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20 Body Hacks That Will Make Your Life Better

20 Body Hacks That Will Make Your Life Better

1. Condition Yourself to Fall Asleep Quickly

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    Stop hanging out and watching TV in your bed! When you wake up in the morning, get out of bed immediately and don’t go back to bed until you are ready to go to sleep. This will help you to subconsciously associate your bed with sleeping and, over time, it will help you to fall asleep more quickly when you hit the pillow.

    2. Prevent or Force a Sneeze

    To prevent sneezing at an inopportune time, with your mouth closed, try pressing your tongue firmly against the back of your teeth to help prevent your sneeze. While preventing a sneeze is great, there is nothing more annoying than a sneeze that you can feel as a tickle in the back of your throat but never actually initiates. To force a sneeze, try staring up into a bright light.

    3. Stop “Brain Freeze” Fast

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      Brain freeze, the intense pain that we experience after eating very cold foods, is a nerve response to cold food touching the soft palette toward the back of the mouth, especially when that cold food is eaten rapidly. To stop the sensation of brain freeze, try warming up that soft palette with your tongue by pushing it up, flat against the roof of your mouth.

      4. Prevent Acid Reflux

      While there are a number of potential reasons for acid reflux, one very preventable cause is sleeping on your right side. When you lay on your right side, your stomach is higher than your esophagus, which allows gravity to cause acid reflux. Try sleeping on your left side to reduce night time discomfort.

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      5. Hold Your Breath Longer

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        You can hold your breath a bit longer if you hyperventilate first. By taking several short breaths in quick succession, you trick your body into thinking it has a larger oxygen supply giving you more time before your brain starts freaking out.

        6. Remember Data and Solve Problems in Your Sleep

        Research shows that most memory consolidation happens when your mind is in a resting state and as such, reviewing raw material or the details of a complicated problem before going to bed can help you to better remember the data or even devise a solution to the problem.

        7. Improve Your Hearing

        Having trouble hearing a conversation in a crowded place? Lean in with your right ear, it is better at picking up the rhythms of speech. Can’t tell what song is playing softly in the supermarket? Let your left ear do the work, it is better at picking up musical tones.

        8. Reduce Toothache Pain

        Holding an ice cube firmly on the v-shaped area between your thumb and index finger on the back of your hand can reduce toothache pain by around 50% according to one Canadian study.

        9. Reduce Side Pain when Running

        Most people, when running, tend to exhale when their right foot strikes the ground, which actually puts pressure on the liver and causes the dreaded “side stitch” in many runners. Try simply training yourself to exhale when your left foot strikes the ground and take the pressure off your poor liver… which probably takes enough abuse as it is.

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        10. Improve Your Long Distance Vision

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          One potential cause for nearsightedness is what optometrists call near point stress that occurs from staring for hours on end at an up close item like your computer’s monitor. One way to combat this and improve your long distance vision after sitting at your desk all day is to periodically close your eyes, take a deep breath and flex your major muscle groups. Doing this will help the involuntary muscles in your eyes to relax.

          11. Wake a Sleeping Limb

          To revive an arm that has fallen asleep, try rocking your head from side to side, which will reduce tension in your neck and help to ease the pins and needles sensation in your arm. For a leg that has fallen asleep, walking around a bit is still your best option.

          12. Scratch The Itch in Your Throat

          Few things are more frustrating than an itch that lies right outside your grasp and cannot be scratched. Instead of reaching your hand down your throat, try scratching your ear. When the nerves of the ear are stimulated, muscles in the throat spasm, which often relieves the itch in your throat.

          13. Hold Back Tears

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            To avoid publicly weeping, hold your eyes open without blinking and you can usually hold back the tears. If you have already starting to cry, try looking upward without tilting your head to stop up the waterworks.

            14. Clear Your Sinuses

            Alternate thrusting your tongue against the roof of your mouth and pressing firmly with your finger on the space between your eyebrows (note, if you don’t have a gap between your eyebrows, rethink your grooming routine) which moves the vomer bone back and forth, aiding the sinus passages to clear.

            15. Avoid Blisters When You Burn Your Fingers

            Typically, if you touch something hot, the initial reaction is to reach for some ice, and while that may ease your pain quickly, that’s not necessarily what’s best for your skin as you are going from one temperature extreme to another. Try cleaning the affected area and applying pressure against the palm of your uninjured hand to prevent the burn from turning into a blister.

            16. Prevent a Yawn

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              If you are about to yawn, try touching the tip of your tongue just as your mouth opens to stop this embarrassing display dead in its tracks.

              17. Get Rid of the Hiccups

              There are a million and one home remedies for the hiccups and we all have our personal method of choice, but if you ever find that your go-to technique just isn’t cutting it, give this a shot: hold a breath as long as possible and when you just can’t hold it any longer, exhale as slowly as you can.

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              18. Suppress your Gag Reflex

              The next time you feel the urge to gag, try gripping your thumb firmly within your closed fist to help suppress your gag reflex.

              19. Increase your Memory with Cinnamon

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                Cinnamon is taken by many as a supplement to aid in weight loss, but did you know that just smelling cinnamon can improve both your memory and cognition. Try keeping a few cinnamon sticks in a cotton sachet by your desk and take a deep whiff whenever you need a quick mental pick-me-up.

                20. Keep yourself Awake (without caffeine)

                Before you guzzle that Red Bull or force down another cup of coffee, consider a natural way to keep yourself awake, blue light. Scientists have found that blue light keeps people awake more so than any other color.

                Featured photo credit: Model Man at Central Market, Austin via flic.kr

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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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