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Souping up the metabolism


Metabolism is derived from the Greek word metabol(é) which means to change(meta + bolé = throw). In biology/ physiology, metabolism is the sum up of the physical and chemical process in an organism by which it’s material substance is produced, maintained and destroyed by which energy is made available. To many of us, in layman terms, when we hear the word metabolism, we immediately think of the rate of a person’s energy or food conversion. In this blog, I’m not going to share voodoo tips that will magically strip your body fat away despite of your bad eating habits but I will list down some pennies that would help us make a dollar. My grandmother used to tell me when I was a kid that I should treasure every bit of the penny because those combined pennies can help me make a dollar. In the context of weight management, this translates to valuing every bit of strategies no matter how big or small but it’s importance should not be neglected.

Lately, my family and I are enjoying going to the food truck row festival that’s being held every Wednesdays and Fridays in our area in SoCal.




Food truck row is a festival wherein several food trucks are gathering in one place on a particular day to sell diverse foods on the streets. You can smell the aroma of attention-catching foods while watching people eating tantalizing foods so you cannot help yourself but to join the herd 🙂 Since, these food trucks are not listing the calorie content of their menus, I outlined the strategy I use here to stay lean combined with my regular calorie counting and regular exercise.

People have varying rates of metabolic rate and it’s normally dictated by genetics so obviously, there’s nothing we can do about it but, there are some variables that are in our control that we can use to soup up our metabolism. I will enumerate these techniques one by one.

1.) Taking advantage of TEF or thermic effect of foods:

Another reason why you should eat adequate protein on a diet especially on a weight/ fat loss diet is because protein is considered as the most satiating macronutrient among the three(protein, fats and carbohydrates). Aside from it’s high satiating property, protein is also the macronutrient that creates the highest TEF among those three which means that if we eat let’s say 100 calories worth of protein, 20-30% of those calories will be lost simply just by processing the protein in the body. Stick to the leanest cuts of meat to slash down tag along fats that normally comes with meat.

2.) Have a regular/ habitual meal frequency. While, meal frequency doesn’t really matter which I discussed here but haphazard meal frequency or no regular eating pattern is what we really have to worry about because haphazard eating frequency can lower postprandial energy expenditure.

3.) Drink tea or coffee or both

Aside from the ergogenic benefits of caffeine, drinking caffeinated beverages can enhance lipolysis especially on lean individuals but less on obese. Personally, I’m a regular coffee drinker myself that’s why I drink about 2-3 cups of black coffee everyday. According to a study conducted by Jessen A. et al, consumption of caffeinated beverages can also suppress appetite especially with the combination of nicotine. Some people were also using ephedra(or ephedrine) combined with caffeine to increase weight/ body fat loss even further.

4.) Get adequate sleep and regular sleeping pattern as much as possible

The amount of total calories we burn while we are sleeping may not be much but it’s impact in our hormonal environment is huge. Adequate sleep is not only important on regulating metabolism but also on immune function. During deep sleep, sympathetic nervous system activity is generally decreased and parasympathetic nervous system activity is increased. Sleep loss is associated with an elevation of sympathovagal balance, with higher sympathetic but lower parasympathetic tone. Most endocrine organs are sensitive to changes in sympathovagal balance. Well-documented examples are pancreatic insulin secretion and release by the fat cells of leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone. Leptin is protein hormone that plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure, including appetite and metabolism. Sleep loss can also impair optimal thyroid function. Most of us know that our thyroid gland plays a huge role on regulating our metabolism.
Elevations of evening cortisol levels in chronic sleep loss are likely to promote the development of insulin resistance, a risk factor for obesity and diabetes. In short, sleep is very important in our health and on maintaining an optimal metabolism. As a rotational shift-worker, this has been my biggest issue that’s why I’m doing my best to get as much sleep as possible whenever I can.

5.) Eat spicy foods

Personally, I like adding some crushed red chili peppers on my pizza, some Tabasco hot sauce or Sriracha sauce on my meat dish. Aside from increasing TEF, eating spicy foods such as red peppers can also suppress appetite. However, long-term spicy foods intake may make individuals become desensitized to the effects of red peppers.

6.) Manage stress

Stress is not bad at all although chronic exposure to it is like I discussed here. Physiologically speaking, stress can suppress food metabolism in order to mobilize stored energy. Behaviorally speaking, stress can make some people increase or decrease appetite. Have a positive outlook in life and maintain a good attitude.

7.) Gain weight

If your goal is all about weight loss, decreasing our total body weight can in fact hurt our metabolic rate simply because metabolism works like an engine. A bigger engine requires more fuel therefore burns more fuel. Gaining weight is not the same as gaining/ getting fat albeit, it may come along the process as we increase our muscle mass. Do not fear muscles(especially women), because lean muscle mass burns more calories at rest than adipose tissues(fat cells). The difference isn’t that much but the effects can also be beneficial on the metabolic rate in the long run.

These tips that I enumerated above must be combined with a reduced-calorie diet along with a regular exercise to maximize it’s benefits. Please do not rely on such tactics alone to create a calorie deficit. Use them wisely.