Do you have big plans to boost your health and metabolism in January? Many of our patients say that they would like to take control of their wellness in 2020. These aspirations often include losing some of the extra weight that they’ve picked up over the holidays.
However, we know that it’s important not to get too caught up in the numbers on the scale. Instead, a good alternative goal is to focus on lowering your body fat, if that would help your overall health. Or, aim to raise your energy levels. In other words, your goal should always be to improve your quality of life, not to chase after an elusive number on a scale or a clothing size.
No matter why you want to lose weight, it’s important to approach your New Year’s resolution with a strategy. Having a concrete plan increases your odds of success. Here’s a sobering fact: About 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by February.
The Metabolism Run-Up to the New Year
Think about it. We often coast through December, eating, drinking, and neglecting our usual fitness routine. Then January arrives and we expect our body to adjust to an austere new regimen. It’s no wonder that many people either give up altogether or wind up injured.
Believe it or not, it is possible to prime your body and mind in preparation for January’s resolutions while still enjoying your holidays. That includes revving up your metabolism so that it’s ready to deal with the anticipated holiday dietary indiscretions. It’s even possible to get started on this during the busy month of December. Here are some steps that will help.
7 Ways to Avoid Packing On Extra Pounds This Holiday Season
Watch What You Eat
This is not just about how much or how many calories you eat. The macro and micronutrient choices that you make when selecting your food change how efficiently your body metabolizes fat. In particular, include a source of protein with every meal. One reason for this is that it helps your body to maintain its muscle tone. A second reason for doing so is to stabilize your blood sugar. A stable blood sugar means keeping cravings at bay. If you aren’t taking in enough calories, your body will turn to the protein in your muscle tissue for fuel. This means that you will lose muscle mass when you lose weight. Losing muscle mass slows your metabolism.
Sip on Herbal Teas
While you’re celebrating the holidays, consider switching some of that eggnog and champagne for herbal tea. Not only is it lower in calories, but you will be consuming more water. Staying hydrated is a great catalyst for weight loss. Warm water is soothing to your digestive system which also improves your metabolism. Some appropriate teas for the holiday season are:
- Peppermint tea is particularly good for digestion. It will help a stomach that is complaining about the extra burden of rich or heavy food
- Chamomile tea calms your nervous system and sets you up for a good night’s sleep
- Rooibos tea is full of antioxidants as well as being a natural energy booster without caffeine.
Eat Probiotic-Rich Foods
Before you even start ramping up your healthy eating routine, get your gut in shape from the inside! Healthy gut bacteria help with weight control. In fact, the makeup of the gut bacteria or microbiome of overweight or obese people is typically different than that of people of a healthy weight. Your gut bacteria benefit from all of the same things that you do overall – good sleep, healthy whole foods, plant-based diet, exercise, and reduced stress.
In addition to consuming fermented foods like kimchi or yogurt, taking a high-quality probiotic supplement in December boosts your gut bacteria levels. Not only can probiotics pave the way for better digestion in January, but they also boost your immune system which makes for a healthier social season.
Since we’re not technically moving during our sleeping hours, it doesn’t seem like that time would impact your base metabolism. However, researchers have found that getting enough sleep, which for most people is around eight hours, is essential to an efficient metabolism.
Get Enough Vitamin D
During the winter, and especially before you make any dietary changes, it’s a good idea to check your Vitamin D levels. In addition to its many other health benefits, new studies have found that vitamin D helps with weight loss. In one study, women with adequate amounts of vitamin D in their bloodstream lost more weight than women who were deficient in vitamin D.
Note that it is difficult, if not impossible, to get enough vitamin D through diet alone. At this time of the year with cloudy days and long nights, we often don’t get enough sun exposure to generate our own vitamin D. Supplementation is key this time of year.
Did you know that if your blood test shows that you are vitamin D deficient, you actually may be magnesium deficient? It’s true. There are many occasions where
Top Up Your Magnesium
Magnesium helps with many processes in your body. There is so much demand for magnesium that a deficiency of this mineral is quite common. Stress depletes your magnesium level. Our soil is also lacking magnesium, so plant foods that should supply you with magnesium, don’t.
Although it may not directly impact weight loss, having adequate levels of magnesium helps you sleep more deeply, regulates your moods, and controls your blood sugar. Those are all important elements to maintaining a healthy metabolism and sticking to healthy habits.
Good sources of magnesium include leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, and dark chocolate. For most people, particularly anyone with high stress, magnesium glycinate supplements are essential.
Keep Active to Boost Your Metabolism
Yes, it’s hard when you’re busy. However, continuing to stay active makes it easier to hit the gym when you’re ready to ramp back up to your usual routine in January. Not only will your muscles stay limber, but you’ll also be taking steps to prevent your mind from slipping into a winter funk. We have a tendency to get derailed in our fitness efforts when the holidays hit. The festivities mess with your usual schedule. Throwing off your routine lowers your self-discipline and motivation. This is unfortunate timing because the lack of exercise in January and February contributes to February blahs.
The good news is that it doesn’t take too much to maintain your base fitness levels. Think mini-workouts. Remember: It’s better to do even a little bit, every day than to be a weekend warrior. So, fit in some 10 to 20-minute workouts. Try a short YouTube cardio video. Meet up with some friends at yoga or even walk around the mall! Your metabolism will be grateful that you did come January.
If you’re focusing on sustaining your metabolism so that you can crush those New Year’s resolutions in 2020, make sure that you include strength training. Simply put, the more muscle you have, the more super-charged your metabolism will be. Even when you’re just sitting still or sleeping, you’ll burn more calories.
If you’re not sure how to begin with all these tips, the best plan is to speak with an expert! We’d be happy to help you create a unique plan that suits you.
Yes, improving your metabolism feels like a daunting task this time of the year. There are so many temptations and the instinct to hibernate kicks in. However, taking a few simple steps now helps you get ready to meet your New Year’s resolutions head-on! Call us at 416-481-0222.
Authored by Naturopath Dr. Pamela Frank