Although some might curse their fast metabolism, especially people who want to build muscle, but for others, a high basal metabolic rate, or BMR for short, is beneficial as it can help in weight loss, among other things. There are a number of ways to speed up metabolism naturally, including eating spicy food and doing HIIT workouts, but admittedly, all these require some effort or at least some cooking skills. What if there was a way to kickstart your metabolism, one that requires less effort?
Why is metabolism important and why should you care in the first place? Having a high metabolic rate can help you feel more energised and it can also help you burn more calories without moving a muscle. Interestingly enough, exercising more in general can increase metabolism which in turn will increase your resting metabolic rate, the amount of energy your body requires to sustain itself.
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What might be this silver bullet that can increase metabolism and doesn't require any effort? It's sleeping. But not just any ol' sleeping, of course. Getting three hours of sleep every night won't help metabolism. On the contrary, sleep deprivation "can alter the glucose metabolism and hormones involved in regulating metabolism, that is, decreased leptin levels and increased ghrelin levels", as a study from 2010 mentions.
The research quoted above is called "Sleep and Metabolism: An Overview (opens in new tab)" and in it, researchers found that there is U-shaped relationship between sleep duration and metabolic dysregulation, meaning that both sleeping less and more than required could have a negative effect on metabolism. The paper goes on by saying: "Paradoxically a similar U-shaped relation is also noted in several studies looking at the relationship between sleep and weight, with both short and long sleep leading to weight gain."
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Establishing a good sleeping pattern might not be the easiest task for everyone but it's beneficial for more than just one reason, especially when it comes to weight loss. Late night snacking can be avoided by not staying up too late in the first place and going to bed in time can also help in fasting for a bit longer without being hungry.
Intermittent fasting in itself is thought to have a positive effect on the body and can help boost metabolism and weight loss too. During fasting, "human growth hormone levels go up and insulin levels go down. Your body’s cells also change the expression of genes and initiate important cellular repair processes", according to Healthline (opens in new tab).
Ideally, you would like to sleep for 7-9 hours a day. The NHS suggest (opens in new tab) that "most adults need between 6 and 9 hours of sleep every night." The actual amount of sleep you need is also determined by your circadian rhythm, your activity levels and your age. Following a pre-bedtime routine can help transition into 'sleep mode' easier.
This is part of T3's Fit for 2021 programme, which will be running throughout January. We aim to bring you tips on diet, lifestyle and exercise that will help you shape up for what is certain to be a difficult year. One thing we can guarantee: it WILL be better than last year. And hopefully we'll help you get the most out of it.