For a Leaner, More Muscular Body…5 Ways to Boost Metabolism
***This post was one I originally wrote back in 2014, but the principles still apply as is the case with all of the most important principles when it comes to health, performance and fitness.
Sometimes even when we are doing mostly the right things when it comes to training and nutrition, we unfortunately don’t achieve our body composition goals (more muscle and less fat). And besides the aesthetic piece to body composition (we all want to look good naked), having more muscle and less fat is advantageous when it comes to overall markers of health and longevity, as well as performance in sports and life.
To achieve and maintain a leaner and more muscular composition, there are a few things you should do in order to enhance your metabolic rate. The greater your metabolic rate the easier it will be to get and stay lean.
With that, below are 5 keys to enhancing your metabolic rate…let’s do this!
5 Ways to Boost Metabolism
While I am all about working hard for everything that you get, it is nice when positive strides are being made even when you are just chillin’ on a lake boat with a refreshing beverage in hand…or whatever your idea of pure relaxation is (I’m a lake guy, not a beach guy)!
And this is exactly what is happening when your body’s metabolic rate is maximized.
Whether our individual fitness goals include better overall health, enhanced athletic performance or shedding a few unwanted pounds, all of us wouldn’t mind being (or staying) lean and looking good naked.
Getting lean takes some leg work (literally and figuratively), and there are a few strategies that you can implement to help enhance the process by boosting your metabolic rate.
Why should you be aiming for a higher metabolic rate?
For one, a higher metabolic rate allows the body to breakdown (during training) and recover more efficiently as long as nutrient levels are adequate. This process is what progressive training is all about, and a higher metabolic rate is a must for this to happen optimally.
Second, a higher metabolic rate means that you are burning more calories throughout the day, during activity or when you are just relaxing. This provides for an easier path to obtaining and maintaining a lean and athletic body. It also allows us to have a little more leeway with the quantity of food we consume, which is a nice thing when trying to live a life that is healthy but also enjoyable!
Have you ever noticed that the lean, muscular dude can eat whatever he wants, or so it seems?
Well, because he has worked to achieve a lean and muscular body, it is easier for him to burn off the extra calories and nutrients from a larger meal, or a meal that contains some “not so healthy” options. But, don’t get me wrong, he can’t do this forever or he will loose what he has worked for.
So with that, what are some ways you can your boost metabolic rate and burn more calories even when you are not training? Even when you are instead watching some of America’s most out of shape people get a whoopin’ on TV…The Biggest Loser is entertaining, but if your “trainer” is taking a ride on your back, well…
5 Ways to Enhance Metabolic Rate…aka Burn More Calories Daily
1) Resistance train and gain muscle
Muscle is a metabolic tissue (utilizes calories) and the more muscle you have the higher your metabolic rate becomes. Resistance training promotes muscle growth.
More muscle will not only boost metabolism, but it will allow you to gain more strength and set you up for greater performance (not to mention a more aesthetically pleasing physique). Shoot for 3-5 quality sessions per week to maximize your muscle growing potential.
These sessions should include a mix of heavy compound exercises that work in the 3-6 rep ranges, moderately heavy compound exercises that cover reps from 6-12 reps, and lighter compound and isolation exercises that span the rep ranges between 12-20+ reps for optimal results.
2) Start your morning with cold water and movement
Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to take a cold shower first thing in the morning, although this is a great way to wake up…
What I am suggesting that you drink 16 oz of cold water first thing after waking up. Follow that up with a brisk walk, 5-10 minute foam rolling session or body weight circuit and you are well on your way to getting your metabolism revved up, as well as keeping your body hydrated and “blood flowin”…both which are important for a higher metabolic rate.
Another nice benefit of drinking water before you eat is that it will help increase levels of satiety since the greater volume in the stomach helps stimulate a feeling of fullness…a good thing if you struggle with portion sizes.
3) Consume mainly veggies and lean protein
“Go figure…You’re talking about a ‘diet’ that is comprised of mainly veggies and lean protein!”
Yes, yes I am!
Processed foods are in no way conducive to obtaining, maintaining or enhancing a higher metabolic rate. Most contain trans-fat, copious amounts of added sugar and other ingredients that require you to sound them out like a third grader…classic!
All of these ingredients wreak havoc on the body and its systems. So if you want to optimally boost metabolism, don’t consume foods that will leave you stuttering like a chubby, curly haired grade schooler.
Instead opt for meals that are based around a lean protein source (think chicken breast, lean beef, turkey, high quality cut of steak, eggs, etc.) and fill most of the rest of your plate with veggies (salad, cooked veggies, sautéed veggies, etc.). Then add in a small amount of healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, etc.) and boom! Here is a great visual from the team over at Precision Nutrition.
If you are constantly in “go mode” (also known as a sympathetic state) your body does not have a chance to relax and regenerate. Although a sympathetic state encourages caloric expenditure, if you are in this state for too long your metabolism will become compromised as hormonal levels are out of balance (out of equilibrium) and your body tries to combat this by “shutting it down.”
During your day try to take 20 minutes where you are doing nothing but relaxing (going for a slow walk, reading a book, taking a power nap, taking a warm shower or bath, etc.)…focus on nothing!
And then when it comes to getting some shut eye help yourself out by incorporating good sleep hygiene. Try this…
- Shut off electronics 1 hour before your head hits the pillow (or at the very least dim the screens and turn down the volume).
- Foam roll and stretch as this will help stimulate a parasympathetic state (rest and digest)…take 5-10 minutes.
- Read…mainly fiction. It is really hard for me to read fiction as I am always looking for some good knowledge bombs, but getting lost in a story rather than trying to figure out how the information you are reading can help you be a better coach, husband, person, etc. sets you up for a better state of relaxation.
- Make sure the room is dark, on the colder side and without noise (or use white noise). Light, warm temperatures and noise all decrease your levels of quality sleep…work to reduce them! Try black out curtains, setting your thermostat to 67 degrees or cooler and use a fan, white noise machine or ear plugs.
5) Keep moving
Simply the more you move throughout the day, the more energy your body requires and the higher your metabolic rate (this is referred to as non-exercise activity thermogenesis).
In this day and age we can pretty much take care of everything sitting at a computer or taking out our smart phone. While I understand that many jobs involve sitting at a desk for hours on end, there are a few things you can do to get a bit more movement in your day.
Try getting up every 20-30 minutes and take a quick walk or do 10 squats, lunges, etc., go for a walk on your breaks, walk and talk (if you are on a phone call make it a walking phone call) and fidget (studies show that those who fidget burn more calorie throughout the day…just don’t aggravate your boss/co-workers!).
Also, if you simply have the chance to work standing vs sitting, DO IT!
**Bonus Tips: If you can tolerate caffeince and/or spicy food, try consuming a few cups (1-4) of coffee or green tea daily and use hot sauce and added spices (chili powder, red pepper flakes, etc.) to flavor dishes…both have been shown to help boost metabolic rate.
Employ these strategies, boost your metabolism and know that even when you are not “working hard,” your body is still getting after it for you.
If you have any other strategies share them in the comments below and help spread the knowledge by sharing this article with your friends and family.