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By Hilary Sheinbaum
There are a lot of misconceptions about health and wellness — and specifically, metabolism. For one, “it is a marathon, not a sprint,” says Allison Tibbs, a Tonal Coach, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and Precision Nutrition Coach. “So often people try to do dangerous things like fad diets, drink energy drinks, eat appetite suppressants, or even overtraining in efforts to ‘rev up their metabolism,'” she says. “Yes, you may see the pounds drop on the scale, but it is mostly water weight and loss of muscle mass.”
Instead of working one’s body to the bone in super intense workouts without much rest — which floods the body with cortisol and adrenaline and does not support a healthy metabolism over time — instead, Tibbs suggests that people focus on a more sustainable approach.
“Build muscle, hydrate, fuel with nourishing foods, and rest/recover.”
Beyond avoiding energy drinks and no-good appetite suppressants, Tibbs, based in San Francisco, gave us a rundown of other methods to avoid when trying to increase one’s metabolism. Bonus points: she included things you should be doing to increase your metabolism, too.
“In a world where we’re told to ‘hustle’ or ‘grind’ to get results, it can feel counterintuitive to take time to rest and recover from all of your well-earned hard work,” says Tibbs. “My mantra is ‘work hard, recover harder’ because that is where the magic happens. When you rest and recover, your muscles can build and grow, which means more opportunities to improve your metabolism and burn more calories.
“Fad diets wreak havoc on your metabolism because they often put you at a drastic calorie deficit or are so restrictive that you limit your body’s ability to build muscle and support its daily functions properly,” says Tibbs. “It can also cause an imbalance in your hormones, which are vital to maintaining a healthy and thriving metabolism.
“Your body is taking note of what you are thinking and feeling about it,” says Tibbs. “When our thoughts are negative about our body and our ability to reach our wellness goals, you may notice that it feels harder to make progress. I often work with clients on daily Body Gratitude practices to help them connect deeper with self-love and the why for their daily commitment to fitness and movement and nourishing their body with supportive foods.”
“Strength Training is a great way to build muscle, which can boost your metabolism,” says Tibbs. “Many people think that cardio is the only way to lose weight and ramp up their metabolism—the more lean muscle you build in your body, the higher your daily resting metabolic rate. Every pound of lean muscle you have uses about 5 -7 calories per day to maintain and sustain itself. More muscle means more calories burned daily. Adding 2 -3 strength training sessions a week can help to rev your metabolism and turn you into a fat-burning machine — even when you are not working out.”
“HIIT is another addition to add to your training regimen because of the increase in EPOC or Afterburn,” says Tibbs. “This elevates your metabolism after your training session due to the increase of oxygen consumption of your muscles. Plus, these workouts tend to be shorter in duration and more efficient. Adding 1 – 2 HIIT workouts to complement your strength training program can help you boost your metabolism.”
“Hydration is Queen,” says Tibbs. “When I work with clients, I often prioritize hydration because dehydration slows down your metabolism. We find ways to sneak in more water throughout the day, like drinking hot water with lemon in the morning before drinking their cup of coffee or adding fresh mint or lime slices to add more flavor. Even eating fruits and vegetables with a high water content like melons and cucumbers can be helpful. Aim for half your body weight in ounces of water, but add more when you work out.”
Now that you’ve been prepared, the metabolism marathon starts now!