Metabolism is the process by which your body converts food into energy or, alternatively, stores it as fat for future use. Each time you eat, enzymes in your body’s cells break down the food and turn it into energy that keeps your heart beating, your mind thinking, and your legs churning during a grueling workout. If you have a fast metabolism you will burn calories and in doing so store less fat. A slower metabolism means your ability to burn calories will be reduced and your body will store calories as fat. The faster your metabolism is the easier you will find it to shed those unwanted kilos.
According to Robert Reames, CSCS, CN, CPT, boosting your metabolism means more than just exercising. Everything has a role, from what you’re eating to how much sleep you get.
Read on for 8 ways to give your metabolism a natural boost.
USE INTERVAL TRAINING TO REV UP YOUR WORKOUT – Walk for the same amount of time at the same intensity day in and day out and your body will get as bored with your workout as you do. Throw in some variety with interval training, which involves changing the intensity of your workout throughout your exercise session. Every 5 minutes of your walk, jog for 1 minute. Every 5 minutes of your bike ride, shift into a higher gear and pedal hard for a minute. If you swim, speed up every other length. You’ll burn more calories in the same amount of time.
MAKE SOME MUSCLE – Not only does muscle weigh more than fat, but it uses more energy, too. The average woman in her 30’s who strength-trains 30 to 40 minutes twice a week for four months will increase her resting metabolism by 100 calories a day. That means you’re resetting your thermostat to keep running at that rate even on the days when you don’t make it to the gym, says Hunter.
LOWER YOUR BEDROOM TEMPERATURE – A striking new study published in the journal Diabetes suggests that simply turning on the AC may subtly transform a person’s stores of brown fat—“good” fat, stimulated by cold temperatures, that serves to keep us warm by burning through “bad” fat stores. Participants spent a few weeks sleeping in bedrooms with varying temperatures: a neutral 75 degrees, a cool 66 degrees, and a balmy 81 degrees. After four weeks of sleeping at 66 degrees, the men had almost doubled their volumes of brown fat.
LAUGH MORE – Genuine laughter may cause a 10–20 percent increase in basal energy expenditure and resting heart-rate, according to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity. That means a 10-15 minute giggle fest could burn up 40 to 170 calories.
GET YOUR ONEGA-3’S – Omega-3s balance blood sugar and reduce inflammation, helping to regulate metabolism. They may also reduce resistance to the hormone leptin, which researchers have linked to how fast fat is burned. Hate the fishy after-burp? Try flaxseed oil, walnuts, or eggs fortified with omega-3s. Or check out supplements that have no fishy taste.
DRINK GREEN TEA – If you always opt for coffee over tea, you could be missing out on a major metabolism boost. The brew contains catechins, a type of antioxidant that triggers the release of fat from fat cells and helps speed the liver’s capacity for turning fat into energy.
PICK PROTEIN FOR LUNCH – Cramming protein into every meal helps build and maintain lean muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories than fat does. Aim for about 30 grams of protein the equivalent of about one cup of low-fat cottage cheese or a four-ounce boneless chicken breast at each meal.
GRAB AN APPLE – Eating an apple each day can help prevent metabolic syndrome, a disorder associated with abdominal fat, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. They’ll keep the doctor away and your muffin tops at bay because apples are a low-calorie, nutrient dense source of fiber, which studies have proven to be integral to reducing visceral fat.