Sure genetics come into play, but it turns out there is plenty we can do to optimize our metabolism — so much in fact that fitness expert and nutritionist Brad Davidson wrote a book about it, The Stark Naked 21-Day Metabolic Reset. We asked Davidson to give us an exclusive peak at his cheat sheet for how we can optimize our metabolism. Follow his advice and start reaping the benefits in as little as a few hours.
1. Sleep 7 to 9 hours every night
Sleep is the ultimate tool to optimize your metabolism. It literally recharges your metabolism every night. When you cheat sleep it demolishes your hormones, especially your testosterone levels. There are many studies that show only sleeping four hours versus eight hours for one night can reduce your total testosterone levels as much as 60% the next morning. Not sleeping enough also dramatically increases your risk of being obese by screwing up your body’s sensitivity to insulin and increasing your cravings for the wrongs foods.
Water is the most needed nutrient of the human body after oxygen. You don’t have to choose to breathe, as your autonomic nervous system takes care of that, but you do have to choose to drink water. So many of us are so busy with life we choose not to focus on water intake. The damage that creates in your metabolism is vast. Just walking around 10% dehydrated is enough to spike the stress hormone cortisol. When cortisol is elevated, it’s harder to lose fat. Your liver and kidneys need water to detoxify your body. Without water they can’t do their jobs and as toxins build, they tend to store in body fat. The blood is primarily water without enough of it your blood thickens forcing the heart to work harder increasing your risk of a heart attack. Just drinking enough water can increase metabolism by as much as 7%. Focus on drinking ½ your body weight in ounces of water a day for optimal water intake. For example, if you are 200 pounds you should aim for drinking 100 ounces of water a day.
3. Love your liver
Our livers are a major player in metabolism. It is responsible for over 600 metabolic activities. If this organ is not working optimally, your metabolism is not working optimally. Your hormones will be off, your ability to metabolize fat with altered, you will wake in the middle of the night, your blood chemistry will be negatively affected, and your energy will be horrible. If your metabolism is not functioning optimally, meaning you don’t feel great, look great, and perform great, you have got to start loving on your liver even if your liver enzymes are normal. Try these simple strategies:
- Drink warm lemon water with ½ lemon squeezed into it first thing in the morning
- Drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water like discussed earlier
- Consume more cruciferous vegetables, such as brussel sprouts, watercress, cauliflower, broccoli, and bok choy, as they contain specific amino acids that aid the liver in detoxification; as an added benefit they help regulate estrogens allowing for more optimal levels of testosterone
4. Eat less often
You must eat 5 to 6 meals a day to keep your metabolism at its peak and keep you out of starvation mode. How many of you have followed this advice? I know I did for years. I was so afraid of going too long without a meal and hitting starvation mode and quickly losing my hard earned muscle. I was scared to death of that as it takes a lot of effort to create lean muscle tissue. The problem I discovered was science didn’t back this claim. I’ve come across numerous studies disagreeing with this idea. It is true that digesting a meal raises metabolism slightly and this phenomenon is known as the thermic effect of food. However, it is the total amount of food consumed that determines the amount of energy expended during digestion. Eating 3 meals of 800 calories will cause the same thermic effect as eating 6 meals of 400 calories. I have found with my high achieving male clients, eating 3 meals a day works much better the trying to consume 5-6 meals a day. What matters most, however, is eating the right foods at the right time. Save your carbs for dinner and you will get amazing metabolism results.
5. Relax and conquer
Stress is a major factor in breaking down your metabolism, it breaks up homeostasis and literally triggers your body to store belly fat. It also negatively affects sex hormones. It reduces the production of testosterone and jams up the liver making it tougher to clear estrogen leading to a build of the feminizing hormone. Lastly when cortisol levels are too high it negatively affects the thyroid, eventually creating a sluggish thyroid and increasing your risk of hypothyroidism aka a very sluggish metabolism. To become resilient to stress, try a simple “Relax and Conquer” strategy of 10 minute guided meditation periods a couple times a day. Guided meditation calms the brain, reduces heart rate, and actually shuts off the stress trigger. Try apps like Headspace for simple yet powerful 10-minute guided meditations to grab control of stress versus letting stress wreck your metabolism.
6. Remove common food sensitivities
We all eat foods that trigger negative responses by our metabolism but most of us are completely unaware of these triggers. These are not IgE allergy responses like we commonly hear about. People with IgE allergies will eat a food that triggers an immediate intense response that can be life threatening. These triggers are very obvious, but there is another type of trigger that elicits a delayed response sometimes up to 36 hours later that are much weaker than the IgE response but still is powerful enough to raise havoc on your metabolism. When you eat these foods the body responds by producing inflammation and the symptoms can arise with weight gain, asthma, stomach issues, skin issues, lethargy, watery eyes, congestion, runny nose, foggy thinking, bloating, constipation to name a few. It is nearly impossible to know what these triggers are until you either run a blood test or partake in an elimination diet. Some of the most common foods we have seen that trigger inflammation in our clients are gluten, dairy, beef, shellfish, nuts, corn, broccoli, and grapes. I am not saying any of these foods are bad, but for a lot of people they raise havoc and need to be removed for a period of time. My favorite lab to run to discover these foods is the M.R.T. test by www.nowleap.com. If you can’t afford the test, just start by removing the above list of foods for 30 days and see how much better you feel.