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15 Classic Movies That Are Based On Real Stories

15 Classic Movies That Are Based On Real Stories

For years, movies based on real stories have been dominating cinemas and award shows. Some are true masterpieces, and some… were rather of a disappointment. Here are just a few of the many great movies out there that are true classics that always catch our hearts. Whether it’s to warm our hearts or make us go through an emotional ride.

1. The Pianist (2002)

“I don’t know how to thank you” “Thank God, not me. He wants us to survive. Well, that’s what we have to believe.”

One powerful story that was brilliantly done is The Pianist. A film about a Polish Jew named Wladyslaw Szpilman, set in the 1930s during the Second World War. He was living in the ghettos and had everything taken away from him. He was doing everything in his power to stay alive and to stay as low as possible. However, Szpilman was one of the greatest piano players during that time.

Watching Szpilman having to go through all this grim and terror, we, as the audience, feel sympathy and a sense of emotional connection to the character. This is a film you won’t forget, nor would want to. It will make you feel like you’re there and then cherish the freedom you have. Roman Polanski (the director) and Adrien Brody (plays Wladyslaw Szpilman) truly made this movie a cinematic masterpiece.

2. United 93 (2006)

“Come one, guys, what are we waiting for? Let’s roll. Come on, let’s go already.”

United 93 is based on the powerful true story about the attacks that occurred on the 11th of September 2001 where four passenger airlines were hijacked by terrorists. The focus of the story is centred on United Airlines Flight 93, which violently crashed after the passengers and crew fought off the terrorists who highjacked the plane to gain back control over the aircraft. While United Airlines Flight 93 was being highjacked, two of the passenger airlines had crashed into the World Trade Center, and the third passenger airline was minutes away from striking the Pentagon.

This is one of those emotional and powerful films that will forever affect an audience. And it was purely genuine, no propaganda was made. The cast acted out the scenes perfectly, from being scared that their plane was being hijacked to reacting spontaneously to fight back the terrorists. It’s one of those movies you can’t help but get emotional over what the passengers had to go through and how they fought for their survival.

3. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

“I apologise for my appearance. But I have had a difficult time these past several years.”

12 Years a Slave tells the incredible true story of Solomon Northup – a free and educated black man living in upstate New York who was abducted and sold into slavery in the 1840s. Solomon Northup or also known as “Platt” (a nickname given to him) had to fight for his survival and freedom for 12 years as a slave.

This is one of those powerful films that heightens the entire audience on an emotional level. However it wasn’t just Solomon’s story that left us with a scar, but it was Patsey’s story as well. Patsey was a slave living a type of hell on earth. She was forced to tolerate the affection given to her by Edwyn Epps, a slave owner, and the jealousy of his wife that lead to gruesome outcomes for Patsey. However, unlike Solomon, Patsey had this innocence about her that even just looking at her could bring you to tears.

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Steve McQueen, the director, truly portrayed slavery in the 1840s. We, as the audience, are confronted with the true reality of slavery like it hasn’t been shown before.

4. Apollo 13

“Gentlemen, it’s been a privilege flying with you.”

“Houston, we have a problem” – a movie that delivered one of the greatest quotes of all time. Apollo 13 is based on the true story of the third intended manned mission to land on the moon. A story about how NASA developed a strategy to bring Apollo 13 safely back to earth after the spacecraft endured internal damage that threatened the lives of three of their astronauts.

The movie portrays what the astronauts had to undergo to fight for their survival and how humanity was brought together to bring back their astronauts, to save their lives. Everyone put all their differences aside to bring back these three astronauts, and it shows that people everywhere can bring greatness to this world. And even if you couldn’t do anything, people prayed for their survival. It gave everyone a sense of hope.

5. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

“You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”

The Pursuit of Happyness is based on the touching true story of Christopher Gardner, a struggling salesman who loses everything after one of his inventions fails in the markets. He is then forced to live out on the streets with his son. It’s one of those inspirational movies that are not at all tasteless. It has humour at parts and twists too. So it’s one of those sad and heartwarming films. Be ready to feel every emotion a human can feel – you will appreciate life more because the film truly shares the struggles of everyday life.

6. Argo (2012)

“You really believe your little story’s gonna make a difference when there’s a gun to our heads?” “I think my story’s the only thing between you and a gun to your head.”

In 1979, the American embassy in Iran was invaded by the people involved in the Iranian Revolution – during the American hostage crisis. There were several Americans taken hostage. However, there were six that managed to escape. The CIA was ordered to get them back to the United States of America safely, therefore, their plan was to send in a CIA agent to play undercover as a Hollywood producer to rescue these six Americans.

