You may have heard people blaming weight gain on a slow metabolism.
But what does that actually mean and is it even possible to reverse it?
It’s a bit of a complex process, but in short metabolism the amount of energy or calories our bodies burn to maintain vital function.
The faster our metabolism, the more efficiently we burn calories and lose weight, while the slower our metabolism, the fewer calories we burn and in turn store as fat.
So, in order to boost your metabolism and lose weight the answer is simple – burn more calories.
There is of course the most obvious option, which is to increase the amount of exercise you do.
Exercising for weight loss is hardly a huge industry secret, but what you may not know is that by building muscle your body actually needs more calories to survive. So not only have you lost weight, but you can now eat more as well – winner.
That’s because your basal metabolic rate (BMR) – or the number of calories your body needs to survive each day – increases.
Nutritionist and dietitian Helen Bond said: “For the ultimate fat burning boost you have to look at aerobic exercises and strengthening exercises. They will increase the calories you burn during the exercise and afterwards as well.”
“You really need to do strength training along with that – lifting weights and using your own body weight to build muscle. The more muscle you have the fast your metabolism is going to be, you are going to burn more calories, even at rest.”
And even if you take a few week off exercise when on holiday, you will still be burning more calories thanks to your BMR being boosted.
While there are lots of hype about superfoods, nutritionist Helen said that unfortunately there is no wonder food that will boost your metabolism.
She said the most important thing is to eat a healthy, balanced diet and not to be too restrictive on calories.
Helen added: “There is a lot of things out there that say different things work in terms of boosting your metabolism.
“Lab studies have shown results with regards to chillies, green tea, grapefruit, ginger, coffee and pepper in boosting metabolism. But in the real world eating these foods is unlikely to result in a weight loss,” she explains.
“Don’t restrict your calories too much, you need to make sure you are eating enough to cover your BMR – what your body needs just at rest. Eat a balanced diet too because often when you are deficient in nutrients that’s when you don’t have enough energy to exercise.”
Generally speaking, the NHS recommends a woman eats no more than 2,000 calories a day and a man should eat no more than 2,500.
But those are based on averages and the real amount you should be eating should actually be based on a number of factors including age and exercise levels.
There’s nothing like a spicy meal to get your body sweating.
So, adding cayenne pepper to your food is said to be another way of speeding up your metabolism and help you burn calories.
Researchers believe that capsaicin, the main active ingredient in cayenne pepper, is a thermogenic chemical – which means it stimulates your metabolism by heating up your body.
In 2011, a study found that people who don’t like spicy food had better weight loss results after consuming cayenne capsules.
While a study in 2014 found people who consumed capsaicin felt increased feelings of fullness and had fewer cravings.
It’s also said to act as an anti-flammatory and has positive vascular effects, which could reduce the risk of stroke and high blood pressure, according to Healthline.
Cayenne pepper can be added to curries, stews, chilli – or if you’re feeling brave it can be mixed with a glass of water.
And what about apple cider vinegar?
It’s been used as a health aid for years, but while you might think a quick swig of apple cider vinegar in the morning helps your metabolism, that’s not quite right.
The tonic does however help boost weight loss by helping you feel fuller for longer and regulating blood sugar levels, experts say.
It’s been proven to reduce the speed in which glucose, or sugar, enters the blood and therefore lowers blood sugar levels.
Other research has shown that it can also act as an appetite suppressant and assist your stomach in digestion to breakdown food for energy.
Apple cider vinegar can be used with olive oil as a salad dressing, for pickling vegetables or mixed with water as a drink.
Dietitian Sarah Flowers told The Sun: “You can’t just take apple cider vinegar and eat what you like, hoping it will act as a magic pill for weight loss. “Studies have shown it can help reduce food cravings and help keep you fuller for longer, meaning you are less likely to snack or overeat.”
This article originally appeared on The Sun and is republished here with permission.