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By Dr. Mercola
Do you feel like your metabolism is stuck in first gear? Is your body refusing to let go of that stubborn extra body fat, in spite of making good dietary choices and exercising? Fear not—there are a few simple tricks you can try that are backed by solid nutrition science.Your lifestyle can be “tweaked” in a variety of ways, from what you eat to when you eat, how and when you exercise, and other daily habits such as sleephygiene and stress management. ALL of these play a role in your metabolism
People today move much less and consume more inflammatory foods than they did hundreds and thousands of years ago, and this takes a toll on your metabolism.
A recent article in Time1 makes some excellent metabolism-boosting suggestions, and we will take a look at several of these in detail. But first, let’s examine one of the most common causes of metabolic sluggishness: chronic inflammation.If Your Metabolic Engine Has Stalled, It Could Be Inflammation
If your metabolism is stalled
—or stuck in reverse—it would be helpful to look at what might be keeping your body in a state of low-level inflammation. It’s well established that weight gain is often a sign of chronic low-level inflammation, and frequently this is related to the foods you are eating.
Food sensitivities can lead you down the road toward insulin and leptin resistance and can seriously hamper your metabolism.2 When you have a food sensitivity or allergy, your body feels “attacked” by a food rather than nourished by it.
Inflammatory molecules are then produced and circulated to protect you from your body’s perceived threat, causing you to decrease insulin and leptin sensitivity. Your body is under stress so it uses its resources differently. This is typically accompanied by a gut dysbiosis, an imbalance in the microorganisms in your digestive tract.
In addition to food allergies and sensitivities, inflammation can be caused by a number of different factors, including poor sleep, environmental toxins, stress, and other factors. Even overexercising may stall your metabolism by triggering inflammation, pain, water retention, etc.
The foods most likely to be pro-inflammatory are junk foods and highly processed foods, grains, foods high in sugar (especially fructose), and GMOs. For help with dietary strategies, please refer to my Optimized Nutrition Plan. However, many people have food sensitivities to what would normally be consideredhealthy foods, such as gluten, nuts, and dairy products.
It’s important to not rule out the possibility that you may be having an unhealthy reaction to a “healthy” food. These food sensitivities can be very subtle, so they can sometimes be challenging to identify, requiring some trial and error.
Whey Protein Fuels Muscle Growth and Repair
The featured article suggests that whey protein may be effective for kicking up your metabolism, and I couldn’t agree more. According to Paul Arciero, a professor in the Health and Exercise Sciences department at Skidmore College:
“Whey protein increases calorie burn and fat utilization, helps the body maintain muscle, and triggers the brain to feel full.”
Protein in general has a tendency to rev up your metabolic engine due to its thermogenic effects—meaning, it makes your body produce more heat and in turn, burn more calories—but whey is particularly effective for this.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that fat oxidation and thermogenic effects are greater with whey than with soy or casein.3
Consuming a high-quality, rapidly absorbed, and easily assimilated whey protein concentrate, not isolate within about 30 minutes of resistance training may maximally stimulate muscle building in young healthy individuals, but this is equally important, if not more so, for the elderly.
People tend to lose muscle mass as they age. The leaner you are, the better your metabolism will be, regardless of your age. There is only about a two-hour window after exercise for optimal muscle repair and growth, and supplying your muscles with the right food at this time is essential—and whey is among the best.