A movie with plenty of unexpected twists, it will leave the audience at the edge of their seat. It will make you care for their safe returns as if it was happening today. Though there are a lot of bad reviews towards this film, the Iranian Revolution is an interesting topic to research on, and this just brings in more twists and turns that occurred during that time. It’s an important piece that fits in with the history of Iran. The movie shares somewhat of an untold story to the audience.

7. Lone Survivor (2013)

“There ain’t nothing I can’t do. No sky too high, no sea too rough, no muff too tough.”

Marcus Lutrell, a NAVY Seal, and his team are on a mission to capture Taliban leader, Ahmad Shah, dead or alive. After being spotted by some locals, Lutrell and his team decided not to kill them. However, luck was not on their side when the spotted locals alerted a group of Taliban fighters. A gruesome battle occurs where the NAVY seals find themselves outmatched.

Lone Survivor is based on a heroic true story, and it stars the real Marcus Lutrell. No matter what people say about American war stories, this is one that will surprise you. You will have that emotional connection with the characters and feel the overwhelming sadness when they are hurt. I should warn you that this film is extremely violent and gruesome. But the violence showed in this movie is in its pure form. Therefore, the viewer should be prepared for this emotional ride.

8. Everest (2015)

“Human beings simply aren’t built to function at the cruising altitudes of a seven-forty-seven”, “Our bodies will be literally dying.”

Everest tells the story of a climbing expedition on Mt. Everest that goes horribly wrong due to an unexpected snowstorm. A movie filled with facts and the real stories of what happened to the climbers. It was brilliantly done and cinematically beautiful. Filled with intensity, it will leave viewers feeling emotional and moved. When I watched it, my jaw dropped the whole way through, and I was just hoping for each climber to survive and when someone died I could feel my heart break a little. It really got me to connect with the characters and feel what they’re feeling. A truly gripping film you won’t regret watching.

9. The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015)

“Would you rather be a prison guard or a prisoner?”

The Stanford Prison Experiment is based on the real-life experiment that was conducted in 1971 by Dr. Philip Zimbardo, where he brought together 24 male students who volunteered themselves to participate in this experiment to take on assigned roles as guards and prisoners in a simulated prison.

This is an incredibly powerful and moving movie. A movie filled with twists and drama. There is so much truth in this movie. It shows what a human is capable of and how we don’t question authority – even if it’s fake authority. The viewers will feel anxious and like their sitting on pins and needles.

It’s truly a grim thought that a human, a young adult, a student, could do such things. One of the guards even explained to one of the prisoners that he acted in such a cruel way because he was conducting his own experiment – to see if anyone would question authority. It seemed like some of the guards were influenced by this, and they got drunk with power.

10. In the Heart of the Sea (2015)

“We were headed for the edge of sanity… like we were aberrations, phantoms. Trust gave way to doubt. Hope to superstition.”

I’m sure everyone would think that this movie is based on the novel “Moby Dick”, but actually, it is based on a true story that inspired Herman Melville’s novel. The movie is based on the true event on the New England whaling ship when it encountered a great whale.

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Firstly, the cinematography is beyond beautiful and would leave the viewers mesmerised by its beauty. Secondly, the acting was beyond brilliant. The whole cast showed their true colours while filming this, and everyone fit their role perfectly. One of those films where you wouldn’t believe your eyes thinking that this actually happened. It’s a very emotional film and beautiful as it is. A movie you should watch on the big screen, however if you’ve missed your chance it’s worth investing in a blu ray to fully experience the movie.

11. Zodiac (2007)

“I… I need to know who he is. I… I need to stand there, I need to look him in the eye and I need to know that it’s him.”

Zodiac is based on Robert Graysmith’s book that focuses on the detectives and newspaper employees that were obsessed with a killer. Robert Graysmith, a San Francisco cartoonist, becomes an amateur detective to track down the Zodiac killer, who is still unidentified, as the killer sends letters and cryptic messages to the police. The movie was truly brilliant in a way that the characters looked exactly like the original people, and the facts stated in the movie were almost all on point.

The movie was as well very smart and not at all what you’d expect, due to the arguments being made by the police and newspaper employees on the possible identity of the Zodiac. With no surprise, every David Fincher film is filled with twists – therefore, with a movie like this drama happens when the audience learns something new. This is one of the most excellent films out there, and it will make you want to research more on the story.

12. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

“The real question is this: was all this legal? Absolutely f***ing not. But we were making more money than we knew what to do with.

