Quite simply, metabolism refers to all chemical reactions in the body (the terms metabolism and metabolic rate are also used interchangeably). It’s basic science: the higher your metabolism is, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to lose weight. Conversely, if you have a slow or sluggish metabolism, you will likely feel low on energy, find yourself gaining weight despite your best efforts, and you might even struggle with depression or other mood disorders. Here are nine ways to boost your metabolism that you can start right away.
Don’t skimp on protein
While all foods raise your metabolic rate for about three hours after eating, protein raises it by up to 30%, compared to 5-10% with carbohydrates and 3% with fats, according to a 2014 study. Furthermore, protein is key to feeling full, therefore reducing cravings and overall calorie intake throughout the day. Strive to eat protein with every meal and snack.
Drink green tea
Studies have shown that the simple act of drinking green tea can boost your metabolism by 5%, and burn more fat. Always opt for natural green, jasmine or oolong tea, and steer clear of canned or bottled versions that contain a long list of other ingredients (primarily sugar).
Eat more spicy foods
Don’t like spicy? Well, maybe give it another shot. Capsaicin is a primary ingredient in hot peppers, and is known for its metabolism-boosting effects. One study even suggested that eating enough capsaicin could burn an extra 10 calories per meal.
The news that coffee can boost your metabolism by up to 11% will probably make many coffee drinkers very happy. The leaner you are, the more coffee will likely boost your metabolism, and vice versa. Remember though, if you suffer from anxiety or insomnia, don’t overdo it.
Try interval training
Workout ruts and chronic cardio can wreak havoc on your weight loss plan, but high intensity interval training (HIIT) can seriously take it to the next level. Multiple studies have proven that short bursts of very intense exercise will burn more fat and increase your post-exercise metabolism much more than endurance cardio will. Instead of bee-lining it to the elliptical machine, try your gym’s Tabata class. You can also easily do HIIT at home, getting in a great workout in just 15 minutes.
Drink cold water, but not with meals
Drinking water, period, will help to speed up your metabolic rate. One study even showed that drinking a half liter of water sped up children’s metabolism by up to 30% for an hour afterwards. Cold water might boost your calorie burning potential even more, but can also interfere with digestion if consumed with food. Keep your meal-time water to room temperature, but opt for icy cold any other time of day.
Sounds obvious, but if you spend the bulk of your day sitting, your metabolism is suffering. Getting up every hour from your desk and walking around will not only burn more calories, but prevent you from developing some serious muscle imbalances (back pain, hunched shoulders, etc).
Use coconut oil
Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids, which are known for their fat burning and metabolism boosting properties. Replace any vegetable oils you might be using (canola, soy, corn, etc) with coconut oil in cooking.
Get your beauty rest
Don’t roll your eyes at this one, as it is biologically nearly impossible to lose weight if you’re not sleeping enough. Lack of sleep takes a serious toll on your hormone levels, and in any battle against your hormones, you will not win. Studies show that lack of sleep is hugely related to obesity, due mainly to its metabolism-lowering effects.
Whatever your goal, boosting your metabolism will raise your energy levels and support weight loss efforts. If you already do all of these things but still feel sluggish or like something just isn’t right, speak with your doctor.