Eat more to lose weight? That sounds amazing, right? And it works! It’s all about boosting your metabolism – the faster your metabolism works, the more kilojoules you’ll burn … even when you are resting. Win win! Now, this doesn’t mean you can pig out on fast food and expect to drop a size. You need to understand how your body processes food, what foods you will need for optimal function and get your meal timing right. We’ve got the lowdown from Herbalife Nutrition on how to figure it all out:
What a low glycemic index means and why you want it: While all foods can technically boost energy, not all are going to give you sustained energy – and that’s what you’re after. Complex carbs, healthy fats (avocado and nuts), and protein (fish, chicken, tempeh and eggs) take longer to digest, satisfying your hunger while providing a slow, steady stream of energy. The result: a low glycemic index. Low is good, and here’s why:
- High glycemic index food – or junk food – requires less energy to digest as it’s high in refined ingredients, which means the body will continue to be hungry, signaling the brain to want more food.
- Every time you miss a meal, or rob your body of adequate nutrients, your blood sugar drops, releasing a hormone in the body that makes you burn muscle—not fat. This in turn makes you crave more carbs to help sustain energy. And yes, carbs are important to give your body energy, but focusing more on meeting your daily protein requirements may burn more rather than eating as many carbs as possible. It’s all about finding a balance of carbs, proteins and fats to provide kilojoules to fuel exercise and energize your body.
It’s all in the mitochondria: These little guys break down the glucose we consume into energy that the cells in our body can use and are therefore crucial for all cells’ survival and function in the body, including proper adrenal function. Why is that important? Adrenal glands produce hormones that help regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, response to stress and other essential functions. Keeping the adrenals healthy is critical to achieving weight loss, energy, and wellness.
What can you do for your mitochondria? Exercise increases the number of mitochondria improving our body’s ability to produce energy. Also, two excellent ways to supply energy to the mitochondria are L-carnitine and creatine from natural food sources. Not only do they help provide energy to the body, they are also integral in helping build muscle mass. Opt for grass-fed beef, bison, eggs, and poultry. Plant-based proteins like beans, nuts, and seeds can also do the job.
You want to focus on B vitamins, as these are water soluble, allowing your body to absorb only what it needs, leaving any excess to pass through your urine. Not eating a balanced diet, consuming excessive alcohol, or using various medications may result in being low in B vitamins. Here’s the breakdown:
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) is used by the brain and nervous system;
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) counters oxidative stress;
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin) supports some basic brain functions;
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) supports important neurotransmitters (brain chemicals);
- Vitamin B12 is important for energy production as it helps transform the food we eat into energy that cells can use, helps form red blood cells that are necessary for lung function, and converts fat and protein to energy.
Load up on leafy greens: Cooked spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, chard, bok choy, beet greens and Chinese broccoli are all energy boosting foods, with chlorophyll, magnesium and B vitamins.
If you’re already eating a fair amount of greens, you could also look at upping your iron intake as well as CoQ10 (or ubiquinol), which stimulates the cell’s powerhouse (the mitochondria) to produce more energy. Ubiquinol is found in every cell in your body, and with aging, the body typically has less of it.