Micah Reum has a bachelor's degree in exercise science. He is a certified personal trainer and is passionate about health and fitness.
Want to speed up your metabolism? Burn more calories throughout the day? Start losing weight? Simply have a healthier life? The solutions to these questions may be easier than you think. Nutrition should be the first thing you look at when answering any of the above questions. It is the most important factor in fitness. Ironically, this comes as a shock to some people. As a personal trainer, I've had countless experiences of people saying to me, "I want to work out so that I can eat whatever I want." This approach comes from a skewed idea that, by exercising enough, a person can not only be physically fit with unhealthy nutrition, but can actually be healthy without it.
Nutrition is the foundation to both a healthy life and long term fitness. It takes a long time to reach your goals. Personally speaking, I could probably get away with saying, "I work out so that I don't have to eat healthy," because I had the benefit of growing up with a mother who fed me very healthy nutrition from birth until I moved out of the house at eighteen, creating a very healthy foundation to my life. That, complimented with my current workout routines, means that if I cheat on my nutrition here and there, it's not that big of a deal for my physical appearance. I could actually cheat on it quite often, honestly, and I would still be fine in terms of my physical appearance. However, that does not mean that I would not be hurting my overall health and future fitness in the process.
The choices we make now impacts our future health as well. So, If you are someone that has been eating poorly for the last number of years, put on a few pounds, and now you want to lose the extra weight, you're going to have to make some nutritional changes and stick to them for a while in order to get the results you want. It will be a long time before you can ever even think about saying, "I work out so that I can eat whatever I want." However, why would you want to eat unhealthy and purposely hurt your body, anyways? Even though that approach won't greatly impact my appearance now, I do not follow it. That's because I am not looking to simply have a good outward appearance through the prime years of my life. I am striving to achieve health through the long haul. I encourage you to do the same. Start the process now, and your body will thank you in the future.
With that being said, what should you do to speed up your metabolism, start losing weight, and simply be healthier for the remainder of our lives? Well, there are three things that you may or may not already be doing, that'd I like to share with you today. Eat big and hearty breakfasts, eat five to six times a day, and give yourself a cheat day.
Why is it so important to eat breakfast? Everyone always says it's the most important meal of the day, but you may not have heard the reason why. Breakfast is the foundation to your metabolism speed and natural calorie burning that your body completes throughout the day. The easiest way I can put it is this: The sooner you wake up your metabolism in the day, the sooner you will start burning calories. It's that easy. If you wait until lunch or later to eat your first meal, your metabolism won't wake up until lunch or later.
Our bodies are very smart. They are able to adapt to different life choices that we consistently make. Why do trainers recommend switching up workouts to get results? Because our bodies adapt to the same trainings, and we need to change them in order to shock our bodies. This adapting concept is the exact same with nutrition. Your body will adapt to the nutrition choices that you consistently make.
If you never eat breakfast, or simply have a pop tart or cereal bar every morning, your body will adapt by slowing down its metabolism in order to make it until your first real meal at lunch or later. In other words, your body will go into starvation mode for the first half of the day, after your whole night sleep in which you also didn't eat anything. With that in mind, whatever you eat for lunch and dinner, your body holds onto for dear life! It doesn't want to starve, and it knows that it won't eat until noon or later the next day, so it's not going to let that dinner get away. Hence, your body will store up as much as it can. That's also the reason why some people find that they gain weight even though they are eating only once or twice a day. Their bodies are simply holding onto everything they eat.
So, start your day off with a hearty meal full of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to fuel your body early. Don't just have a bowl of cereal. Have some eggs, oatmeal, toast, the works! At first, this will be very hard, as your body won't be used to it. You're going to have to reteach your metabolism how to wake up in the morning and that it's ok for it not to hold onto everything that you ate the day before. I promise, after you do this consistently for a few weeks, your body will start to adapt to this healthy new change, and your metabolism will begin to speed up as a result.
Eat Five or Six Times a Day
Eat five or six times a day? I know that sounds counterproductive to losing weight at first glance, right? Allow me to explain why this is a smart thing to do if you want to lose weight. When I say eat five or six times a day, that does not mean five or six giant meals every day. Instead, it could consist of the three main meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and one or two snacks in between each meal. The snacks don't have to be very big. They can simply be an apple with peanut butter, carrots with humus, yogurt and granola, or a banana and almonds. All you need is something light to feed your body in between meals. Or, you could simply throw out lunch or dinner altogether, and instead, have four or five very light meals each day. That is, of course, after that very important hearty breakfast you ate. The light meals could simply be a light sandwich, a salad with some meat or fish, or a chicken soup.
The reason for the multiple meals recommendation is simple. It speeds up your metabolism! Just like the reason for eating hearty breakfasts, your metabolism speeds up the more often you feed it. Feeding your body five to six times a day prevents your body from going into that forbidden starvation mode. Your metabolism will constantly be at work. Also, your meals don't have to be as big to reach your daily caloric intake. This helps your digestion process. Spreading your calories out throughout the day allows you to have a healthy digestion, since there is less to digest at one time. Lastly, feeding your body throughout the day will also give you more energy. This is because your body will always have some sort of food to feed on. It's a win-win situation for you!
Have a Cheat Day
In my experience, both as a personal trainer trying to encourage clients with their nutrition, and simply as a friend trying to help others break poor eating habits, I have found that it is almost impossible to simply go "Cold Turkey" when trying to form new habits. This is true of almost any habit in life. If you truly want to make a big change in something, easing yourself into this change will produce better long term success. Many people will find if they try to drastically change something in their life, they will relapse into their previous way of living after only a short amount of time. Examples could be going from never exercising to exercising five times a week, completely eliminating junk food from your life when that's the majority of food you usually eat, waking up every morning at six when your body is accustomed to waking up at ten, going from never reading to reading an hour every night. These kind of changes take time to adapt to. This is why there are so many people in the gym in January, but about half the number in February. It is important to take steps towards your goals in order to achieve long term success.
So, my advice when attempting to clean up your nutrition is to give yourself a cheat day. This day acts both as a reward for your success throughout the week and as a way to reset your body in order to keep from relapsing when it gets to hard to resist your favorite foods. This way, when things get hard during the week, and you just want to have that piece of cake for dessert or that pizza for dinner, you should be able to resist a little longer until your cheat day comes along. You know that on that day, you can happily indulge in the deliciousness of your favorite foods that you denied yourself of the other six days of the week.
I've found that this works really well for many people. However, even though the cheat day is a beautiful thing, it still takes time for your body to become familiar with. There will be many cravings and temptations at first. It's important to practice discipline, but also to set reachable goals. If it is truly too hard to go six days a week with strict nutrition, than try to go five days at first. You can work your way up to a place where it becomes easier to resist temptations. As is the case with your metabolism adapting to eating hearty breakfasts, your body will also adapt to a stricter diet. This means the cravings will become less and less the longer you go. Eventually, you may find it becomes so easy that it'll be possible to turn your cheat day into a cheat meal!
If you are looking for some ways to improve your nutrition and start working towards a healthier life, try these three simple nutrition tips. I hope that you find them easy to implement into your life and that you see positive results because of them.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2017 Micah Reum