Your metabolic rate describes the speed and efficiency with which your body is able to process food for energy and waste for elimination.
Diets rich in plant whole foods support metabolic efficiency best, because they are easily assimilable and loaded with phytonutrients, minerals and vitamins that help speed up your body's processing capability.
The problem with diets loaded with concentrated foods like animal products, chemical additives, processed and refined foods, is that they all create varying degrees of chaos within the body, slowing your body's ability to efficiently metabolise the nutrients you consume.
If you've been enjoying a whole food plant-based diet for years, you'll probably be able to relate to this fact. Not only do plant-based whole food diets dramatically lower disease risk, but they also cultivate a better functioning, more energetic metabolism and body.
Learn more: 7 Reasons to Adopt a Plant-Based Diet & How to Do It.
How A Plant-Based Diet Increases Metabolic Rate
At a cellular level, a plant based diet boosts the function of the mitochondria, known as the powerhouse of the cell.
A diet rich in whole food, naturally elevates cell nourishment, which in turn makes you less hungry and reduces your addictions to processed food and ultimately translates to a lower body fat composition.
Recently a group of researchers studied how eating a plant-based diet affects the metabolism.
The study, which was published in the JAMA Network Open and conducted by researchers at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, offered an eye-opening glimpse into yet another benefit of going plant-based.
Half of the participants in the study followed a strictly plant-based diet for 16 weeks. The other half of the study participants were used as the control group. Other than advising the plant-based group to eat only fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, this group was given no caloric limit. The control group was told to simply eat a regular diet, including a variety of animal products, packaged and processed foods.
By the end of the 16 weeks, the completely plant-based group was shown to have boosted their after-meal calorie burn by 16%, while also losing an average of 6 kilograms.
What's more, the plant-based participants saw a reduction of fat in the liver and muscle cells, which by extension, lowered the insulin resistance in these organs.
LDL cholesterol (i.e. bad cholesterol that forms when you eat a lot of meat and animal products) was also reduced, and combined with all these other factors, metabolic health was greatly increased.
In summary, the recent research highlights that when it comes to your health, nature's table provides us with an abundance of what we need to nourish our cells, support optimum body function and to live more energetic, vital lives.
Tips For Moving Towards A Whole Plant-Based Diet
Moving towards a plant-based diet isn't as difficult as many people may think. And it certainly can be a pleasant transition when you start looking at the diversity, wonder and colour of whole foods that nature offers through a different set of eyes.
With a new found appreciation for a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains, pretty soon you'll see that moving to a more whole food based diet is not complicated and can actually be super enjoyable and delightful in taste.
Here are our top tips for transitioning to an entirely (or just predominately) plant-based diet.
1. Move in Stages
The best way to ensure you make real, lasting changes is to take things one step at a time. If it seems too daunting for you to completely overhaul your diet in one go to a whole food based lifestyle, then move in stages.
A great way to start is to embrace a philosophy of "adding more raw" at each and every meal. In other words, each time you eat, try to substitute a processed or package food with a raw, fresh variety.
Two helpful beginner tips include:
- Make your first meal of the day a fruit based or green smoothie based on coconut water, coconut milk or almond milk. Ingredients to add include frozen banana chunks, mango or berries, 1-2 pitted medjool dates (to sweeten), handful of organic spinach leaves and 1/2 ripe avocado (if preparing a green smoothie);
- Eat one leafy green salad per day; either at lunch or dinner time. Use Cos Lettuce, Iceberg Lettuce, Spinach or Rocket as a base and a few ingredients like, cherry tomatoes, cucumber chunks, spanish onion, walnuts and avocado. Dress with fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, celtic sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
2. Get Inspired
One of the main roadblocks to moving towards a whole food based diet is a lack of inspiration.
As mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to develop a new found appreciation for whole foods is to visit and shop at your local farmer's markets on the weekend. The environment and colour on display can help inspire a love for a wide range of plant foods.
Another great idea is to get your hands on a whole food or plant based cookbook and to find a small handful of recipes that appeal to you. Look for recipes and ideas that are simple to prepare that don't require a lot of ingredients, experiment with them and make them your own.
Substitute one meal each week with a brand new whole food recipe to broaden your whole food meal preparation skills.
3. Be Smart With Snack Food
Snack foods can either make or break a healthy diet and metabolism.
What you eat in between meals is just as important as what you eat for your main meals of the day. Your snacking routine should support a healthy overall diet and lifestyle, not derail it.
Some amazing and easy whole food based snacks include:
- Celery and organic peanut butter
- Apples and almond butter
- Coconut yogurt topped with a handful of raw nuts or berries
- Home-Made Hummus and wholegrain crackers
- Roasted chick peas with olive oil and sea salt
Loaded with raw nuts, dried fruit, seeds and roots, just a handful of Pulse will keep you satiated and energised without the crash.
Pulse is perfect for on-the-go snacking any time, before, during or after a workout, or crumble it onto some coconut yogurt for delightful mid morning snack.
3 Lifestyle Adjustments For Boosting Your Metabolism
Make movement a daily must
Regular moderate exercise, can significantly boost your metabolism, not just during your workout, but for hours after.
Aim to work your body to the point of a sweat for at least 30-45 minutes every day, which will support your cardiovascular strength as well.
Great examples include:
- Brisk walking that includes sight hills or inclines
- Lap swimming
- Hot Yoga
Adding some resistance to your muscles 2-3 times per week also, will have an even greater impact on your metabolism because as you stimulate muscle fibres, you naturally burn more fat and greatly improve your overall body strength and composition.
Examples of muscle strengthening activities include:
- Circuit Training
- Weight Training
- Interval Training
Get enough sleep
Sleep can help keep your metabolism running at its best, since sleep regulates your hormones and bodily processes.
Studies have shown that people who don't get enough sleep, can have increased levels of a hunger hormone called ghrelin and decreased levels of the fullness hormone called leptin, which could lead to overeating and weight gain.
Aim for 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night to support your metabolism, immune system and overall healthy body function.
Learn more: Sleep and Dreams: The Greatest Cosmic Gift.
If you want to improve your metabolic health, you don’t need to spend money on so-called miracle supplements or cures. Simply move towards a diet rich in plant whole foods, greatly limit processed, packaged and refined foods, drink enough water, get enough sleep and ensure you practice regular moderate exercise and you'll begin to see the results.
None of those things are difficult. They just may require some tweaks to your daily habits, which over time will have a big impact on, not only your metabolic rate, but your overall health and wellbeing.
Tolman Self Care.