What is your Metabolism?
Your metabolism is all the chemical processes that occur within your body that are keeping you alive- not the number of calories you burn. Nowadays, however, ‘metabolism’ has become synonymous for your metabolic rate, which is the amount of calories you burn. Having a higher metabolism means that you are burning more calories. This makes it easier to lose weight and keep it off- meaning that doughnut you decided to indulge in won’t be the end of the world.
Our size, gender, genetics, and age all play a part in our metabolic rate, but there are ways that we can control it. Here are 10 scientifically proven ways to improve your metabolism, and keep your body burning like a high performing furnace.
1. Kick Your Workout Into High Gear With Interval Training
If you want to see the results, you’ve got to put in the work. While regular aerobic exercise is still good for you, if you really want to improve your metabolism try high intensity interval training. Whether it’s by signing up for a HIIT class or just changing the way you do your usual aerobic exercise, interval training is a fat-burning work out. This is the sort of workout you may hate while you’re in it, but your body, and your metabolism, will thank you for later.
What to do: Add 30 seconds intervals of high speed to your usual running or biking routine followed by a period of rest. If you do this six to ten times during your workout, you can increase the intensity and time, as you get better.
2. Drink Green Tea
Green tea has been heralded as a superfood (or, rather, super drink) for a while now. There is evidence that the active ingredient catechin helps improve your metabolism. Catechin is an antioxidant that helps release fat from fat cells, speeding up the rate your body converts fat to energy. Green tea has shown to improve your metabolism anywhere between 5 to 17 percent.
What to do: Drink at least one cup of green tea a day, preferably in the morning. Doing this, you’ll be sure to start your day off on the right foot by getting hydrated, and it’s small amount of caffeine will help you get the day started. Try looking for natural green tea that you steep yourself and add some lemon for added detox.
3. Do NOT Skip Breakfast
After a big dinner the night before or a wild night out it’s tempting to compensate by skipping the most important meal of the day- but don’t. When you wake up in the morning, wake up your metabolism too. Studies show that women who skip meals, especially breakfast, are 4 ½ times more likely to become obese. So while in the short term you may see the numbers go down on the scale, your metabolism nose-dives. With a slow metabolism you are more than likely to put the weight back on, and more. So even if it means waking up a minute earlier to grab a yogurt out of the fridge before heading to work, the sacrifice is worth it.
What to do: Start the day with some nutrient-rich oatmeal or an omelet. Whole grains are great in the morning, as they’ll give you long-lasting energy and make you feel fuller for longer.
4. Eat More Protein
While eating food in general increases your metabolism for a few hours, protein causes the biggest increase. This is because food requires extra calories to digest, absorb, and process the meal, which is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). Protein can increase your metabolism as much as 15 to 30 percent, and can also cause you to eat less. So if you increase the amount of protein in your diet, you should be well on your way to a higher metabolism.
What to do: Imagine that your plate has 4 quadrants. ¼ of the plate should be a protein dish, like lean meat, fish, or legumes. If you do more than 30 minutes of exercise daily, you may need more protein.
5. Get Enough Sleep
If you’re serious about improving your metabolism, carve out all the 8 hours of sleep into your schedule. Sleep deprivation lowers your metabolism, which in turn has shown to increase the risk of obesity. Sleep deprivation has shown to increase the “hunger” hormone, ghrelin, and suppress the “fullness” hormone, leptin. This causes you to feel hungrier more often, over eat, and struggle to lose weight. Sleep is something we all take for granted. But if you are trying to improve your metabolism, a good night’s sleep is an absolute necessity.
What to do: Try to keep a schedule at night. An hour or so before you want to go to sleep, do the same routine every night. Have dinner, shower, read, and get in bed. Doing this repeatedly will teach your body to wind down and expect to sleep, making it easier for your to fall asleep. Remember not to do anything too stimulating before bed, like watching an action movie or exercising too close to bed time.
