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34 Kids Yoga Exercises That Boost Self Esteem (And Physical Flexibility)

34 Kids Yoga Exercises That Boost Self Esteem (And Physical Flexibility)

Kids these days face more challenges than any generation that came before.

Between cyber-bullying, the over-use of technology in general and things like STAAR testing, the amount of stress kids face is incredible.

Add to that a busier work schedule for parents that often has both parents working outside the home, and it’s no wonder kids may feel overwhelmed.

As we look for ways to boost their self-esteem, kids yoga is one of the most powerful activities you may not have thought of.

How yoga helps you and your kids

Yoga has been popular in our culture for decades now.

It can be done at home on your own or in a yoga studio. You can even pull up your favorite style of yoga on YouTube and follow along. Aside from maybe a yoga mat, no special equipment is needed.

Yoga is a great exercise for both reducing stress and centering and calming the mind. But it also builds core strength and balance.

Yoga comes from India and was created thousands of years ago.

In Sanskrit, yoga means “to unite”. In this case, the union is between the mind and the body or even the spirit and body.

While yoga is part of the Hindu religion it has been embraced by all cultures and religions across the world.

With its heavy focus on the breath, yoga is a great way to build coordination and flexibility while naturally helping with stress management.

Learn more about why you should do yoga here:

7 Reasons You Should Start Doing Yoga Immediately

Thus, finding ways to incorporate kids yoga into your child’s activity schedule is a great way to help them navigate the sometimes troubled waters of adolescence.

The self-esteem challenges kids face today

Kids today face incredible challenges.

Bullying, especially cyber-bullying on social media, has become rampant over the past decade. So finding ways to teach our kids how to overcome bullying is crucial.

But we also see our kids stressed and challenged by:

  • High parental and school expectations
  • Body image issues
  • Peer pressure

All of these can take their toll on our kid’s self-esteem. They can lead to depression, drug or alcohol abuse or even suicidal thoughts.

So as parents, we must find a way to help our kids.

Kids yoga is an easy way to help your child improve their self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.

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The proven benefits of kids yoga

The benefits of kids yoga are many, but a few of the top ones are:

  • Improve their body awareness
  • Improved stress management
  • Builds focus and concentration
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • Improved coordination and flexibility

In short, kids yoga is an easy way to get them moving and off electronic devices. It’s also a healthy weight management practice too. Of course there are other healthy exercises for kids too, so check them all out:

34 Best kids yoga exercises that your kids will love

At first your child may be resistant to yoga. After all if their friends or favorite YouTubers aren’t doing it, it’s not cool. So make a commitment with them. Get them to agree to trying it for a set period of time (ideally 2-4 weeks minimum).

Kids aren’t likely to just quietly do gentle yoga poses for an hour with meditational music in the background. So once you get that commitment, then it’s crucial to find ways to make it fun and keep them motivated.

If we want them to love yoga (and they will), we have to make it appealing to them. Remember this is about the end result, so whether your local yoga guru would approve isn’t relevant.

For these kids yoga poses, we’re using the common names in English rather than the traditional Sanskrit names. We’ve also adapted some of the poses to be done with the aid of a chair to make them easier for younger kids.

Easiest kids yoga poses to start with

These are some easy poses that are great for beginners or younger kids.

1. Bow Pose

    Have your child lie flat on their tummy with arms laying alongside their body with palms up. Have them bend the knees and bring the feet towards their head.[1]

    Take a deep breath and lift the chest, looking forward. Then have them reach their arms back and grab their ankles.

    2. Bridge Pose

      Have them lie on their back with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Knees should be hip width apart. Arms should be down alongside the body with palms facing down. Have their fingers touch the back of the heels.[2]

      Then tuck the chin into the chest, and as they breathe in, lift the bottom off the ground and press up.

      The most fun kids yoga games

      3. Yoga Pose Musical Dots

      Cut out circles on different colors of construction paper. Write the name of a different yoga pose on each circle. Play some fun music that your kids like.

      Then, as with musical chairs, have them walk slowly around the circle and then randomly stop the music. Instead of 1 person getting taken out of the game, the kids simply have to do the pose written on their circle.