The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the true-story of Jordan Belfort, a real-life stockbroker who made millions by selling cheap stocks to regular people. Living the high life, Jordan Belfort then falls drastically involving drugs, sex, and numerous other crimes. The movie is highly entertaining, but it’s a story about an addiction. An addiction to power.

The directing and editing is profoundly brilliant. It has many quick cuts to let the audience feel what the character is feeling. It’s made to seem like it is some kind of gangster/mafia movie but it’s more of a white-collar crime movie. The movie will, at times, make you feel uncomfortable by how far these kinds of people are willing to go to achieve such power.

And there are people like this out there today. To know that they know that what they are doing is illegal and still doing it is such a disturbing thought. Suckering thousands out there. I’m sure everyone out there has been caught in some kind of scam someway or another, and it’s honestly so worrying that this is still a recurring issue.

13. Into the Wild (2007)

“Some people feel like they don’t deserve love. They walk away quietly into empty spaces, trying to close the gaps of the past.”

A real-life story of someone who has a passion to move on from his or her difficulties made in the past and to travel to fully enjoy life. Based on Christopher McCandless, a recent graduate who gives away all his possessions and savings to hitchhike to Alaska. During that time, he faces a number of characters that change his life.

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A real inspirational film which will bring the audience to tears because of how real and genuine it is. Everyone has an element of Christopher McCandless in him or her, or you’ve encountered some of the characters that Christopher meets; nonetheless you’ll feel drawn to him throughout the whole movie – feeling a bond or connection towards Christopher.

14. The Conjuring (2013)

 “Want to play a game of hide and clap?”

The Conjuring is based on the real case files from the Warrens (Ed and Lorraine Warren). They investigated a farmhouse in Rhode Island that was recently bought by the Perron family. The Perron family experienced paranormal happenings as soon as they moved in. This movie deserves the R-rating it was given though it’s based on the scares alone as there was no sex, gore, or even swearing in this movie.

A movie that focuses on the story alone like this is one of the brilliant ones. It leaves you with goosebumps, and the building of suspense is something you don’t want to leave out. The fact that a family actually went through this is unbelievably terrifying.

There are a lot of controversies when it comes to horror films that are based on true stories. However, in the case of the Conjuring, the real-life Perron family was heavily included in the behind the scenes of the film; they made sure that everything portrayed in the movie reflects what exactly happened back in 1971 when they moved in.

15. Bronson (2008)

“You don’t want to be trapped inside with me sunshine. Inside, I’m somebody nobody wants to f*** with, do you understand? I am Charlie Bronson, I am Britain’s most violent prisoner.”

Bronson is based on the story of a hotheaded man named Michael Peterson who wants to make a name for himself, and so with that, he attempts to rob a post office. He was then sentenced to seven years behind bars; however, he was behind bars for 34 years, 30 of which he was in solitary confinement. During this time, his alter ego, “Charles Bronson”, took a leading role in his life story.

This is another movie that will make the audience want to research deeper. This is one of those movies where you might walk in not knowing a full story of what it may be about and, therefore, assuming a lot, but when you leave, you will realise how wrong you truly are. A brilliant film made with excellent directing and a masterpiece of a performance from Tom Hardy.

More by this author

NOORMARINA ANWAR

Student, Monash University

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

Shocked? Well, I was too.

The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

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Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

Your metabolism is like your bank account.

To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

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What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

That’s exactly how your body reasons:

More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

Foods That Increase Metabolism

Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

  • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
    When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
  • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
  • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
  • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

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  1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
  2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
  3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

Sugars and Carbs

Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Dried fruit
  • Commercial and packaged corn
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • All sorts of candies and lookalike
  • Packaged fruit juices and purees
  • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
  • Bread and flour-based products
  • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
  • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
  • Potatoes and potato starch products
  • Oatmeals and other grains
Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
  • All berries except strawberries
  • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White rice
  • All green vegetables

Fats

Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
  • Lard
  • Gmo oils
  • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
  • Nuts
  • Meat fat
  • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
  • Seeds
Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
  • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter (organic)
  • Egg yolks (free-range)
  • Bone marrow

The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

Proteins

Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

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Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
  • Cheap whey proteins
  • Soy proteins
  • GMO meat
  • GMO eggs
  • Packaged meat
Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned fish
  • Canned meat
  • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
  • Farmed fish
Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
  • Free-range meat
  • Free-range eggs
  • Wild meat and fish
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

Other Foods and Supplements

Cold water

Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

MCT Oils or Powders

Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

Caffeine

Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

Green Tea

Green tea

is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

Bottom Line

In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

Reference

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