By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
A fast metabolism — how quickly your body burns through calories — seems the Holy Grail for weight maintenance. Instead of carefully watching every spoonful, some people seem to eat what they want and not gain an ounce. But Cameron Apt, senior athletic performance specialist with UR Medicine Sports Medicine said, “there isn’t really one way to ‘hack your metabolism’” despite what social media and advertisements claim.
But you can make a few changes that can improve your metabolism. Try these expert tips from Apt and other local experts:
Tips from Cameron Apt, senior athletic performance specialist with UR Medicine Sports Medicine:
• “Work out in the morning. It wakes you up more and you will burn more thorough the day. If you’re a distance runner, work on sprints and interval training. Change up what you’re doing. You burn the most calories learning a new thing.
• “Weight training is huge. More studies reinforce that, showing strength training leads to higher amounts of weight loss than just cardio.”
Tips from Shelly Marsh, director of Fitness & Wellness, exercise physiologist, Rochester Regional Health:
• “You have to eat to lose weight, not starve yourself.
• “It’s true metabolism slows as we get older. For some, it may never have been fast. To fire up your metabolism it needs to start with the right mix of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Eat five to six times a day, every two and half to three hours (breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner and an evening snack if you choose). Eating is the key. By not eating, your body goes into conserve mode. Eat too much and your body is overloaded, which will bring down your energy level. By eating in frequent intervals you avoid those peaks and valleys in your sugar levels.
• “Not everyone reacts the same way to foods so I encourage everyone to keep a food journal to track their progress. The goal is to find what foods work for you in the right amount, the right combination, and at the right time of day to fire up your metabolism.
• “Avoid foods filled with salt, sugar and chemicals that will slow your metabolism — foods with a shelf life. If you’re disciplined and committed to making better eating choices coupled with regular exercise you’ve earned that cookie. Enjoy. The key is finding a balance, enhancing your quality of life and being able to have more life experiences.”
Tips from physician Leila Kirdani, board-certified in both metabolic medicine and family practice and owner of Quality of Life Medicine in Rochester:
• “The biggest thing with this is exercise. It’s a sad, hard truth for people who don’t like to exercise. When you build muscle, you build mitochondria. Walking is wonderful, but if you’re really trying to speed up your metabolism, it requires a more aerobic exercise and weight training.
• “High intensity interval training has been shown to increase metabolism more quickly than conventional exercise. It’s not as good at reducing obesity and helping cholesterol levels, but if the goal is to increase metabolism, it’s fabulous.
• “Things that help mitochondrian health include supplementing with alpha lipoic acid. This is an enzyme helper where the body makes molecules of energy. It can help increase the metabolism, keep cholesterol panels good and is a powerful antioxidant.
• “Supplement with D-ribose, a sugar that doesn’t raise your blood sugar but makes up part of the molecule of energy. If you take it before a workout, your body will able to burn more energy.”