No matter how healthy you eat or how many hours of training you devote to achieve your weight goals, if something is off with your metabolism there’s no way that you’ll be able to get the body that you want.

Mastering your metabolism is a very complex process. It’s not just the genetics, lifestyle and fitness, but also how hormones and other chemicals factor into the metabolism machinery to work at its best.

Jade Teta from the Naturopathic Health Clinic of North Carolina and author of the book "New Me Diet", is an expert on managing the key hormones that will help you get rid of cravings to burn fat faster and more efficiently.

A team workout!

There are at least eight hormones and neurotransmitters that are mostly affected by how we eat, workout, rest and manage stress. So, the art here is to have them all synchronized. If just one of them are out of whack, it can hurt your metabolism’s performance.

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1. Thyroid hormone

Why? It’s one of the key fat-burning gas pedals. It responds to signals from other hormones to weather burn or store fat.

What to eat? Minerals such as iodine, zinc and selenium and the amino acid tyrosine are necessary to keep the thyroid normal. Include in your diet more pumpkin seeds and nuts for zinc and Brazil nuts for Selenium. Avocados, almonds and pumpkin seeds are all good sources to get tyrosine in the diet.

How to exercise? Intense exercise can increase thyroid production for a short period of time.

2. Cortisol

Why? This hormone will adapt to either burn or store fat. It all depends on what you do when the levels go up.

What to eat? Eat protein frequently and at every meal to keep sugar in balance. Sleep well and laugh to relax.

How to exercise? If you exercise when you are stressed, especially high-intensity interval training, the growth hormone and testosterone will pair with Cortisol for a great fat burning experience. However, if you get stressed and do nothing, Cortisol will promote the release of sugars which will make insulin to storage it as fat.

3. Insulin

Why? It resembles Cortisol behavior in the sense that if Insulin is attached to Cortisol, it will encourage fat storage. If it gets together with growth hormone and testosterone, it will create the opposite effect.

What to eat? It’s critical that you find the balance of carb intake in your diet, which basically should come from vegetables, whole grains and some fruits. Chromium from meats, onions, tomatoes, oysters and whole grains, along with asparagus for alpho-lipolic acid and bulgur and oat bran for magnesium will aid to keep the insulin under control.

How to exercise? Lift weights! The more body mass that you have, the better response to glucose and insulin sensitivity that the muscles will have. Studies show that resistance exercise along with endurance exercise works better than endurance alone. Aim from 115 minutes to 170 minutes of weekly exercise.

4 & 5.  Serotonin and Dopamine

Why? Serotonin is a relaxing neurotransmitter. It makes you feel good, while Dopamine is a stimulant neurotransmitter. It makes you alert and motivated.

What to eat? Increase the intake of the amino acid tryptophan which helps in the production of Serotonin, found on shrimp, tofu, tuna, oats, chicken, eggs, salmon, and beef tenderloin. As per Dopamine, include food rich in the amino acid tyrosine, which can boost the production of this neurotransmitter. So add to your diet peanuts, banana, fish, yogurt, sesame seeds and cottage cheese. Likewise, cocoa powder helps to boost both chemicals.

How to exercise? Studies show that moderate to high-intensity exercises increase the feel good hormones. Particularly, this has been observed with endurance activities such as running. Have you wondered why you can figure out the best solution to a problem after a tough training session? Now you know it!

6. CCK peptide

Why? It’s a hunger hormone. It signals that we’re full

What to eat? Make sure you eat your protein and fat at the beginning of the meal, and eat starch at the end of the meal. It’s release primarily through fat and protein intake.

7 & 8. Leptin and Ghrelin

Why? High Leptin shuts off hunger while high Ghrelin equates to hunger.

What to eat? Apple and oat bran fiber will make you feel full faster. These foods bump up the Leptin. Ghrelin is both a protein and carb responsive. If you’re in a low-carb diet and don’t feel full after eating, you need to add more carbs to stimulate this hormone in the short time. If you get hungry two hours later, then you need to eat more protein.

How to exercise? Studies show that high-intensity exercise decreases appetite intake while low-intensity workouts can create the opposite effect.

So now you have a recipe on how to make your metabolism a truly firing machine.

Marta Montenegro inspires people to live healthy lives by giving them the tools and strength to find one’s inner athlete through her personal website MartaMontenegro.com. She created SOBeFiT, a national fitness magazine for men and women, and the Montenegro Method DVD workout series – a program she designed for getting results in just 21 days by exercising 21 minutes a day . Marta is a strength and conditioning coach and serves as an adjunct professor of exercise physiology at Florida International University.

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