Metabolism; your younger brother seems to have mastered it and is able to wash an entire pizza down with a tub of ice cream without gaining a pound, while you dip and diet, unable to keep things stable. Genetic makeup has a lot to do with the metabolic card we’re dealt, but as new research is revealing, there is still a lot we can do to speed up our metabolism, the rate at which our bodies convert and use energy.
1. DO NOT DIET!
You heard me; restricting caloric intake below healthy levels (1,200 for women and 1,800 for men) as is often encouraged by crash diets can wreak havoc on our natural metabolic system. Weight lost is likely to be from muscle, thereby slowing your metabolism. Forcing the body into starvation mode will lower its capacity to burn energy, and keep everything locked in retention mode.
2. EAT MORE
Yes, you heard me. Eat more frequently. Metabolism slows down when you’re not digesting food, which is what happens when eating is restricted to three large meals per day. Grazing on healthy foods throughout the day keeps your metabolism working all day through, and will mean you’ll be less likely to gorge when it comes to meal times.
3. MUSCLE UP
Your resting metabolic rate is the rate at which your body burns calories, even when you’re doing nothing in particular. While a pound of fat burns 2 calories per day to maintain itself, every pound of muscle uses 6 calories, so by strengthening lean muscle, you’ll be working hard, even when you’re not working at all.
4. KEEP IT COOL
Keep your body busy expending energy by sitting just outside your comfort zone. Heaters and air conditioning stop us from expending energy to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and can be a factor in overconsumption of food.
5. SPICE IT UP
Chemical compounds in spicy foods have been shown to boost metabolic rate. While the benefits may be small, every little bit counts, so consider having some fresh chilli or cayenne pepper on hand in the kitchen.
6. GO HARDER
It’s been shown that high-intensity exercise boosts the resting metabolic rate more than any other form of workout. The trick is to get the balance right; interrupt your normal walking or jogging routine with short, sharp burst of sprinting. You don’t have to go all out for long, as long as you go there at all.
7. KEEP HYDRATED
Energy consumption is highly dependent on hydration and will slow down if you’re not getting enough water. Try incorporating more water into your day by keeping a water bottle on hand, avoiding salty snacks and eating more fruits and vegetables, which have a high fluid content.
8. WHAT’S IN A HOT DRINK
As long as you’re not overdoing it, coffee increases your metabolism on a short-term basis. Green tea is the other miracle worker, combining caffeine and catechins which will keep your metabolism up for hours. Two to four cups of this tea could boost your calorie burning power by 17% during exercise.