How To Boost Your Metabolism

How To Boost Your Metabolism

Are you having trouble losing those last few pounds? Feeling tired all the time or not recovering normally from exercise? You may need to examine how your lifestyle and dietary choices are affecting your metabolism.

What causes a slow metabolism?

In a word — mitochondria, the tiny powerhouse organelles in every cell that churn out ATP, the ubiquitous cellular energy molecule, non-stop! You may not have thought about them since high school biology, but mitochondria are crucially important in cellular health. Almost all of the ATP your body creates is made in mitochondria, and without ATP, and the energy stored in its chemical bonds, nothing happens — nerves don’t fire and muscles don’t contract! If you want to produce more energy, and perform better physically and mentally, you’ll need to provide the best possible environment for mitochondria.

What are the factors affecting mitochondrial function?

Several factors can have a negative effect on mitochondria [1]:

  • Chronic stress promotes inflammation and a downturn in mitochondrial activity.
  • Antibiotics and drugs that lower cholesterol, statins, diminish mitochondrial function.
  • Environmental toxins like BPA, a chemical used to produce water bottles and line food cans, cause mitochondrial dysfunction.
  • Depletion of CoQ10, an antioxidant made in the body, impairs mitochondria.
  • Aging takes a toll, too.

Since mitochondria exist in every cell, and the need for ATP is universal and constant, it makes sense that factors interfering with mitochondrial function exert a profound influence on quality of life and sense of wellbeing. Mitochondrial dysfunction is known to play a role in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), cancer, heart disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Increasingly, medical researchers are finding that reduced mitochondrial function contributes to almost every metabolic disease!

Protecting mitochondria must become a priority

If mitochondria play such a crucial role in metabolic and systemic health, it is imperative to modify one’s lifestyle to protect them:

  • Regular exercise is crucial because it reduces systemic inflammation, but also because it promotes formation of healthy mitochondria as an adaptive response to the heightened metabolic demands on skeletal and cardiac muscle tissue. Intense resistance exercise also creates new mitochondria, perhaps preventing sarcopenia, the age-related loss of lean tissue. [2]
  • Aging is strongly correlated with cellular levels of NADH, a compound mitochondria use to make ATP, the ultimate energy molecule. Older individuals have sharply lower levels of NADH. Healthy mitochondria assure a large store of NADH.
  • Mitochondria have their own DNA, which “communicates” with the nuclear genome. Damage to mitochondrial DNA can cause debilitating metabolic diseases.

What can I do to protect mitochondria and make more of them?

Think more moderate level and intense exercise. Do not make resistance workouts too long — 45 minutes is plenty if you work hard and fast — and rather than rest between weightlifting sets, exercise an antagonistic muscle group, say combining bench presses with pull-ups, or leg presses with glute-ham raises. Longer sessions create too much muscle damage, slow recovery, and provide few additional benefits.

Some food supplements have been shown to promote mitochondrial health:

  • L-Carnitine, an amino acid derivative found in lean beef, chicken, and fish helps reduce inflammation; you can also take it as a food supplement.
  • D-Ribose, a sugar found in asparagus and spinach, maximizes post-exercise ATP synthesis.
  • CoQ10 helps mitochondria make more ATP. You can increase CoQ10 levels by taking about 100 mg of ubiquinol daily.

Exercise. Eat a diet rich in polyphenols, leafy green veggies, and antioxidants. Supplement with L-carnitine, D-ribose, and CoQ10 daily. And mind your hydration. A healthy metabolism and long life will surely follow.