You Need to Factor in Appetite and Metabolism
Metabolism determines how efficiently we’re burning calories and appetite determines how satisfied they make us. There are ways to increase the former and decrease the latter, which will make it a lot easier to maintain a healthy weight.
When it comes to maintaining your weight and staying fit, you want to look at how many calories you’re taking in every day and also how many calories you’re burning off. It sounds simple, right? But it’s a lot harder than simple addition and subtraction.
If you look at restaurants, they’ll post calorie counts. That can help. There are apps out there that will help you do that as well. There are also devices that will look at how many calories you’re burning throughout the day, like the FitBit, for example.
But it’s actually a lot more complicated than simply looking at those calories. There are two big influencers that affect that — metabolism looks at how efficiently you’re burning those calories throughout the day, and also your appetite, which looks at how satisfied those calories are making you.
So there’s the goal — you want to increase your metabolism, decrease your appetite, and I’m going to give you some tips on how to do so. And I promise you, some of these are not that obvious.
For example, don’t be tempted to skip breakfast. Sure, you’ve cut some calories, but you’ve also cut your metabolism.
Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, Cleveland Clinic:
After a night’s sleep when your body is burning calories and working hard to keep you alive while you sleep, you need to fuel it the next day. You need to break that fast.
Skip breakfast, and your body can go into a sort of starvation mode.
Your body essentially says, OK I don’t have the fuel I need to function, so I’m going to have to lower the metabolism a little bit to survive.
Lower metabolism means your next meal will not be burned off as fast. And what you eat for breakfast is also important, especially when it comes to that other factor — appetite. Try to start the day with protein — things like yogurt, eggs, or egg whites if you want to avoid cholesterol. Protein will make you feel full longer.
So what about sweets? Not all sugars are created equal. Researchers at Yale compared the two simple sugars that make up table sugar, also known as sucrose. They are glucose and fructose. Now, fructose is also found in fruit, but we’re getting a lot more of it these days in high-fructose corn syrup as well as processed foods.
The researchers found that fructose is not as good as glucose at making us feel full. So when foods are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup as opposed to sugar, we may tend to eat more of them. There is some evidence that even artificial sweeteners with no calories at all may still boost the appetite, and contribute to weight gain indirectly.
When it comes to carbs, the harder they are to digest the better. That boosts metabolism. So whole wheat is better than white, and beans may be the best of all.
Beans have something called resistant starch, which is starch that is a little more difficult for our body to digest. The more difficult it is for our body to digest something, the more energy it’s going to take to actually do that.
Finally, adding spice to your life may also boost your metabolism. There is some evidence that a chemical in black pepper prevents fat cells from forming.
Reduce your appetite, increase your metabolism, and you’ll find keeping that nutritional balance is a lot easier.
With Everyday Health, I’m Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Be well.