      4. Yoga Pose Detective

      Call out different options (ie: “Show me a yoga pose with 1 foot on the ground”) and let the kid(s) choose from any of the yoga poses they know that match the description.

      Easiest kids yoga poses for improved coordination

      5. Mountain Pose

        Have your child stand with their feet at hip distance apart. Have them press their feet down into the ground to create a solid base. Stand up straight with arms at their sides. Have them turn the palms forward and spread the fingers wide. Keep a straight back as they lift from the crown of their head to the sky.[3]

        6. Chair Pose

          From a seated position, stand in Mountain Pose. Have them lift their arms up in front of them at about a 45 degree angle while looking at their hands. Then have them sink their posture as if they were going to sit, but have them not touch the seat.

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          The best kids yoga poses to calm the mind

          7. Lotus Pose

            Have them start by sitting on the floor with legs extended. Bend the right knee and bring the foot across to meet the left elbow. Place the right foot and the left elbow together while having the right knee meet the right elbow. Bring hands together in a prayer-type position. Have them lightly sway back and forth to open the hips.[4]

            8. Child’s Pose

              Sit back on the heels and lean forward with the arms stretched out in front and palms flat on the ground. Have them bring their forehead to the floor. Then they lay their chest on the thighs. Then bring the arms alongside the body.[5]

              Best yoga poses for building strength

              9. Boat Pose

                Have them sit with a tall back and the legs bent a little bit in front of them. Have them lean back a little and place their arms straight out in front. Then have them balance on their bottom, and raise the feet off the ground. Have them gently rock back and forth.[6]

                10. Dolphin Plank

                  Have them start in a push-up position and then bring the forearms to the ground. Place the elbows right under their shoulders. Gently lock the fingers together and make sure they keep their belly, hips and knees off the ground.

                  Top kids yoga poses for healthy weight management

                  11. Upward Facing Dog

                    Have them start by lying flat on the belly, with their hands under the shoulders and elbows tucked in. Ask them to press up off the floor leaving their lower body on the ground. Press up and stretch before resting back down.

                    12. Triangle Pose

                      From a standing position have them extend arms out and spread the legs wide. Turn left foot out and reach down with their left hand and grab their own left ankle. Extend the right arm straight up and press up. Repeat on the other side.[7]

                      The top animal poses (That kids will love to copy)

                      13. Cobra Pose (with a chair)

                        Have them sit at the very front of a chair. Ask them to open their chest, pressing the chest up and arching up slightly, bringing the shoulder blades towards each other. Hold on to the back of the chair seat and focus the gaze upwards.[8]

                        14. Cow Pose

                          Have your child sit at the front of a chair, with their feet flat on the ground. Ask them to place the palms of their hands on their knees. Focusing on the breath have them look up slightly, while arching their back, and opening the chest.[9]

                          The best poses for building outrageous flexibility

                          15. Downward Dog Pose

                            Stand in front of a chair, facing the chair. Have them place their hands on the front of the chair while slowly stepping back. Have their arms outstretched in front of them. Keep the back flat while ensuring the legs are hip-width apart. Their gaze should be down between the legs.[10]

                            16. Tree Pose

                              Stand behind a chair. Hold on to the back of the chair with one hand. Then have them shift their weight and balance on the leg closest to the chair. Bend the knee of the other leg and place the sole of that foot on the inner thigh or calf of the standing leg. While balancing, gently sway and focus on the breath.[11]

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                              The proven power of the breath in kids yoga

                              17. Lion’s Breath

                                This style of breathing is one of the most fun for kids yoga. With Lion’s Breath, kids inhale deeply through the nose. Then they lean their head back and open their mouth wide while exhaling loudly and sticking their tongue out.[12]

                                18. Breath of Fire

                                  Used in Bikram yoga, this style of breathing is great for warming up the abs. Practice the Breath of Fire by having the kids sit tall. Then ask them to inhale gently through the nose. As they breathe in, they begin to exhale out through the nose rapidly while sucking in their stomach in quick succession.[13]

                                  Best kids yoga poses for kids with autism

                                  19. Warrior I Pose

                                    The warrior poses are done in a deep lunge stance. For warrior 1, have your child stretch their arms straight up while pressing the chest gently out and up.[14]

