Did you get stuck with a naturally slow metabolism?
Take back control with these 10 proven ways to increase your metabolism.
Metabolism is partly genetics. Some people are born with fast metabolism while others aren’t quite as lucky. And while our genetics, gender and age play a role, there are some ways you can contribute to boosting it.
Our list covers different things you can change in your life to help improve speed up your metabolic rate. Here they are:
1. Add Weight Training to Your Workouts
One of the best ways to increase your metabolism is to hit the gym. And while we’re commonly led to believe that going straight to the cardio machines is what helps us lose weight, try hitting the weights instead.
Using barbells, dumbbells or the weight machines help us lose weight not only by increase amount of energy expenditure but just as importantly it boosts our resting metabolic rate.
Researchers at the University of Maryland’s Department of Kinesiology observed that participants of a 24 week strength training program showed a significant increase (7%) in their resting metabolic rate.
Just as important, the results showed that the response wasn’t affected by age. And that those who were in their 20’s benefited just as like those in their 70’s.
The latter observation is essential as our resting metabolic rate decreases as we age. So adding weight training to workouts as we age significantly helps keep our metabolism up.
With weight training, start with something that’s within your capabilities. In the beginning, focusing on proper form is more important that the weight your lift. As you get more experience, progressively add to the weight to challenge your body. This way you develop more muscle while losing fat.
2. Build Muscle
Why did we mention trying to build more muscle just above?
The reason is muscle burns more calories that fat. Depending of which fitness expert you ask, they’ll have different answers, and probably debate among one another.
What they do agree is that every pound of muscle you gain helps burn more calories that you would have before. The number of calories range from 30 to as much as 50 calories daily.
According to research by the Obesity Research Center at Columbia University, the resting metabolic rate per pound of muscle burns 6 calories when you’re at rest. Compare that to the 2 lbs. that fat is able to burn.
So while fat does provide some beneficial effects to our metabolism, it is only capable of producing 1/3 as much calorie burning capability compared to muscle. This is one reason to gain lean muscles and shed fat.
When it comes to building muscle, lifting weights isn’t enough. You need to get enough nutrition from food, including protein to do so.
3. Get Enough Sleep
For adults, the recommended number of sleep is placed at 7 to 8 hours a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
If you’re trying to lose weight or looking to keep your metabolism up, keeping a regular sleep schedule and keeping enough quality sleep helps get you there.
In contrast sleep deprivation does the opposite.
Based on a review of studies by the University of Chicago’s Department of Medicine, not getting enough sleep alters our body’s ability to metabolize glucose negatively. Lack of sleep also decreases its energy expenditure and also increases our appetite. There’s also research backing that sleep restriction leads us to choosing high calorie foods over healthier choice.
Together these 3 events lead to weight gain and increased risk of developing diabetes in the future.
So if you’re eating well, and hitting the gym, make sure to get enough sleep on a nightly basis when trying to lose weight. Here are a few ways to get better sleep.
4. HIIT the Gym!
For anyone who’s daily schedule is busy, going to the gym or spending an hour or two working out may be hard to do on a consistent basis.
If that’s the case, try HIIT instead.
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training.
Instead of going at a steady pace like most conventional workouts do, you increase the level of intensity and shorten the workouts. Often lasting between 20 to 30 minutes, these workouts are great for anyone who is short on time.
In this form of training, you go all out doing one exercise for a specific number of seconds, then rest for a very brief period before going all out again for the next exercise. Often there are between 5 to 8 exercises done between short rest periods.
One example would be to go all out and do push ups for 20 seconds. Then rest for 10 seconds and move on to a next exercise like squats, and so on.
This way you increase the intensity of each exercise and shorten the rest periods in between.
This not only reduces the time you spend in the gym but has also been proven to burn more calories long after you’ve left the gym.
A Study done by the University of Guelph in Canada showed that HIIT is a great way to increase the entire body’s as well as the skeletal muscle’s ability to burn carbohydrates as well as fat.
5. Eat Protein
Aside from sleep and working out, the one other factor that can affect your metabolism is what you eat. This includes both food and drink. And in the next few points we’ll take a look at some of these foods that help boost metabolism.
Compared to other food types, protein burns more calories. TEF or thermic effect of food refers to the energy the body uses during digestion.
