To understand whether or not you can speed up or slow down your metabolism, you must first understand what metabolism is. "The food you eat is either stored in your body or used as fuel," explains functional medicine doctor and clinical nutritionist William Cole, DC, on MindBodyGreen. "Your metabolism is the process in your body that turns food into usable energy, so if your metabolism is slow, you're going to have a harder time 'burning off' those calories, and they will instead be stored in your fat cells."
In other words, if you stick to a healthy diet, your metabolism will run more efficiently than if you fuel your body with sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed food. In Cole's professional opinion, you can "hack" your way to a more efficient metabolism by making healthy lifestyle choices. Read up on what he suggests below.
Eat more healthy fats. "Healthy fats are the building blocks for sustainable blood sugar and weight management," writes Cole. "Your body uses glucose from sugar and carbs for energy. But once that is used up, your body starts to use fat, which helps you lose weight and maintain muscle tissue." He suggests loading up on avocados, coconut oil, and fatty fish like salmon and trout.
Try strength training. "Muscle uses more energy than fat, so it can be beneficial to incorporate strength training into your workout routine," he explains. One study even found that building muscle boosts your resting metabolic rate, which means you burn more calories overall.
Drink tea. Some warm beverages like green tea contain catechins, which are "naturally occurring thermogenic nutrients" that raise your body temperature and can increase the number of calories you burn. "Just by regularly sipping on green tea throughout your day you can increase your metabolism by 4 to 5% and increase fat burning by 10 to 16%," he adds.
Heal your gut. Unsurprisingly, the all-powerful gut also affects your metabolism. "Without the proper balance of bacteria in your microbiome, it can lead to a slowed metabolism and increased weight," explains Cole. He references one study that found that placing microbiome samples from obese mice into the guts of neutral mice made them gain weight and develop insulin resistance. "Make sure you have enough good bacteria in your gut by supplementing with probiotic-rich foods like kefir, sauerkraut, and probiotics," he concludes.
Head over to MindBodyGreen for more from Cole, and share your thoughts on so-called "metabolism hacking" below.