Have you ever wondered how somebody can eat junk food all day every day and not gain a pound? Or how you can eat healthy a majority of the time but still cannot lose weight or fat? Yeah…me too. I remember being in college and watching my roommate eat Kit-Kats and Oreos and not gain a pound, but when I would eat that I would put on a least a few pounds. The reason behind this is pretty complex and there is a lot of science behind it, but simply put it comes down to ones metabolic rate. Some people just burn more calories than other people. Whether it’s from activity levels, height, weight, or just genetics. Knowing your base metabolic rate is key when it comes to trying to improve your fitness (lose weight, put on muscle, etc).
What is your base metabolic rate (MBR)? The easy answer is to that is, your base metabolic rate is how many calories your body burns just by keeping you alive. This is the amount of calories your body needs to survive. For example, if I was to do absolutely nothing all day, my body would burn roughly 1,750 calories throughout the day. You can calculate a rough estimate of your MBR here.
Why is your base metabolic rate (MBR) important to know? Knowing your MBR is going to be key along your fitness journey. For the sake of this post, we are going to look at MBR as a tool to help you lose weight. Knowing your MBR to lose weight is key because losing weight comes down to how many calories you burn versus how many calories you consume.
Using your MBR to lose weight: Losing weight is all science and technical terms, and if we are being honesty, you probably don’t have the time or care enough to read about. So to simplify it, losing weight comes down to Calories Burned – Calories Consumed. If you can get that to equal -3500 you will lose 1 pound.
Example: If I want to lose 1 lb per week. I’ll need a -500 calorie deficit each day to equal -3500 for the week. My BMR is 1750. When I plan out my meals for the week, I factor in my MBR to how many calories I can consume. Here is a typical day for me when I am trying to shed weight:
-1750 (MBR) -750 (Daily workout, walking, general movement throughout the day) + 1750 (food consumed throughout the day) = -750 calories/day
What I’m trying to do here is consume the same amount of calories as my MBR. This way I know any extra movement and workout that I complete will be put me in the negative of calories for the day, which will lead to weight loss.
Boosting Your Metabolism
Now that you’ve calculated out our MBR and can see how planning out your caloric intake can help you reach your fitness goals. Now lets see about boosting that Metabolism to burn extra calories and help you reach your goals faster.
Metabolic Boosting Foods: Here are my top 5 foods/drinks that I’ve added in my diet to help give my metabolism a little extra kick! For a more in-depth list of foods/drinks, go here.
- Coffee: I’ve always been a coffee addict, so this one is easy for me. If you do not like coffee, go with green tea. The caffeine from coffee and tea helps give you that mental boost throughout the day but also give your metabolism a nice perk up. About one cup of coffee can boost your metabolism by 50-75 calories. Be careful not to over do it though, as caffeine can be strong and everyone’s body reacts differently to it. I try to keep my coffee intake to 2 cups a day.
- Cinnamon: This is great way to boost your metabolism because it can be added to so many different types of foods and drinks. Cinnamon has thermogenic properties, which just means when it’s digested it helps create heat to burn carbohydrates to give you energy. I add cinnamon into my oatmeal in the morning. You can also add it to your coffee. Another reason I love cinnamon is because it help cut my sweet tooth craving. The taste of cinnamon tells my mind that I am eating something sweet and means that I do not need to eat any dessert.
- Hot Pepper/Jalapenos: Hot means heat! Any type of hot peppers will boost your metabolism. Hot peppers contain capsinoids that will help boost your metabolism. My favorite is adding in jalapenos into my salads or stir-fry chicken.
- Fish: You’ve probably heard how fish can be great for heart and mental health. This is absolutely true. But what’s also great about the Omega-3s found in fish? They help lower your stress hormones. Stress hormones can trigger your body into storing fat and lead to higher blood pressure. Omega-3s counteract this affect and help your body burn fat. I try to eat fish at least twice a week. My go two is smoked or grilled salmon.
- WATER! This is the MOST important of the metabolic boosting hacks. Drink more water. It’s that simple. Almost every single person can drink more water. Studies have shown that even the slightest amount of dehydration can slow your metabolism. This is because your body starts holding water and calories when you are dehydrated because it doesn’t know when water will be coming next. So your body stores water and fat to make sure it will have surpluses if it needs it. My recommendation is start out by drinking half of your body weight in ounces everyday. If you weight 160 lbs, drink 80 ounces of water. If you are exercising, drink more than that. I drink at least 1 gallon or 128 ounces on days I exercise.
Negative-Calorie Foods: Okay, so there is no such thing as a negative calorie. But these foods listed below are just some of the examples of foods that are high in fiber and actually require your body to burn more calories to digest them than what your body takes in from eating them. Hence the name “Negative Calorie”. These are your best friend when it comes to losing weight. You can eat as much of them as you want and because they are all high in fiber, they will also help keep you full longer. Add these as raw sides to your dishes instead of starchy, greasy options and see the weight start to shed.
Now that you’ve got an understanding of how your Base Metabolic Rate works, how to plan out your meals according to your goals, and a few food hacks to boost your metabolism, I’d love to hear more from you all about some of your metabolism hacks. Feel free to leave a comment with tips or questions you may have for me!