Do you have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this time of year? Many of us look forwards to it; yet loathe the additional calories it is likely to bring.
Wouldn’t you rather start the New Year without having to start a diet or enjoy the festive foods without feeling guilty? Our wellbeing contributor – Gabriella Clarke of Mind Health Movement (Therapist & Health Coach) has written this article to help us stay in control of our weight this winter so that we can start the New Year on a healthier note in both body and mind. Don’t worry if you can’t manage everything, just try to find a balance that is right for you and your health needs.
Eat protein with every snack/meal
Protein has the highest thermal effect of all the macronutrients meaning that you burn more calories just digesting protein than you do when you eat carbohydrates and fats. The thermal effect of eating protein is approximately 30% compared with carbohydrates which are 20% and fats have a mere 3% thermal effect. By eating eggs, meat, fish, poultry, game or high protein diary sources such as low fat cheeses, yoghurts and protein shakes you can help boost the metabolism right at the start of eating! This is why high protein/low carbohydrate nutrition plans help people maintain healthy body fat levels in our modern day, less active, lifestyle. Protein with each meal also means better insulin management resulting in steadier blood glucose levels, which decreases risk of type 2 diabetes.
Frequent small meals
Every time we eat, our metabolism is raised, as chewing and digesting food requires energy. When we eat little and often our body gets used to regular fuel top-ups so becomes less likely to hold on to and store fat because it is getting a regular supply and not expecting a food shortage. Providing your body with 2-3 meals a day actually tells it there is a food shortage! Think of hunter-gatherer times when we would have been eating food as we found it. Studies have shown that those that ate the same amount of calories by eating meals and snacks frequently over the course of a day lost weight compared to those who ate their calories in 2-3 main meals. Both groups ate the SAME amount of calories!
Cinnamon along with other spices such as turmeric, paprika, cumin and nutmeg contain certain vitamins and minerals that create a better environment within the body to metabolise fats as use them as fuel. These vitamins and minerals also aid the liver and kidneys in the detoxification of man made chemicals and particles ingested from non-organic foods and fluids, excess salts, sugars and pollution. Creating the right environment inside your body not only makes you look healthy on the outside but also helps to strengthen your immunity to infection and disease, aids brain and memory capability, and increases feelings of wellbeing and motivation.
Foods that make you feel hotter are undoubtedly giving your metabolic rate a boost (this is another reason to embrace feeling hot and sweaty when you are exercising). Your body temperature increasing is a sign that your body is converting calories to fuel which will be dispersed from your body as heat and sweat. Eating hot spices and chilli is a good way of healthy weight management. Don’t worry if you can’t tolerate hot flavours though, just eating a hot meal or drinking a hot drink can help boost your metabolism.
Exercise boosts your metabolism as you not only give off more body heat but you require energy to do it! Aerobic and anaerobic exercise also keeps your metabolism elevated for hours after so you will be burning more calories long after you’ve finished. Anaerobic exercise such as weight training and power walking that challenges your aerobic system creates lactic acid. The body requires energy to remove this, - an another reason why exercise elevates your metabolism both during and after the exertion itself.
Green tea contains 2 ingredients that aid metabolic function: caffeine and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and increases the utilisation of fats for fuel. EGCG disrupts the conversion of dietary lipids into stored fat and also elevates the metabolism. Green tea is also a powerful antioxidant and studies have confirmed that it can help reduce the risk of various types of cancers. It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and so may be useful in treating arthritis and reduce bowel and bladder inflammation.
Water is essential for every chemical reaction in the body and therefore it needs to be in abundance for optimal metabolism of calories and conversion of fats to fuel. Your body uses energy in the consumption, digestion , usage and elimination of water. Studies at the University of Berlin suggest that consumption of 500ml elevated participants metabolic rate by 24% for up to an hour afterwards. Water also helps keep joints lubricated and makes up a large percentage of your muscle tissue and blood volume. Aim to drink 2-3 litres per day, but more may be needed in hot weather or if you live a very active life.
'Power Eating,' Susan Kleiner PhD, RD
'Ultra-Fit,' April 2013