by author Brad King, MS, MFS
Over the past two decades, many of us have bought into the idea that carbohydrates give us energy, fat makes us fat, and protein–in excess–causes kidney damage. If the matter were this simple, we would have reduced the incidence of obesity long ago. The truth is, it’s not this easy.
When it comes to the way you look, feel, and perform, the foods and nutrients you choose to fuel your metabolism can make all the difference in your life potential. Let’s take a closer look at the three macronutrients–carbs, fats, and protein–to see how the right choices from each group can supercharge your metabolism.
The first rule of metabolic success is to avoid refined carbohydrates at all costs. Instead of consuming fibre-rich carbohydrates like organic fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, North Americans often substitute these foods with overly processed white- and cornmeal-based flours. Yet all these carbs do (along with all processed sugars) is generate a hyper state of insulin release. Whenever we overly stimulate insulin, the body goes into a primary fat storage mode, all the while making it next to impossible for our metabolic system to use fat for energy. The key is to limit these high-glycemic carbs and increase levels of high-fibre and high-antioxidant carbs, which research has shown can lower insulin and enhance our metabolism’s ability to burn fat.
Not all fats make us fat. Research indicates that the right fats can actually enhance our ability to use fat for energy. These fats–called omega-3 fatty acids and found primarily in wild fish oils–are believed to exert their metabolism enhancing effects by blocking inflammatory messages produced by our fat cells. Researchers from the University of Texas have discovered that fat cells produce a number of inflammation-related molecules, as well as the hormone resistin, which are associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes (two conditions linked to obesity). Essential fats can help control these metabolism-destroying molecules.
When looking to maintain or enhance your overall metabolism, the right proteins can make all the difference. Protein offers you the unique advantage of being the most thermogenically active of the three macronutrients. Thermogenesis is a fancy word for “more heat,” and the more thermogenic a food is, the easier it is for your body to burn fat. Aside from this, protein stimulates the hormone glucagon, which enhances levels of a metabolic enzyme called hormone-sensitive lipase, which allows for continual fat release and energy production.
Along with regular exercise, choosing the best food sources of all three macronutrients is a simple way to fuel your metabolism and supercharge your life potential.
- Metabolic carbs include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, celery, peppers, all leafy greens such as kale and chard, all berries, grapefruit, oranges, kiwis, and organic whole grains.
- Metabolic fats include wild fish oil, flaxseed oil, hemp oil, most seeds and nuts (in moderation), and extra virgin olive oil.
- Metabolic proteins include high-alpha whey isolates, game meat and grass-fed beef, free-run poultry, organic eggs, and hemp protein.