Have some extra jiggle? Struggling with extra weight?
You’re not alone. Fat loss is one of my clients’ most common challenges. I’ve had issues with this too, which is another reason I am motivated to help men feel, look and perform their best.
When we were younger, we didn’t need to worry about what we ate or how often we exercised. We just had fun, played outside and did what we wanted; extra weight just wasn’t a problem.
However, things change as you get older. The body takes longer to recover, and the weight is hard to lose even when you eat clean and exercise regularly.
One of the reasons for this is due to metabolic slowdown – our metabolic slows down as we get older.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to ramp it back up, at ANY age!
You can boost your basal metabolic rate, which is how fast your body burns the calories you eat throughout the day just doing normal activities, like walking, eating, sleeping and working. The majority of the calories we burn each day aren’t from exercise. They’re burned from your body’s normal functioning and maintenance.
Exercising is certainly an important part of any healthy lifestyle and weight loss plan, but the more your body is burning at its base level, the easier it is to rid yourself of that stubborn body fat.
Here are some things you can do to accomplish this:
Stress is one of the most important things to manage to optimize health and fat loss. It’s also one of the most difficult to do!
Short bursts of stress are healthy and normal in life. However, chronic stressors which do not reduce throughout the day are detrimental to our health. Think work stress, lifestyle stress, staying up too late, too much blue light, poor diet, financial issues and constant rumination about what’s going on in the world or watching social media can wear us down and contribute to chronic stress.
Chronic elevations of the stress hormones, especially cortisol, can actually lead to fat accumulation especially the dangerous kind – visceral fat. Chronic elevations of cortisol can also reduce our body’s ability to handle infections, lower immunity, and increase cravings, especially for sugary and fatty foods, which can contribute to fat gain.
Stress reduction is an entire article in and of itself but important things to think about our quick solutions to implement on a daily basis. Lifestyle changes, delegation of tasks, taking moments throughout the day to deep breathe such as box breathing or 4-5-7 breathing can help. Even just sitting in a quiet room and taking 10 deep breasts as often as you can is helpful. Long walks, tai chi, sauna and massage treatments are also massively beneficial. If it’s really bad, then even counseling sessions improve your stress situation. Make sure you take time out of your day to calm down and relax, by doing such things as reading a book, journaling, walking, doing art etc.
This is one of the most powerful ways to ramp up your metabolism. Physical activity like intense cardio or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) increases your body’s energy needs in the short term. Your body burns calories faster and that exercise ramps up the metabolism into high gear, and it stays elevated for hours after.
When you add strength training, there’s an additional long-term effect as well. Weight training challenges your muscles and actually creates micro-tears in the muscle fibers. Your body then spends massive amounts of energy to repair them. When it repairs the muscles, your body both increases the size of the existing muscle fibers and also builds new fibers. Together, these increase the size of the muscles.
Bigger muscles have a greater energy maintenance need. Muscle costs the body a lot of energy to build and to maintain.
In addition to this, muscle is the most active endocrine organ in the body. Muscles consume and metabolize more glucose (sugar) than any other organ and can therefore improve your body’s ability to process the glucose you eat and use it to build muscle (and not to store it as fat).
Muscles also secrete chemical messengers called Myokines, that have far reaching effects on all parts of the body. These myokines can improve insulin sensitivity, bone strength, reduce appetite, improve digestion, enhance mood and much more!
So, the more muscle mass you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate, the more fat you burn and the healthier you will be!
It turns out that eating can actually give you a short-term boost in metabolism. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). This is the energy your body burns in order to digest the food that you eat.
Protein increases your metabolism at a much greater rate (15-30%) than either fat (0-3%) or carbohydrates (5-10%). So higher protein foods can help you maximize that boost in metabolism from eating.
Remember that you need to eat a balanced diet and stick to the macronutrient ratio that’s best for your body. Try to minimize saturated fats and eliminate trans fats and refined sugars.
