to take the edge off and lower your stress.
Use one, two, or all of these techniques to help keep stress in check and metabolism high.
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Extreme dieting and stress can hurt metabolism, making it harder to lose weight and get the results you want from your nutrition and training program.
Fortunately, there are a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make (starting right now) to “reset” your metabolism and get back on the path to success.
Try implementing one or two at a time to your day and slowly add others in, until you’ve got your daily life optimized to support a healthy metabolism!