There are many factors that play a role in ramping up your bodies’ metabolism and improving your energy levels throughout the day so that you can get the most out of every day. There are also many things that you could (or could not) be doing that are limiting your exercise performance, physique, or hindering your energy levels. Below are some tips I recommend to most of my patients and clients that have really helped them improve their energy, manage their weight, and improve their overall quality of life. Enjoy!
1. Drink enough water
This is one factor that is amazingly overlooked by everyone from athletes to the casual exerciser and the sedentary individual. Your body is made up of approximately 55-75% water, which comprises intracellular fluid (fluid inside your muscles, brain, metabolic cells, and other organs) as well as extracellular fluid (including blood plasma, interstitial fluid, and transcellular fluid). Intracellular fluid (also known as cytosol or cytoplasm) is fluid inside each cell that contains electrolytes, as well as enzyme and protein complexes that help carry out metabolic pathways and signalling within a cell. Extracellular fluid located outside of cells regulates the movement of water and electrolytes in the body, helps maintain osmotic balance, and acts to deliver nutrients as well as clear metabolic waste from the cells in your body.
In other words, a lot of very important organs and body processes rely on you having adequate water intake. Everything in your body including proper brain and muscle function, joint lubrication, blood pressure, energy levels, thermoregulation (your bodies temperature regulation), weight management, as well as appetite are all negatively affected by low water intake (dehydration). So, how much water do you think you need everyday? The most current recommendations for daily water intake are 2.5 Litres (10 cups) of water per day for women, and 3.5 Litres (14 cups) of water per day for men. But wait, there’s more…If you’re a coffee/caffeine drinker you should add 1 more cup of water for each cup of a caffeinated beverage you have because high caffeine intake can cause your body to lose water although it is not a true diuretic. If you are exercising or it is hot outside and you are sweating you also need to replace water lost through perspiration with 1 cup of water for each cup of sweat produced. So we are talking at least 2.5 to 3.5 Litres of water intake per day not taking into account any of these other factors.
I can’t stress how important adequate water intake is for your health; if you are not adequately hydrated it affects hormone levels, electrolyte levels (and therefore transmission of nerve impulse and cellular signalling), energy levels, and your blood plasma volume. When you are not hydrated your blood is thicker and doesn’t flow around the body as efficiently, this means that your heart and circulatory system have to work harder to pump blood around your body and the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to your working muscle and brain is compromised. This will also reduce the clearance of metabolic waste and toxins from your body. Enough reasons to get you drinking more water? I hope so.
Here are some tips for increasing water intake throughout the day if this is one area where you struggle:
– Buy a water bottle and bring it to work and to the gym, this will make sure water is always handy and it will act as a reminder for you to drink more water
– Cut up your favourite fruits (orange, lemon, lime, grapes, watermelon, berries, whatever) and let them soak in a pitcher of water overnight in your fridge. This will add flavour to your water if flavour is an issue
– Add a calorie-free water flavour powder/ liquid if taste is an issue. If you are going to comment on the harmful effects of artificial sweeteners in these I can guarantee you that not getting enough water on a daily basis is MUCH MORE detrimental to your health than having a little bit of sweetener, so if that’s what you have to resort to, do so
– Drink 1 glass of water as soon as you get up and one right before you go to bed, this will not only get you 2 cups closer to staying adequately hydrated but it will also help flush your body out, kick start your metabolism, and lubricate your digestive system
2. Have a source of protein with every meal and snack
Did you know that protein is the only macronutrient that your body cannot synthesize itself and is therefore absolutely essential to get in your diet? We all know your body can unfortunately synthesize fat in the event of too high calorie intake. Your body can also synthesize carbohydrates through a process called gluconeogenesis where fat and even protein (i.e. your muscles that you have worked so hard to tone and build) are turned into sugar to provide your body with energy if you are in a hypoglycaemic state (low blood sugar characterized by low energy, weakness, shaking, and even fainting). If you have heard the term “essential amino acids” these are amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) that your body cannot synthesize and therefore must be obtained through the diet.
In addition to protein being essential for rebuilding your body tissue and maintaining muscle mass, it also increases the amount of calories your body burns during its digestion through a process called the “thermic effect of food”. When you eat, your body actually increases its metabolism so your food can be broken down, digested, and absorbed, this actually causes you to burn more calories. Protein requires much more effort and caloric expenditure by your body compared to fat and carbohydrates in order to break down from its quaternary structure (complete folded protein) into amino acids and peptides that are absorbed by your body. This is why you may experience an increase in body temperature after eating a high protein meal, because your metabolism is kicking up to break down the protein from your meal.
Having a source of protein with every meal also helps to regulate postprandial blood sugar levels; in other words, protein helps regulate your blood sugar after a meal so it will stay within a healthier level where your body is not storing fat due to a spike in insulin levels. A side note to this: if you have ever felt tired after eating a large meal this is due to a large spike in your insulin levels, if this happens often, increase protein intake with your meal and decrease carbohydrate portion size, you will find you won’t be as tired after your meals. Finally, since protein does take longer to break down than fat and carbohydrates it will regulate your appetite throughout the day more effectively so you won’t feel as hungry and won’t be tempted to snack on things that you shouldn’t.
So to summarize point 2:
Protein with each meal = keep more of your muscle + burn more calories while digesting your food + better regulate your blood sugar levels + better manage your appetite (decrease cravings for junk food) + store less fat
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 and find out how Exercise and Sex will increase your metabolism!
That is for part one of my article series “Kick-start your metabolism, increase energy levels, and generally be more awesome”, stay tuned for part two and be sure to check out my other articles on Anti-AgeMe.com or www.DYNAMISonline.ca
Evan Ward BScHK, CSEP-CPT