Tip # 2: Boost your metabolism program
Welcome to the 2nd tip in the Boost your Metabolism program.
To assist with weight loss and/or to avoid weight gain, I'm presenting eight tips to gradually add healthy habits to your lifestyle. The tips may assist in increasing your metabolic rate – or how efficiently your body utilizes the food you eat.
These are skills for life, not just another quick, weight loss approach.
Originally I was posting a new tip every week on this blog. But I encourage you to follow each tip longer than a week, before moving on to the next one. Slower is smarter: it can eliminate the endless start/fail cycle! (Read this humorous article about that, when you have time.) Each of the eight tips will always be stored on this blog. You will be able to access them whenever you are ready to move on to the next tip. Incidentally, it’s best to follow the tips in their numerical order because I may occasionally refer back to past tips. Therefore, if you are visiting for the first time . . .
Please begin with the first tip here: Tip # 1.
But if you’re ready to move on to the second tip, here we go . . .
Tip # 2: Eat one or two vegetables at breakfast.
You don’t have to change what you currently eat as your breakfast meal, if you don’t want to. Even if you regularly eat one pound of bacon (although I hope not), all that’s required of you is to eat one or two vegetables with your usual “breakfast.” If you want to omit something to fit in this extra bit of food, that’s entirely up to you. Although, if you do, it’s a good idea to omit a poor-quality food choice.
Have a carrot, a celery stick, mini cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, or whatever vegetables appeal to you. Add the veggies to an omelet. Have any left-over vegetables from last night's meal. You can even have any frozen veggies currently stocked in your freezer: cook up a small amount (1/2 to one cup). And switch it up if you can. Try to avoid always having the same vegetable choice(s) every morning. Each vegetable has differing nutrients, so a wider variety of vegetables ensures you are getting a wider variety of nutrients. And that’s important for good health. Can’t think of lots of different kinds of veggies? Google “vegetables.” There are probably lots you’ve never even heard of or tried. Let this be a learning experience for you.
Are you into smoothies or juicing? Go ahead and add those extra veggies to your morning concoction, especially if you are pressed for time. But if you have the time, I encourage you to use the blender that nature built into your face: your mouth. Chew these veggies. Thoroughly chewing your food is the first step in the human digestive process (especially for carbohydrates like veggies). Chewing vs. drinking a food offers many other health benefits, like less of an insulin reaction and a longer-lasting satiety (fullness). And with the extra effort of chewing, there’s a tiny bit more of a metabolism boost than drinking the food.
Don’t eat breakfast? Don’t feel guilty. There’s no hard and fast rule or conclusive studies about eating breakfast. Although breakfast, like any meal, can boost your metabolic rate. But if you feel absolutely no hunger when you awake in the morning, respect what your body is telling you. The biggest concern with regular breakfast-skippers is they may end up overeating as the day progresses. However, there are also those who are hungrier all day long when they eat breakfast! We are all different. If you are a breakfast skipper who ends up overeating later in the day, experiment with eating your one or two vegetable choices shortly after you awake. Perhaps crunch on raw veggies on your way to work, or when you get there. You may develop a habit of eating breakfast, which can help curb your hunger later in the day. (NOTE: Breakfast-skippers are often people who eat their last meal very late in the evening, therefore they aren’t hungry upon awakening the next morning. Perhaps eating dinner/supper earlier is another “tip” you can practise in the future?). Otherwise, if you are a breakfast-skipper but overeating later isn’t a problem for you, then simply have your extra breakfast vegetable(s) during the first official meal of your day.
What about eating in a restaurant?
Order tomato slices with your breakfast. Or opt for an omelet with lots of veggies in it (like IHOP’s awesome egg-white vegetable omelet). And there’s nothing wrong with ordering a salad with your breakfast – perhaps as the meal itself, with a side of egg(s). For breakast, I sometimes order a plain salad with a poached egg on top of it. The soft yolk serves as my “salad dressing.”
Do you already eat veggies at breakfast, like spinach in your omelet? Good for you! But choose to participate anyway. Add one or two more veggies. You can never overdo vegetables! You can also use this tip to practise more variety in your vegetable choices. Switch it up frequently: Instead of spinach, have beet greens, chard, or kale in your omelet. For your green salads, there are several varieties of lettuce. And there are many colours and varieties of onions, like scallions, leeks, chives, and green onions. These are just a few examples of food variety. I pointed out earlier that each vegetable has different nutrients. Having a variety of them ensures you get a wide variety of nutrients – especially those not yet discovered!
Vegetables are low in 'calories,' low fat, low sugar, but high in fibre, and provide lots of nutrients. Few of us eat enough vegetables. And this could be one of the reasons for today’s widespread digestive disorders and poor gut health: vegetables are a huge factor in maintaining and encouraging healthy gut microbiota. This helps us absorb and produce nutrients. And this boosts our immune system and our health in general – including boosting our metabolism.
But why at breakfast?
Why not? Vegetables are actually an ideal way to start your day. When you are eating, the process of digestion increases your metabolism. Low-calorie, low-fat foods like veggies provide a big metabolism boost for little caloric investment. That’s why veggies are always encouraged in weight-loss diets. In addition, the low-sugar content of vegetables (as opposed to fruit or those sugar-filled breakfast cereals) help lower the risk of an early-morning insulin reaction that some people may experience. This helps avoid any crazy blood sugar consequences (like fatigue and cravings). Of course, adding one or two veggies probably won’t reduce this effect if you are eating a typical high-sugar breakfast! However, this metabolism-boosting program is also about offering ideas of new habits to try.
By the way, I’m not saying everyone has 'crazy' blood sugar reactions. And I’m also not advising to avoid eating fruit first thing in the morning. If you do so right now, don’t stop! Just add one or two veggies – because another purpose of this tip is to encourage the habit of eating more vegetables. Eating vegetables at an uncommon time for most people (at breakfast) may break the limiting “eat-only-this-at-this-meal” mindset and encourage eating more veggies at every meal. It may even inspire you to cut back on all the bacon I hope you aren’t eating every morning.
Another reason I chose vegetables over fruit in this tip, is many of you are probably already eating fruit at breakfast. I didn’t want to increase that for the possible blood-sugar reactions mentioned above. And for those already eating vegetables, having more shouldn’t affect insulin response: this is because vegetables – particularly “low carb” vegetables – have a much more balanced ratio of protein to carbs than fruit has.
As I’ve already mentioned, if you want to follow each tip longer than a week, go right ahead. All the tips will be stored on this blog. You can access them whenever you are ready to move on to the next one.
The purpose of this "program" is to encourage healthy habits. It is not intended for quick results. These are skills you can practise for life. Long term, permanent results are more important than quickly reaching a goal that you can't maintain for very long!
If you do not want to follow this tip, then don’t. Keep following the first challenge of the toothbrush squat as long as you need, to make it a permanent habit. There will be other "dietary" tips planned for this program. But I do encourage you to experiment with this dietary tip as well.
Have fun with this tip. Do it with family and friends. Share this with others who may be interested in a metabolism boost. And now . . . if you are ready to add some variety to your "squats," move on to Tip # 3.
Have a short question or comment about this particular tip? Feel free to e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eve Lees is a Certified Nutrition Coach, a former Certified Personal Trainer, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications. She has been active in the health & fitness industry for over 35 years.