If the numbers on the scale are creeping up even though you're working out and eating right, you may blame it on your slow metabolism. While it is true, and unfortunate, that your metabolism slows down as you age, you can help speed it up. But eating more fiber, while certainly beneficial when it comes to weight control, won't boost your metabolic rate.
Your metabolism is a complex and complicated biological process, but in a nutshell, it is the way your body turns food into energy. Most of this food energy, which you may more commonly refer to as calories, is used to run basic body functions you probably don't even think about, such as your breathing, heart rate and brain activity. These basic functions run your basal metabolic rate, and are relatively fixed. Digestion of food and physical activity also influence your metabolism, but physical activity is really the only way you can boost it. The more active you are, the more calories you burn.
Sometimes referred to as roughage, fiber is the part of the plant your body cannot digest or absorb. Even though your body doesn't digest fiber, it offers a number of health benefits. Fiber lowers both cholesterol and blood sugar levels, alleviates constipation and may help prevent you from developing hemorrhoids. Women need 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds are your best sources of fiber.
Fiber and Weight Loss
Fiber in food may not boost your metabolism, but if you're trying to lose weight, it can help. Foods high in fiber tend to take longer to chew, slowing your mealtime, which allows time for your stomach to tell your brain you're full. Soluble fiber, found in oatmeal, beans and apples, slows digestion and helps keep you feeling full longer. High-fiber foods are also low in calories, so eating them satisfies hunger while saving you calories.
If you want to boost your metabolism, physical activity is the best way to go. Aerobic exercises, such as jogging and biking, are great ways to burn extra calories. Weight training also helps by preserving your muscle, which burns more calories than fat. If you really want to rev things up, the American College of Sports Medicine says high-intensity interval training can speed things up and help you lose weight. High-intensity interval training is when you intermingle short periods of high-intensity exercise with bouts of lower intensity exercise. This type of exercise is not for the novice.
- MayoClinic.com: Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories
- MayoClinic.com: Dietary Fiber: Essential For a Healthy Diet
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Fiber
- American College of Sports Medicine: For All-Day Metabolism Boost, Try Interval Training
- American Council on Exercise: What is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and What are the Benefits?
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.