YOUR METABOLISM IS GOING SLOW…
‘Boost your metabolism!’ is a popular headline, promising effort-free ways to rev up your body’s calorie burn, but unfortunately it’s not that simple. Research has proven what you have probably noticed: some people just burn calories faster than others. They can pig out with abandon while others only have to look at a muffin to put on 10lb. The science shows certain factors affecting your metabolism are hard-wired. Gender is one: men’s tendency to have more muscle than women means their metabolism is three to 10 per cent higher, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Age can also work against you, as your basal metabolic rate, or BMR (the number of calories your body burns just to keep your vital organs ticking over), drops between three and five per cent per decade after you turn 18.
You can’t change your genes or age, but there are certain ways you can rev up your metabolic burn. First, get enough sleep: Research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found people who didn’t get enough sleep tended to eat more, while other research shows sleeping less than six hours per night means a higher risk of being overweight.
Once you’ve rested, hit the gym: each pound of muscle burns up to seven calories per day, compared with just two calories burned by one pound of fat. ‘If you’ve a sluggish metabolism, the best way to make an impact is to increase your muscle mass,’ says nutritionist Kim Larson. See no. 11 (p46) for the best body-weight exercises for runners.
Ingredients such as chilli, cinnamon, caffeine and green tea are associated with boosting metabolism. And research has shown that these foods do have a slight, short-term effect so they are worth adding to your menu. But as the effect on metabolism is minimal, Larson says you’re better off focusing on burning calories through physical activity. The faster you run, the more calories you burn per minute. This might not boost your BMR, but it will increase calorie burn, even after you’ve stopped running. See no. 9 (p45) for more on how you can add some speed to your running regime.