Some studies have shown that drinking cold water can increase metabolism and assist with weight loss. Hydration in general facilitates optimal cellular function which will in turn allow your cells to burn fuel and fat at an optimal rate. Proper hydration also alleviated fatigue, enhances your training and helps your body to remove any toxins.
Cold water lowers your core body temperature. In response, your body fires up its metabolism to warm you back up. That warming increases the calories you burn.
As an added benefit, water appears to also help you lose weight and burn fat, especially when you drink water in place of sugary drinks. It also helps fill you up so that you don’t overeat or consume too many extra calories.
Over time, long term fasting can slow your metabolism.
However, intermittent fasting, restricting eating to only certain time periods of the day, can actually help to boost your metabolism. It does that by giving your digestive system a break and puts that energy into other functions like building muscle and repairing injured tissue.
Intermittent fasting has been found to have several benefits, including:
- Balancing hormone levels
- Improved cellular function
- Improved autophagy
- Encouraging fat lipolysis—the breakdown of fat
- Increased growth hormone levels, which helps grow and preserve muscle mass
- Lowering blood glucose
When we eat, our insulin levels are elevated. Short term elevations are acceptable but chronically elevated insulin levels facilitate fat storage rather than fat-burning. Fasting helps our insulin drop, allowing our body to tap into our fat stores for fuel.
There are lots of ways of doing intermittent fasting (IF). I have a guide that details all of these on my website, but some options include:
- Time restricted eating: Here, you only eat within a given window of time. For example, you might restrict your eating to only between 10 am and 6 pm. This is the 16/8 or 20/6 IF you read about often.
- Alternate Meal Consumption: Here, you would skip one meal a day. I normally recommend skipping breakfast as a great way to get started with intermittent fasting.
- 5/2 Fasting: Here you eat normally five days a week but on 2 nonconsecutive days you either fast for the full day or only consume 500-800 calories.
- 24/48 fast. Here, you fast for a full day or two. Depending on your goals, it is easy to just do this once a month.
Remember, intermittent fasting doesn’t mean you have to eat fewer calories (although most people do end up eating a little less). It just means that you restrict when you eat.
There are a number of systemic factors that have a significant influence on our health. One of the most underestimated is sleep.
First off, sleep is when our body builds back muscles after a workout. So, if you’re trying to put on lean muscle mass, you don’t want to limit sleep.
Sleep is also when the brain heals and recovers as well as performs memory consolidation so that you don’t forget all you learned that day! The body detoxes itself at night as well which is massively important for health and longevity.
Plenty of research has also connected sleep to weight loss. Many people think that as we sleep our body becomes less active, but our body is actually very active when we sleep. All that activity requires energy. There’s also research that connects insomnia with weight gain and obesity. One reason for this relationship is that sleep helps modulate neuroendocrine function- how well your hormonal system works. A less effective endocrine system, in turn, alters glucose metabolism, which is how your blood sugar is turned into energy.
Lack of sleep also seems to decrease insulin sensitivity, decrease leptin (which is involved in fat metabolism, satiety and appetite), and increase cortisol (the stress hormone), all of which increase hunger, fat gain and cravings.
The body is a very complex system. I understand this and deal with this every day as a physician. However, there are simple habits we can all do on a regular basis to optimize our health.
The tips above are a great starting point. I encourage you to utilize them not only for a faster metabolism and weight loss, but also for greater overall health.
We are all different and you may need some additional or different habits to work on.
Of course, everyone should exercise, eat well, manage stress and get enough sleep; but some people may need an additional program that’s tailored directly to their particular biology. Some may need hormone therapy, others may need peptide therapy, and yet others need a complete dietary and lifestyle overhaul.
So, focus on the recommendations in this article to help you boost your metabolism and lose weight. Yet if you’re still struggling, consider finding an approach tailored to your body.
I offer precise and individualized cellular medicine solutions specific for you based on your genetics, lifestyle and body chemistry. Cookie cutter/generic health advice just isn’t enough to help with your individual challenges.
Enjoy and Live Great!