Most of you must have heard of the 80 percent nutrition-to-20 percent fitness rule at some time in your life. The rule when simply put implies that while you can work out to your heart’s content, it is only by working on your diet that you’d achieve results and the optimum fitness levels that you have been aiming for. This explains why despite working out and working really hard for a sustained period, some of us fail to achieve the fitness levels that we set for ourselves. And while a lot of factors play a crucial role here, it is indeed your eating habits that reign supreme.
Now, as we navigate our lives through the coronavirus pandemic, most of us are constantly homebound which means there has been a considerable decrease in our daily activity, compromised workout routines, as well as a ton of stress, none of which is good news for our metabolism. Our metabolism basically refers to our BMR and as Ashu Wadhwa, Dietician, Therapeutic Nutritionist, Academic Counselor at Jamia Hamdard University, and Founder of Nourish The Diet Hub explains “BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate is the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest." BMR is also known as our body’s metabolic rate and plays an important role in keeping our weight and overall health in check.
Now, with our gyms and fitness classes being effectively shut right now, it is integral that we work on our metabolism. We, therefore, reached out to three nutrition experts to understand ways of tweaking our eating habits for better metabolism. Seeking to improve your BMR? Read on:
Emphasising on the importance of hydration in fueling the metabolism, Ashu explains, “Even a one percent dip in hydration can impact our BMR. This is why it is very important to stay hydrated irrespective of the weather. This is very important to understand because while the body's need for water remains unchanged throughout the year, in winter months people feel about 40 percent less thirsty. Even sweat evaporates more rapidly in the cold, dry air, and that can result in dehydration. While in summers, air conditioners tend to absorb moisture from the air that can contribute to dehydration. Thus, it is vital to consciously keep yourself hydrated.”
Huda Shaikh, Chief Nutritionist and Clinical Dietitian at NutriBond further adds to the importance of hydration by saying, “It doesn't entirely have to be water. You can have a lot of water along with buttermilk, green tea, lemon water, etc. to keep yourself hydrated."
As Ashu explains, proteins help in regulating our metabolism by a high thermic effect that they have on our bodies, She explains, "Our bodies require a lot of heat to digest proteins and that's why they help us in a great deal with our BMR."
However, the main problem arises with our limited protein consumption. “We are a protein-deficient population and tend to think that a piece of chicken with lunch or an egg for breakfast will cater to our protein needs which is just not true," says Huda. It is essential for us to consume at least 20-25 grams of proteins with every main meal. This protein can be consumed from a number of sources including seeds, nuts, eggs, meat, and dairy.
Speaking on the role of a protein-rich diet for a sound metabolic rate, Lovneet Batra, clinical nutritionist and founder of Nutrition by Loveneet says, “So basically when we talk of a sound metabolism, we are seeking that our energy output outweighs our energy intake. Thus it is very important to eat food in combinations that don't spike your insulin level and protein rich-diet."
Loveneet suggests that a fat first diet can in fact do wonders in regulating out insulin levels. "Start your day with either coconut oil, seeds, or nuts to keep your insulin level in check," she suggests.
As we speak of controlling insulin levels, it is very important to understand that staying hungry for long periods doesn't help the case at all. "A good, hearty breakfast helps a great deal. Start your day with lean proteins like egg, sprouts, and yogurt," shares Lovneet.
Ashu shares that Indian spices also work magic when it comes to regulating our metabolism, She explains, "Indian spices like cumin, cinnamon, ginger, etc. play an integral role in spiking up your metabolic rate." However, she also suggests that this needs to be practiced with caution. Ashu shares, "While consuming these spices you also need to be conscious of your body’s Ayurvedic Prakriti. For instance, if you tend to have a lot of body heat then consuming spices like cinnamon, ginger, etc. can aggravate your condition. In such cases, you’d have to opt for neutral concoctions that balance the overall effect of these spices.”
Huda explains that while proteins are indeed very important, a wholesome diet needs to be a combination of sufficient proteins plus essential fats and fibres. Apart from proteins, "It is very important to consume essential fatty acids like Omega 3 and Omega 6 that can easily be found in seeds including flax, sunflower, and chia seeds," she shares.
Lovneet suggests that for a healthy metabolism, we need to consume a variety of grains throughout the day instead of relying on a single one. Thus, our diets can be a combination of millets, rice, and wheat all through the day.
Lastly, as Huda asserts, “The truth is that metabolism is all subjective. And while you might be eating right, sometimes few habits like erratic sleeping patterns, inactivity, too much stress, being on medication, etc. can easily hamper your overall metabolic rate.” And thus, diet can surely take you a long way, but you also need to work on all of these habits as well.
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