                                    20. Cat-Cow Stretch

                                      Have your child place both hands on the ground and rest on the knees. Alternate between arching the back up while pressing the head down (cat) and gently arching the back in while pressing the head and shoulders up to the sky (cow). Animal noises are encouraged![15]

                                      Great yoga poses for improving self-regulation

                                      21. Alternate Nostril Breathing

                                        Have your child sit comfortably with legs crossed. Have them breathe in normally and exhale through the nose. Have them press the right side of the nose closed and breathe in through the left nostril. Pause. Release the right side of the nose and press the left side shut. Exhale through the right nostril. Repeat in reverse order.[16]

                                        22. Warrior II Pose

                                          Start in a deep lunge stance. The foot of the leg in front should be facing forward. The other foot should be at about a 45 degree angle. Extend both arms in opposite directions with following the legs on the same side. Arms should be parallel to the ground with palms facing down.[17]

                                          Awesome yoga poses for active kids

                                          23. Waterfall Pose

                                            Have your child lie on their back with feet flat on the floor. Have the knees bent. Press down into the feet and lift the hips up. Place their hands, palms down, under their bottom. Alternately you can place a soft block or pillow there. Slowly raise both legs up pointing to the ceiling, similar to a leg raise.[18]

                                            24. Flying Eagle Pose

                                              Start by having your child do Mountain pose (listed above). As they come out of that pose, they extend their arms like an eagle flying. Then, slowly raise one leg up behind them and gently bend forward at the waist.[19]

                                              Poses to help kids connect their emotions and their body

                                              25. Roadrunner

                                                A variation of the high lunge. From standing, bend at the waist and place both hands on the ground. Take a big step back with the left leg. Hands remain flat on the ground on either side of the right leg. Hold for 4 seconds and repeat on the other side.[20]

                                                26. Upward Salute

                                                  Start by having your child do Mountain pose (listed above). Have them raise their arms out sideways and point the fingers straight up to the sky. Palms face one another and the arms should remain in parallel.[21]

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                                                  The best kids yoga poses done with their favorite songs

                                                  27. Plow Pose

                                                    yoga poses plow Fresh Yoga Poses Help To Better Sleep

                                                    Have them lie down on the floor on their back while bringing the knees into the chest. Lay the arms along their sides, with your palms pressing down. As they exhale have them swing their legs up over their head. They should stretch the toes as far back over their head as they can get them.[22]

                                                    28. See-Saw

                                                      A partner pose done with 2 kids. Have the kids sit across from one another with legs out in front of them in a V shape and a straight back. Holding hands, have them gently rock back and forth in time to the music.[23]

                                                      Confidence building kids yoga poses

                                                      29. Supine Butterfly

                                                        Have them lay flat on their back with knees bent. Let the knees fall gently to each side while the feet press into each other. Have their arms extend out away from the body at a 45 degree angle going down away from the head, with palms facing up.[24]

                                                        30. Warrior III

                                                          Have them stand with feet together. Have the hands extend over their head with palms together. Slowly bend at the waist and lean forward. As they lean forward they should raise one leg back, ending with standing on one leg with arms flat in front and 1 leg flat extending back.[25]

                                                          Kids yoga poses that look like cool martial arts moves

                                                          31. Side Blade Kick

                                                            From standing, have them kick out with one leg. Rotate the leg and hip so that the toes are angled down slightly and the foot is horizontal. Raise the arm on the same side as the kicking leg, bending at the elbow so the top of the arm is parallel with the kicking leg and the upper arm is pointed straight up making a fist. Bring the other arm across the torso pointing towards the extended leg and make a fist with that hand also.[26]

                                                            32. Cobra Pose

                                                              Have them lay down on the belly with their legs extended flat on the ground. Place the hands on the floor just under the shoulders with palms facing down. Have them press the tops of the feet and legs into the floor. While inhaling, have them press down into the floor with the hands while slowly raising the upper part of their body up. Hold for several breathes while gazing forward.[27]

