Growing up, almost every single one of my friends was skinny. They could eat Oreos, drink soda, eat cake, and never gain a pound. Me on the other hand, not so much. I wasn’t fat, but definitely not skinny. And that was always one of my biggest wonders in life:
why is someone naturally skinny and why is someone naturally fat?
The more I read, experimented, and interviewed people, the real answer came down to science. The mere statement of “faster metabolism” just doesn’t tell you anything. What does that actually mean? And why is it that I have a fast metabolism at 26 but didn’t at 13? The answers my friends, all has to do with hormones.
Having a fast metabolism is often defined as the speed/rate in which your body metabolizes all the food you take in. So you ask yourself; great, how can I get my body to use everything I eat more efficiently and NOT GET FAT?
It’s quite simple. Insulin.
Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas, and its primary job is to regulate glucose in the body. It’s also known as the “fat storage” hormone.
The way it works is like this; when you eat an apple (which is primarily sugar) insulin is called upon in order to regulate all of the sugar from the apple. It needs to figure out what to do with it.
Someone with a fast metabolism uses insulin efficiently, so the insulin will take that sugar, find what cells can use it and essentially deliver it to them. This is called insulin sensitivity. Someone with a not so fast metabolism is often associated with insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is the opposite of insulin sensitivity. What it means is, when insulin is trying to regulate the blood sugar, it tries to deliver it to your cells, but because your cells are not sensitive to it, they resist it. They essentially are going “sorry insulin, we can’t take any more sugar right now, go somewhere else.”
Insulin NEEDS to bring the sugar somewhere, and guess what will always take in more sugar, no matter what? Your fat cells.
The biological process of “getting fat” is literally insulin delivering particles into your fat cells, making them grow. And when fat cells grow, you get fat. It’s a wildly beautiful process. But it sucks.
That explains why Johnny can eat 5 pieces of cake, 20 doughnuts, and 8 sodas and not get fat. He is so insulin sensitive that no matter how much sugar he eats, insulin will be able to deliver every bit of it to his cells and they can use it for energy.
In order to speed up you metabolism, you need to get your cells sensitive to insulin. Below are seven ways to do this:
1. Eat a low-carb diet
The less sugar/carbs you bring into your body, the more efficiently insulin can do its job. You’re not overloading your cells with glucose, and therefore they won’t resist insulin when it tries to deliver the goods.
The longer you eat low carb, the more insulin sensitive you will become, and thus you can start introducing the RIGHT carbs back into your diet.
2. Lift weights
Insulin’s cool uncle that lives like a rock star is Testosterone. The more T you have in your body, the better insulin will be able to do its job. Lifting weights is the #1 ways to raise testosterone.
Plus, the act of building muscle requires lots of energy, and when your body is trying to build, your cells will be more SENSITIVE to insulin delivering the goods.
3. Eat more protein and fat
Carbs raise your insulin, protein and fat do not. The idea that eating lots of fat will make you fat is actually not true.
Fat storage is stimulated by insulin, and fat does not raise insulin, in fact, it is a more potent source of energy for the body than carbs. Healthy fat. Not “fake fat” like margarine, fake peanut butter, etc.
4. Take fish oil supplements
All cell walls are made up of fatty acids that coat them and allow for fluid motion throughout the body. Omega 3′s in particular make up a large portion of our cell walls, and unfortunately, many people are deficient.
By taking fish oil, you will strengthen your cells, and also help your body mobilize fatty acids in the body and use them for energy rather than fat storage.
5. Power trio: cinnamon/garlic/turmeric
These three spices are notoriously good at increasing insulin sensitivity. They also provide joint pain relief, hormone balance, and taste damn good.
6. Sleep more
The more sleep you get, the less cortisol you will produce throughout the day. If cortisol is high, insulin is high.
7. Eat more fiber
Fiber has endless benefits, but from a metabolism and insulin perspective it’s great. Fiber will slow down and sometimes blunt the insulin response of high carbohydrate foods. If you were eating a piece of cake and added 10 grams of psyllium to it, the insulin response would actually be a lot lower. 30 minutes before a high carb meal, take a fiber supplement.
*This post originally appeared on DougRatner.Com.