Boosting metabolism is the holy grail of weight watchers everywhere, but how fast your body burns calories depends on several things. Some people inherit a speedy metabolism. Men tend to burn more calories than women, even while resting. And for most people, metabolism slows steadily after age 40. Although you can't control your age, gender, or genetics, there are other ways to improve your metabolism. Here are 10 of them.
Strength training is another great way to make sure your metabolism is at its peak. Through strength training, you can tone your muscles and boost your metabolism. The great thing about muscles, other than looking lean, is that they burn more calories than fat. No need to bust out the big weights for strength training — try some basics, like push-ups, sit-ups, resistance bands, or yoga.
Bodybuilders have known for years that strategically placed ‘cheat meals’ can help prevent the metabolic slowdown mentioned above. One meal every five to seven days that contains as many carbs and calories as desired can work. Just make sure not to make a habit out of cheat meals. In fact, you could also just as easily eat clean each day and meet your calorie needs, rather than consistently depriving yourself, then occasionally indulging.
To keep your weight off permanently, you have to keep your metabolism up and running efficiently. Those who eat only one meal a day, usually a continuous dinner, never get their metabolisms to work at top efficiency. When you get up in the morning, eating just a little something will kick-start your metabolism, which helps to burn those calories more efficiently. If you don't eat in the morning, your metabolism stays in its nighttime mode and burns inefficiently.
Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, fresh herbs and spices provide the proteins, carbohydrates and fats that give you energy and even blood sugar levels. Healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, fish oils, seeds, nuts, soybeans) promote longer-lasting, stable energy levels. Lean proteins (fish, soy foods, white meat poultry, lean meats and low-fat dairy) offer essential proteins for better digestion and muscle building.
Fuel your body with wholesome, nutritious foods, and limit your intake of refined carbs (anything sugary or white-flour based). To maximize the calories burned through digestion and stave off hunger, get plenty of complex carbs (fruits, vegetables and beans) and eat a little protein with every meal. It doesn't need to be meat; nuts, lowfat dairy, tofu, and beans are all good vegetarian protein sources.
"Protein burns more calories than carbs and fat,” says Bustillo. About 30 percent of the calories in protein will go towards digestion and absorption, whereas that number is only about 10 percent for carbs, and even less for fats. Fiber's another nutrient that costs a little more energy, says Bustillo—so, getting adequate protein and fiber can definitely help maximize your BMR.
Tea, often used in many diet fads is scientifically proven to boost your metabolism while trimming your waist line. In a study published in the Journal of Medicine Investigation, researchers tested the effects of oolong tea on energy metabolism in 11 healthy Japanese females who either consumed water, oolong tea, or green tea. In comparison to water and green tea, oolong tea increased energy metabolism by 10 percent which increases the overall metabolic rate. The polyphenols — compounds found in tea — are said to be responsible for the enhancement of the females' metabolism.
The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn—no matter what you’re doing. Hitting the gym helps you build muscle but eating protein keeps your gains from breaking down and slowing your metabolic rate as a result. Protein needs differ by individual, but typically consuming 0.8 to one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day should be sufficient enough to fuel weight loss, says Leah Kaufman, MS, RD, CDN, a New York City-based Dietitian. For a 130-pound (59 kilograms) person, that would equal between 46 and 58 grams of protein. Research has found that because protein is more difficult for the body to break down and digest than other nutrients, it can increase post-meal calorie burn by as much as 35 percent. Aim to incorporate some protein into every meal and snack throughout the day.
Skimping on sleep can derail your metabolism. In a study at the University of Chicago, people who got four hours of sleep or less a night had more difficulty processing carbohydrates. "When you're exhausted, your body lacks the energy to do its normal day-to-day functions, which include burning calories, so your metabolism is automatically lowered," explains Peeke.