Fine-tune the way your body processes calories.
Your metabolism is the process by which your body converts calories into energy. Metabolic rate can vary between people, leading some to claim that a slow metabolism keeps them from losing weight.
While it’s difficult to change your basal metabolic rate — the “resting” level at which your body burns calories to perform basic functions like breathing, creating new cells and circulating blood — it is possible to give your metabolism a boost through smart nutrition and exercise.
Here are a few ways to subtly speed up your metabolism:
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: If you’re dehydrated, your body will have a harder time burning calories. Give yourself the fuel you need to keep your metabolism going by drinking a glass of water before every meal; also, snack on fruits and veggies, which naturally contain water.
- Make More Muscle: Because a pound of muscle needs about six calories per day to sustain itself, while a pound of fat needs only two, people with more muscle have a higher basal metabolic rate! In this way, hitting the gym can have a compounding result.
- Get Spicy: Some studies suggest that chili peppers and other spices boost metabolism by creating heat inside the body. While this may be true to a certain extent, another side effect of spicing up your food is that you tend to eat less, according to a 2006 article in The New York Times. More Sriracha, please!
- Eat More Protein: It takes more energy to digest protein than carbohydrates. Simply replace some carbs with lean proteins, like eggs, low-fat dairy, chicken, fish or turkey.
- Amp Up Exercise: Long, leisurely walks are all well and good; however, high-intensity exercise, like aerobics, Zumba or cardio, will get your metabolism going. Push yourself for a short time, and you’ll reap the benefits later.
- Caffeinate: Like chili peppers, caffeine consumed in moderation can lend your metabolism a short-term boost. Sip a cup of black coffee once or twice per day — and use that extra energy for some high-intensity exercise.
- Stay Away From Crash Diets: Drastically cutting calories might help you lose a few pounds in the short run, but it can undercut your metabolism. By making your body think that you’re starving, you’ll lead it to conserve calories wherever possible. This slows your metabolism and leads to loss of muscle — which further slows your metabolism.