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What it really means to have a good metabolism (and how to boost yours)

Ever run into that guy or girl with a killer six-pack and legs to die for, who slams pizza and wings every night for dinner? They can enjoy all the “bad” foods they want and somehow still have a rockin’ physique, while you gain weight just looking at a cheeseburger.

While it may seem like these people live in a perfect world, it’s no doubt that you’re wondering how they can get away with that and you slave away for hours only to eat rabbit food.

“It’s genetic,” a phrase that is used oftentimes in a defensive context: “I have great legs because it runs in the family,” “She only looks like that because she has great genes.” Whatever way you slice the genetic logic, there is certainly some truth to it. Body types, for example, tend to be genetic. If you’re an endomorph, ectomorph or mesomorph, chances are most of the people in your immediate bloodline are as well. Sometimes genetics are in our favor, and sometimes they’re not. So what exactly does your shredded pizza eatin’ friend mean when they say “I just have a good metabolism?”

When we go back to our discussion of body types, if you classify yourself as an ectomorph, chances are you have a naturally fast metabolism. Ectomorphs are your typical skinny people; lean, stringy limbs, hard time gaining weight. These individuals are typically hard-gainers, as they have a hard time putting on mass. While having a fast metabolism seems like a good thing, it can be an issue for those trying to gain weight or muscle mass.

Whether you were handed the right cards or not in the gene pool, there are things you can do to alter the rate of your metabolism. It’s safe to say the majority of us wish we had a faster metabolism, not a slower one. After all, obesity wouldn’t be as much an epidemic if the world was full of ectomorphs running around. So what are some things we can do or incorporate into our diets to help boost our metabolic rate?

  • Perform high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • Eat foods such as poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, beans
  • Lift weights (muscle mass burns more calories at rest than fat mass)
  • Eat small, frequent meals
  • Eat more protein
  • Drink green tea

There is no real way to permanently boost your metabolism. Because of this, it’s important to practice healthy habits regularly so that you can keep your metabolism at high speed on a daily basis. As soon as your metabolic-boosting habits drop off, your rate will return to its norm. Take advantage of the hour/hours after a workout (the “afterburn window”) when your metabolism is boosted. Ideally, this would be the best time to eat foods that are more calorie-dense vs nutrient-dense.

Whether you fall under the good or bad category when it comes to metabolism, there’s only a certain degree of control you have over your body’s fat burning center. The best you can do is to engage in regular exercise and a healthy diet. Who knows, you may trick your friends into thinking you’re that genetically-blessed person.

Image: Yuri/Getty Images

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