ARTICLE AT A GLANCE
Metabolism; noun “The chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life.”
The term metabolism is loosely thrown around as an explanation for weight gain or weight loss but maintaining total body wellness is its main objective.
Your metabolism relies on a series of cellular reactions that are influenced by neurotransmitters and hormones.
We can manipulate these cellular reactions in our favor with key nutrition and lifestyle changes.
A “slow metabolism” is often blamed for making weight loss difficult or struggling to maintain a healthy weight.
“Kara can eat whatever she wants, I wish I had her fast metabolism.” Sound familiar?
It’s certainly true that metabolic rate varies by individual. Body size, age, physical activity, diet, sleep and stress all contribute here. No matter what though, we can take action and make some very significant improvements — regardless of age or current fitness levels.
This article isn’t about magic pills or 7 day detoxes. We’re going to focus on action items that will improve multiple aspects of your health. Some of these tips may be new to you and as the title suggests – you will probably consider them unconventional.
1. Take 30 minute walks in the morning, with skin exposed.
Exposure to the sun in the morning resets your circadian rhythm. This rhythm is responsible for a natural rise in cortisol, dopamine and norepinephrine in the AM improving energy and drive. Studies also show that people who took in early morning sunlight produced less cortisol and more melatonin at night leading to better quality sleep.
This natural hormonal curve helps manage insulin and regulate blood sugar which is key for a healthy metabolism. To take full advantage, leave the sunglasses off and expose as much skin as you’re comfortable.
*If you’re worried about skin damage, the ideal time for this is between 7am-10am since UV will likely be lower.
2. Drink mushroom coffee.
Functional mushrooms have actually been used for thousands of years to support overall wellness. Various types of mushrooms have been studied extensively for their role in immune support, cognitive function, metabolism and sleep.
Recently, mushrooms have found their way into coffee mixes essentially supercharging what was already considered a healthy staple. Mushrooms may also improve the benefits of coffee by addressing two known pitfalls: indigestion and sleep problems.
Prebiotics in mushrooms help the gut produce good bacteria that aids digestion and helps absorb much needed micronutrients from the foods we eat.
Mushroom coffees have less than 50% of the caffeine when compared to traditional coffee. You’ll most likely experience a more natural energy and an easier time winding down in the evening.
3. Eat meat and nuts for breakfast.
One of the greatest Strength & Conditioning Coaches of all time was the late Charles Poliquin.
Charles trained dozens of Olympic medalists and was the definition of a generalist. Besides Exercise Physiology, Charles was incredibly successful at helping people transform their health and body composition through nutrition. He was known for taking a pretty unique approach to breakfast and was a huge advocate of eating meat and nuts for your first meal.
His reasoning was that the amino acids (especially in red meat) and the monounsaturated fats from the nuts raised dopamine and acetylcholine — neurotransmitters known for cognitive function and drive.
This combo is also very low in carbohydrates which prevents mid-morning blood sugar spikes that can throw off hormonal balance.
4. Take cold showers.
Cold exposure isn’t exactly new, as it’s been a popular medicinal treatment for a number of conditions throughout Scandinavia for centuries. It’s popularity in the Western World has grown in the last few years and so has the research.
This research has shown that cold showers (and exposure to cold in general), in addition to increasing metabolic rate directly, stimulates the generation of brown fat. Brown fat is a specific type of fat tissue that in turn creates energy by burning calories.
Cold exposure can also raise norepinephrine which raises alertness and reaction times.
5. Embrace a daily 6-6-5.
What is 6-6-5?
- Inhale deeply through your nose for 6 seconds.
- Exhale though your nose fully for 6 seconds.
- Repeat this for 5 minutes.
James Nestor recently wrote a fascinating book called BREATH – The New Science and Lost Art of … you guessed it, breathing. The book explores multiple cultures and studies that focus on the power of daily deep breathing practices.
Every healthy cell in the body is fueled by oxygen.The efficient transport of O2 and offloading of CO2 though proper breathing has enormous benefits to the metabolism, inflammatory markers, athletic performance and sense of well-being.
Try pairing this breathing technique with Tips 1 and 4 to supercharge your morning.
Jason Barbour is the CEO of Metabolic Meals and a builder of e-business brands that help people live healthier lives. For over a decade, Jason worked closely with top athletes and executives to improve their performance through nutrition, fitness and lifestyle modifications. He now focuses on using technology to give people a more personalized path to achieving their wellness goals.