Increasing your metabolism is a vital part of losing weight and enabling you to eat plenty of food whilst having lots of energy.
A common myth is that larger people have slower metabolisms than thinner people. This is usually not the case. Generally a person losing a lot of weight will drop the pounds fairly quickly at the beginning but then reach a 'plateau' as their metabolism slows down to enable their body to store onto energy in case of perceived food shortage, a survival mechanism. To push past the plateau, without having to starve yourself further, you need to speed up your metabolism so that you can burn more calories doing even the simplest of things (yes, even sleeping).
Our gym manager, who gave the seminar, proposed three key steps:
1) Detox (but not the faddy diet kind of 'Detox')
He pointed out that it is more important to carry out the first stage, followed by the second stage than it is to just jump straight into stage 3. He used the fantastic metaphor of 'building a house of health' whereby detoxing is the foundations, the walls are nutrition and the roof is exercise.
To break the steps down a little more:
Detox - or 'cut the CRAP' (caffeine, refine sugar, additives, preservatives)- so as well as cutting coffee and fizzy drinks, I would add alcohol to this list as it often contains most of the above. Swap these drinks for water, at least 80% of the time, and you'll already start to see the pounds drop off!
By cutting the CRAP, you give your liver less to process so that it can focus on burning fat instead of storing it in your lymphatic system. These zones are the neck, arms, middle, bum and thighs otherwise known as everyone's typical 'problem areas'. Remember though: you can't spot reduce fat, only general weight loss will help these problem zones.
Meanwhile, you can cut down on the toxins going into your body and getting stored under the skin - otherwise known as cellulite, and even thing people can get this if they eat a diet full of toxins.
Nutrition - This is all about striking that balance between the 3 macronutrients; fat, carbohydrates and protein. Each of these is vital part of a healthy diet and neither one of them should be feared or avoided (as fat often was in the 90s and carbs are nowadays). A good, easy-to-understand book about nutrition basics is 'Weight Loss Kit For Dummies' by Carol Ann Rinzler.
I also highly recommend using the MyFitnessPal app (or the website) to log your food and track your individual macronutrient targets.
Exercise - When it comes to exercise, remember FITT,
- Frequency - 3-5 days a week
- Intensity - between 60-80% of your maximum heart rate (measured with a HRM or the 'talk test' i.e. you should still be able to hold a conversation when working out)
- Timing - anywhere between 20-60 minutes for each individual session
- Type -a mixture of both cardiovascular (for the heart) and resistance (for building muscle which then burns more calories!)
So there you have the three stages of boosting you metabolism!
On a final note, I would add on that it is important to put these three stages into action over time, instead of all at once. That way you give yourself time to adjust physically and psychologically to the changes and are more likely to sustain them. Also, remember that you can still have treats, but major emphasis is placed on moderation.