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How to speed up a slow metabolism

A slow metabolism can be sped up with the right precautions. And an adequate amount of proteins.

If it takes longer than expected to get a good start in the morning, maybe it’s because of a “wrong” breakfast. The first meal of the day should be abundant and complete to enable us to quickly and completely activate our metabolic, physical and mental system in order to burn fat and stay fit. Eating just after waking, according to experts, means communicating to the body that we have plenty of energy; on the contrary, when we start your day eating little, just drinking a coffee and ingesting some cookies, we send a message of hunger to our body that is interpreted as a need not to consume food. In this way you get to gain weight even if you eat very little. The interpretation of the signals that the body sends our brain about how we eat is one of the most fascinating fields that science is currently investigating. These are signals that can change the way our metabolism functions as well as our hormonal balance and many other aspects through simple choices, like that of making breakfast in the morning or not.

insulin carbohydrates protein metabolism
Combining carbohydrates with protein (even at breakfast) helps maintaining the balanced insulin levels in the blood

Better not to reduce the daily calorie intake too much

One of the basic rules to tone up our metabolism is to never lower our daily calorie intake too much: when our body doesn’t get the fuel it needs, it employs a defense mechanism to save energy. Basically, the less we eat, the less energy we burn and, as a consequence, our metabolism slows down. So, our body, in order to have available the amount of energy denied, makes our metabolism slower, transforming the muscles into sugars that can then be immediately used as fuel. Instead, we have to keep the muscle mass the way it is to keep the metabolism functioning as it always does. The muscle tissue, in fact, burns energy when it is used as well as when it is at rest; the fat, on the contrary, is almost metabolically inert. So, it’s better to reactivate our metabolism by other means, e.g. with aerobic exercise, such as cycling, swimming, water gymnastics, jogging, brisk walking. We should at least do 30 minutes of exercise every day, or 1 hour for three times a week.

sport physical activity metabolism
Aerobic physical activity reactivates the metabolism

The importance of the insulin balance

Another important way of not gaining weight is to maintain the insulin balance. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas whose main action is, as immunologist Attilio Speciani clearly explains, “to put out sugary fires”. The blood sugar levels are constantly monitored by the body: if they’re too low we feel hungry, if they’re too high, the pancreas immediately secretes insulin. Our body is programmed to receive a large amount of sugar (once the only sources of sugar were berries, sour fruit, some cereal and honey). Every time we eat pasta made of white flour or a dessert, our “primitive” body emits an alarm signal that triggers the production of insulin, which is very useful to recover energy. In case we eat too much pasta or sweets our pancreas’ ability to produce insulin is altered and we risk to suffer from diabetes and our body is more prone to inflammation. When our body removes the exceeding sugar from the blood, it stores it in order to have it available when necessary. It then turns stored sugar into triglycerides and holds it between the fat layers, making it difficult to remove them. So what to do to maintain the insulin balance? We should consume carbohydrates only with proteins (including at breakfast), choose foods with low glycemic index (grains, which are high in fibre), a few simple sugars, and do physical activity.

grains pulses metabolism
A main course dish with grains, vegetables and pulses is rich in protein and balanced

Three meals, two snacks

A hearty breakfast, morning snack, balanced lunch, mid-afternoon snack, light dinner: by dividing calories in this way we activate the process of digestion several times in a day, constantly stimulating the metabolism. This distribution of calories causes the body starts at full speed in the morning and slows down in the evening, in order avoid the stratification of fats that occurs in the people who eat too much before going to sleep. The body burns energy to metabolise the nutrients it received and the more the meals are complete and varied, the greater this effect. If you have the need to make an extra snack, choose fruit or vegetables which as Speciani says “quickly go through the stomach because they are rich in water and fibre, and they are considered as water by the digestive system, so they don’t cause insulin levels to rise”.

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