                                                              Next level poses for more advanced kids

                                                              33. Dancer Pose

                                                                Start this one from Mountain pose too (listed above). On the inhale, their weight shifts back to the right foot. Have them lift the left leg towards their bottom on the left side and bend the knees. Point the toes to the sky. Hold the left ankle with the left hand while the right arm extends forward at a 45 degree angle.[28]

                                                                34. Wild Thing

                                                                  Start from a downward facing dog pose (listed above). Raise the right leg high in the air. Then have them bend the right knee and point the right foot towards their left hip. As they press that foot down, they will naturally rotate and end up with their body facing up instead of down. Have them plant the right leg on the ground and reach out with the right arm, extending past the head.[29]

                                                                  How kids yoga can reshape your child’s self-image

                                                                  In this post, we looked at what yoga is and some of the best kids yoga poses. But we also took a look at some of the things that add stress to our kid’s lives and how kids yoga can help overcome them.

                                                                  We know that kids face more challenges and different challenges than any generation that came before.

                                                                  Thus it’s crucial that we, as parents, find ways to help our children find healthy outlets and activities. We have to provide the much needed guidance to set them up for success in physical and mental health but also for life in general.

                                                                  Kids yoga is an easy activity to incorporate into your kid’s life that can help boost self-esteem. It can also help develop them mentally, physically and emotionally.

                                                                  With the low costs involved, it’s literally something every parent could introduce their child to, and your child can start seeing the benefits right away.

                                                                  Featured photo credit: Rainbow Yoga via rainbowyogatraining.com

                                                                  Reference

                                                                  [1] Yoga for Beginner: Best Of Yoga Pose Bow
                                                                  [2] Yoga Journal: Bridge Pose
                                                                  [3] Niyanthree Ayurveda: Mountain Pose
                                                                  [4] Yoga Journal: Avoiding Ankle Injuries in Lotus Pose
                                                                  [5] Yoga with MahesHwari: Balasana ~ Child’s Pose
                                                                  [6] Well and Good: THESE YOGA POSES COULD HELP HEAL YOUR ACNE (YES, REALLY)
                                                                  [7] Yoganatomy: Exploring Triangle and Revolved Triangle Pose
                                                                  [8] Ms Unites: Rutgers University Yoga Study
                                                                  [9] HealthifyMe: Seated Cow and Cat Stretch
                                                                  [10] Yoga Journal: A Prenatal Chair Sequence to Ease the Discomfort of Pregnancy
                                                                  [11] ACE: 7 Chair Yoga Poses for Better Balance
                                                                  [12] Banyan: Yoga Pose: Lion Pose
                                                                  [13] Women Fitness: Breath of Fire: Cleansing The System
                                                                  [14] Yokala: Warrior I Pose – How to Perform and Benefits
                                                                  [15] Workout Trends: Yoga Poses Cat cow Back Stretch Pose
                                                                  [16] The Chalkboard: Simplest Health Tip Ever: Why You Should Try Alternate Nostril Breathing
                                                                  [17] Pop Sugar: Strike a Yoga Pose: Warrior 2
                                                                  [18] Top Health Remedies: 5 Effective Yoga Poses For Relaxing Body And Mind
                                                                  [19] DoYogaWithMe: Yoga: Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
                                                                  [20] SportGymYoga: Tween Yoga Sequence
                                                                  [21] Home Remedies & Yoga Mudras: Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
                                                                  [22] Ideas for Yoga at Home: Fresh Yoga Poses Plow
                                                                  [23] Adventures of a Yoga Mom: Warrior Friends
                                                                  [24] The Book Belly: Supine Butterfly
                                                                  [25] Yoga Journal: Strong Spirit: 5 Steps to Warrior III
                                                                  [26] Yoga Journal: Kathryn Budig: Yoga + Martial Arts = Perfect Match
                                                                  [27] Yoga Journal: Practice Safe Stretch in Cobra
                                                                  [28] Howcase: How to do a dancer’s pose
                                                                  [29] EatPureLove: Instant Happiness Met De Wild Thing Yoga Pose

                                                                  More by this author

                                                                  Jeff Campbell

                                                                  A husband and father trying to help other dads and moms navigate through the worlds of mindfulness, health, parenting, marriage/relationships& more.

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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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