6. Drink More Water
70% of the Earth is water as is 60% of your body. Still, water (along with sleep) is another thing we take for granted. Drinking water is one of the easiest ways to speed up your digestion, burn calories, and improve your metabolism. The recommended minimum is 8 glasses a day, but drinking more definitely does not hurt. Studies show that downing 6 cups of cold water a day can raise your resting metabolism, burn extra calories and lead to a possible weight loss of 5 pounds a year! 5 pounds a year from just drinking cold water- it doesn’t get easier than that. Your body not only burns more calories raising the temperature of the water, but water also fills you up, decreases your hunger, and makes you eat less. Water is the secret to life, and to your metabolism.
What to do: Drink some water first thing in the morning. It’ll help you wake up and start your metabolism. If you have a hard time remembering to drink water, try to incorporate foods with high water content, like celery or cucumber. You can also put some fruits into your water to add some extra flavor. Remember that tea and other drinks also help you get the water you need to stay hydrated, but coffee will actually dehydrate you.
7. Pump Some Iron
Dumbbells and dead lifts are your friends. Muscle not only weighs more than fat, it is also more metabolically active than fat. Every pound of muscle on your body uses about 6 calories a day just to stay alive. If you put on a little muscle mass, you can ramp up your resting metabolism and look leaner. Strength training for even just half an hour twice a week can raise your resting metabolism significantly. So, in addition to your interval training, remember to add some weights to your routine!
What to do: Plan to set aside two days a week to strength training. There are great workouts that you can do with minimal equipment at home, at a park, or at a gym. Think about joining a workout class if you need some extra motivation, and keep track of your improvement over time- you’ll feel great when you’re able to see your changes!
8. Snacking Smart
3 meals a day is great, but more often than not we get hungry in between as well. Instead of finding yourself randomly ravenous in between meals and grabbing a doughnut (‘cause Dunkin’ Donuts is easy and accessible everywhere), plan ahead. Keep healthy snacks like nuts, apples, fruit and nut bars, and bananas to snack on when you get hungry. This will keep your metabolism running smooth instead of nose-diving when you don’t have any fuel in your body. Snacking in between meals has shown to curb hunger and actually result in eating fewer calories during the day. It can prevent insulin spikes, keeps your blood sugar levels stable, and overall improve your metabolism. So don’t feel guilty for snacking as long as you’re healthy about it!
What to do: Keep some snacks in your bag, in your desk at work, or even in your car. Keeping some fruit, veggies, or nuts will help you make smart snack choices. Try something like nuts for the car, and maybe an apple or orange for your bag.
9. Spice it Up!
If you want your body to burn, start with your tongue. Hot sauce, cayenne, chilies all contain a substance called capsaicin that can bolster your metabolism. Next time you are making pasta, thrown in some red chili flakes. Is your soup too bland? Throw in some cayenne to spice it up and burn an extra 10 calories every meal. Just a little fiery flavor can give your metabolism a quick boost. If your palette just can’t deal with the spice, have no fear! There are certain non-spicy peppers that contain dihydocapsiate (DCT) that can produce the same effects. Bottom line is, pile on the peppers!
What to do: Add some spice to your regular dishes. Eggs, sauces, pasta… you can put some cayenne pretty much anywhere. If you’re not big into spices, start small. Try a dash of Tabasco on your eggs or beans and work your way up!
10. Cut Down On Your Alcohol Intake
If cocktail hour is a habit for you, maybe skip the second drink. Studies show alcohol can slow down your metabolic rate as much as 73 percent. This is because when there is a cosmo or margarita to break down, your body makes that the priority instead of the food it should be digesting. Don’t deny yourself the occasional indulgence- but try sticking to low calorie drinks. Above all, try and avoid the go-to bar drunchies. Fries and burgers may seem perfect when you’ve had a drink or two, but your body will thank you the next morning for not giving in.
What to do: Limit your drinking to the weekend, and make smart drink choices. Don’t drink alcohol mixed with Coca-cola or other high-sugar options. Prepare some food before you go out so that you have something to snack on when you get home, and be sure to drink lots of water, as alcohol also dehydrates us.
Weight loss is something that most people struggle with. But instead of crash dieting, or a doing a crazy but unsustainable exercise regime, try and make lasting life changes. Using these 10 methods, you can improve your metabolism and make your body work for you. But most of all, these 10 tips can help make a happier and healthier you.