Because the body uses energy to digest, break down what we eat, and absorb the nutrients, it burns calories while doing so.
Depending on what you eat and how much you eat, the amount of calories burned by the body during this process can range from as little as 6% to as much as 15% of the total calories your use up daily.
Protein has a TEF of between 20% to 35%, depending on what type of protein you eat.
This means that be 20% to 35% of the calories of each gram of protein we eat is used up by the digestion and absorption process.
This is much higher than the TEF of carbs and fat which are around 5% to 15% for each.
So aside from being essential for building muscle, protein helps increase our metabolism by burn off more calories through the digestive process.
6. Drink Water
Drinking water helps flush out toxins from our bodies and helps keep us hydrated.
According to the Mayo Clinic, add to your regular water intake is needed when we engage in any physical activity that results in us sweating. For workouts that last under an hour, drinking an extra 400 to 600 ml. of water does the trick. For durations longer than that, drink more.
The extra benefit that water brings to the table is that is helps boost our metabolism.
A German study showed that in normal weight, healthy individuals, drinking 500 ml. of water increased the participants’ metabolic rate by 30%. They recorded that the increase in the metabolic rate started 10 minutes after drinking the water and reached its peak between 30 to 40 minutes.
While drinking water may seem like a trivial thing that we take for granted, it offers a lot of benefits to our health. And by simply drinking water throughout the day we can stimulate the body to boost its calorie burning capacity.
Combine this with how water helps make you feel fuller when you drink it before meals, adding a few extra glasses to what you already drink helps with weight loss.
7. Lower the Temperature
In addition to drinking water, eating protein, getting exercise and sleep, how cold the temperature where you stay also affects your metabolic rate.
Staying in cooler environments induces to body to burn more calories compared to staying in warmer temperatures.
A study by the National Institutes of Health observed that participants who slept in a room set at 66ºF for 4 weeks showed increase metabolic rates and burned more calories as a result.
The body also uses more energy to help the body keep itself warm.
In a separate study by the Maastricht University in the Netherlands, 10 men and 10 women were placed in a climate chamber. The chamber was set to 1 hour at 71ºF to simulate summer weather, then adjusted to 59ºF for 3 hours, to simulate a winter climate.
They observed that there was an increase the metabolic response to the colder temperature compared to that during the summer climate.
While sleeping or staying in cooler environments isn’t going to increase your metabolism a whole lot, it surprisingly does affect it.
Considering that studies show that we sleep best at temperatures around 65ºF, it may be a good idea to lower the thermostat in your bedroom.
8. Have Some Green Tea
Most of us are already aware that green tea is known for its anti-oxidant properties and comes with numerous health benefits.
Now, you can add metabolism boosting power to that list as well.
Green tea contains catechins and caffeine. Both substances have been shown to increase our body’s metabolic rate for hours after you’ve finished sipping that cup. Also, like water, it doesn’t contain any calories.
This means you don’t consume any calories, and burn extra more just by sipping tea.
Speeding up our body’s metabolism is one reason research done by the Tehran University of Medical Sciences showed that drinking 4 cups of tea daily helps the participants in the study lose weight, reduce their BMI and waist size in 2 weeks time.
9. Drink Coffee
Thanks to its caffeine content, coffee offers similar effects to green tea.
Therefore depending whether you’re a coffee or tea person you can enjoy either of the beverages and still get the metabolic boost.
Most of us enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning to get its energy boosting and ‘wake you up’ power. Now you can enjoy its effects for your metabolism as well.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that significant increases in the participants’ metabolic rates happened 3 hours after drinking coffee.
They also observed that the thermic effects of a meal was significantly increased when coffee was ingested before the meal. They did notice that decaffeinated coffee didn’t have that similar kind of effect.
10. Add Cayenne Pepper to Your Dishes (eat spicy food)
If you’re a fan of spicy food then you’re in luck. Capsacian, the active ingredient in chili peppers, not only gives it that spicy taste but also helps speed up our metabolism.
Like many of the foods in our list, the effects of spicy chili peppers is temporary and it does not pump up your metabolic rate through the roof.
According to the Maastricht University in the Netherlands, adding 2.56 mg of capsaicin to your meals helps produce a negative energy balance of 25%.
So the next time you cook up your favorite meal, whether it’s steak, chicken or even your hamburgers, consider adding some heat to it to help you burn a few extra calories.