Learning to eat to increase your metabolism can be a long and complicated journey. At least, that's what I used to think. It turns out the solution might be a lot more simple than I previously thought.
I'll admit, I've tried a lot of the typical "tricks" to increase my metabolism. You've probably heard of them. Eat more protein. Drink tons of water. Fidget a lot. Hit the treadmill. Take hot baths. Eat a lot of cayenne pepper.
Some of these are founded in logic. Others are dead wrong. And some are just plain silly. And frankly, nothing seemed to make an immediate and noteworthy impact for me.
What was missing from my approach was a simple method of monitoring biofeedback and tweaking my diet accordingly. Incredibly simple. Surprisingly effective.
In my last post about how I got rid of my cold hands and feet, I brought up a few basic ideas about increasing your metabolic rate (which conveniently solves cold hands and feet, as well as quite a few other annoying issues associated with a low metabolism). But a few of my readers asked me for more specifics from Eat for Heat. So here I am to dish out some of the more juicy details...
How to Eat to Increase Your MetabolismThe basic idea in Eat for Heat can be summed up in this excellent quote from the book:
"When you are cold, especially in the hands and feet, your urine is clear, the urge to urinate is strong, or you are peeing frequently… YOU NEED TO EAT MORE AND DRINK LESS.
When you are hot, especially in the hands and feet, your urine is dark or you haven’t peed in a really long time… YOU NEED TO EAT LESS AND DRINK MORE."
So how did I solve my cold hands and feet in one day?
I cut back on my liquids (I was drinking a lot when I wasn't thirsty), and I chose foods that were dense in calories, salt and carbohydrates.
For me, this meant some snacks of cheese with honey or dried fruit or a few bites of my coconut oil fudge. I didn't have to overeat or even significantly change my normal eating habits (for instance, I ate a typical dinner that evening the same as I normally would). However, even with these minor changes, I noticed immediate signs of increasing my metabolism (i.e. toasty hands and feet!).
Although some specific eating strategies are mentioned in the book, Eat for Heat also advocates being flexible and individualizing the strategies according to your biofeedback. Personally, I just took the general idea and adapted it to what I typically eat and what is already in my kitchen. The fact that I could do this and still get phenomenal results is just plain awesome.
Are You Drinking Too Much to Increase Your Metabolism?If you're taking in too much fluid, you'll notice having to urinate with increased frequency (sometimes even every 20-30 minutes) and your urine will be super clear like water. Some health gurus claim this is a good thing, but I don't buy it. In fact, it could be a sign that you're losing excess salt and other electrolytes through your urine. This can really stress the body--not a good thing if you want to maintain metabolic balance.
After reading Eat for Heat, I realized that I often experience frequent trips to the bathroom at the same time of day my hands and feet start getting really cold! A very intriguing connection.
So how much fluid is enough?
As you might guess, it's all up to the individual. Your need for fluid is based on a lot of variable factors, like your current metabolic rate, the climate you live in, how active you are, etc. This is where all that biofeedback stuff comes in.
I've found it very helpful to pay attention to two things: 1) my level of thirst and 2) how warm I feel.
Interestingly, I feel more thirsty when I feel warm and my hands or feet are feeling toasty. The two definitely go hand in hand!
And instead of drowning my thirst in tons of clear water, I try a more subtle approach and drink just a few ounces of liquid at a time. Sometimes I choose plain water, but more often I go with diluted juice with a dash of salt to balance it out. In either case, I have about four fluid ounces at a time and simply drink more as needed. This gives my body time to take it in and give me that valuable biofeedback.
Warming and Cooling Foods: Achieving Metabolic BalanceAn important concept in Eat for Heat is that certain foods tend to warm up (increase) the metabolism and others tend to cool it down.
Warming foods are generally calorie-dense foods. They will normally contain more salt, sugar, carbohydrates and saturated fat (the good stuff of course!). Some examples would be cheese, real butter or cream, coconut products (like shredded coconut or coconut oil), grains, starchy vegetables (like potatoes), fatty meats (I'm thinking quality bacon would be excellent) and real desserts (like ice cream or homemade cheesecake--yum!).
Cooling foods have essentially the opposite qualities. They are less calorie-dense, and contain more liquid in ratio to salt, carbohydrates and fat. These might include water (and other weak beverages like coffee, tea and juice), fruit and vegetables. These foods are not inherently bad, of course. They just tend to promote a slower metabolic rate if used at the wrong time, rather than increase your metabolism like warmer foods.
The idea is not that you eat only warming foods and shun the cooling foods. Not at all. This is not another game of bad foods vs. good foods.
Instead, the idea is to pay attention to how your body reacts to specific foods at certain times. Yep, we're talking about good ole biofeedback again.
Here is an example:
If you tend to feel sluggish and cold in the mid-afternoon, then this is a good time to try out more warming foods and dial it down on the more cooling foods (probably not a good time to have a bottle of water, for instance).
Or perhaps if you're too warm in the evenings, that's a good time for light soups and beverages (like juice or kombucha), with some fruits and veggies as well.
For me, understanding the difference between warming and cooling foods has allowed me much greater control over my metabolic state throughout the day. By listening to my biofeedback, I am able to choose foods that keep me feeling balanced.
If you like this post, you can learn more by reading Matt Stone's eBook Eat for Heat.