10 ways to boost your metabolism
Want to burn fat and calories all day? Try these simple metabolism-boosting strategies
The secret to a fast metabolism
In my late teens, I was obsessed with dieting and counting calories. I lived off low-fat yogurt and carrot sticks until a concerned friend (thankfully) referred me to a dietitian.
“Restricting food this much won’t help you lose weight,” the dietitian told me. “You’re actually slowing down your metabolism.” She taught me to respond to my body’s hunger cues and eat properly, which included having a variety of healthful, whole foods whenever I felt hungry. These are principles I’ve used to successfully manage my weight ever since.
Your metabolism drops two percent each decade after you hit your 20s, but that does not mean you have to resign yourself to gaining weight. Here are 10 simple ways to keep that internal flame burning:
Enjoy coffee or green tea
Your morning cup of joe gives your calorie burn a boost for up to two hours. Green tea is a powerful metabolism stimulator, too: Drinking it frequently can help to accelerate weight loss.
Optimize your thyroid function
When a patient complains of gaining weight, I immediately check her thyroid. If you find you’re struggling more with your weight than you used to, ask your doctor to test this critical metabolic gland. While you’re at it, ask to be checked for diabetes, too.
Get enough sleep
Getting less than seven hours of sleep a night messes with metabolism-regulating hormones. If you’re sleep-deprived, you process carbohydrates less efficiently, and that increases your risk of diabetes and obesity.
A substantial breakfast can boost your metabolism by up to 10 percent, especially if you include healthy protein and fat sources such as eggs or Greek yogurt, which is higher in protein than traditional yogurt. A 2010 study in the International Journal of Obesity found that a higher-fat breakfast actually helps the body burn more carbs and fat the rest of the day.
Drink ice water
Drinking water increases metabolism mildly, especially if it’s ice-cold. That’s because your body uses energy to warm it up.
Eat three to four regular, well-balanced meals
Forget the advice that five or six small but frequent meals throughout the day are a way to boost metabolism. In a 2012 study, researchers at the University of Ottawa found that, so long as the same total number of calories was consumed, there was no difference in metabolism between eating frequent, small meals or larger, less frequent meals. But it’s best to avoid having a big dinner if you are trying to lose weight-instead, opt for enjoying a large breakfast. And your body does love a regular meal schedule; stick to set mealtimes throughout the day to maximize your metabolism and weight loss.
Pump up your muscles
The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn all day. Take advantage of this by strengthening large muscle groups like your thighs and butt (do lunges, take the stairs at work or walk uphill).
Eat more protein
A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who ate more protein had a higher resting metabolic rate. Women often don’t get enough, so have some lean protein such as fish, chicken or eggs with every meal, and enjoy protein-rich snacks such as a handful of almonds.
Turn up the burn with chilies
Capsaicin in chili peppers stimulates your nervous system and improves your metabolism after meals. Adding chili to foods also curbs your appetite so you eat less. Chilies’ metabolism-boosting abilities work best if they’re eaten regularly, so find lots of ways to spice up your life!
Get enough to eat
Experts at the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois agree with my former dietitian: Eating too little can slow your metabolism by up to 30 percent. Instead of starving yourself, eat healthful foods and exercise regularly in order to lose weight. This strategy is so much more enjoyable, anyway!