Looking for ways to increase metabolism? If you’re frustrated with your inability to lose weight, you may be wondering if a slow metabolism is keeping you from burning fat. There is no shortage of articles telling you exactly what you could do to turn your metabolism into that of a race horse, but are they really true? Is it possible to change your habits in a way that significantly changes your metabolism?
First and foremost, let’s get something straight: The Mayo Clinic says that contrary to popular belief, a slow metabolism is rarely the cause of excess weight gain. Your metabolism influences your body’s basic energy needs, but what you eat and drink along with your physical activity are the things that ultimately determine your weight. And isn’t that what you want after all? When asking how to increase metabolism, what you really want to know how to lose body fat!
Simply put, your metabolism is the process by which your body converts calories into energy. Several things determine how fast your metabolism is including your age, sex, body size, and body composition. You obviously can’t change your age or sex, but you CAN work on burning more calories and fat each day for a leaner body composition and increase metabolism in that way. Here are some simple, effective ideas to show you how to increase metabolism, burn calories, and lower your body fat for a happier, healthier you!
1. Drink More Water
The best and most basic thing you can do for your metabolism is to drink enough water. You hear it over and over and you’re going to keep hearing it. Why? Because it’s true. This one’s not going away, so change your habits now and get your water on! Drinking water actually boosts your body’s ability to burn fat. For you smarty-pants out there this is called “water-induced thermogenesis” A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that drinking about 17 oz. of water increases your metabolic rate temporarily by 30 percent for healthy men and women. But it doesn’t end there. Studies also show that drinking water 30 minutes before a meal will help you consume fewer calories. In addition, people who drink water instead of sugary drinks are often more successful at both losing weight and keeping it off.
2. Eat Protein at Every Meal
This is not a tip telling you to go on a high protein diet. Rather, there are many reasons eating the right amount of protein at every meal, starting with breakfast, will help you increase metabolism and lose weight. First, protein has been shown to keep you full and satisfied. This means you eat less in between meals and tend to stick to the food that fuels you. In addition, one study showed that after eating protein, metabolic rate increased by 15-30% compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats. Keep in mind that protein has calories too, so finding the right amount for your body is key. If you aren’t sure, check out our article “How Much Protein Do We Really Need” for some simple guidance.
3. Get More Sleep
Sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on metabolism. According to the International Journal of Endocrinology, there is growing evidence that sleep loss and sleep disorders have a significant impact on metabolism. People who are sleep deprived tend to feel hungry and eat more during the day. Lack of sleep has also been shown to increase blood sugar levels. Getting by on just a few hours of sleep is not a badge of honor. For good health and a better metabolism, shoot for 7-9 hours of sleep a night!
4. Build Muscle
We’re going to let you in on the best “anti-aging” secret you can get: strength training! Maybe you’ve heard that your metabolism will slow down as you age. A large part of this is due to the loss of muscle tissue. At age 30 you begin to lose muscle. Aside from other benefits like staying strong and independent and looking great, muscle is active tissue. It burns calories even when you are at rest, unlike fat tissue. This means an increase in strength training and muscle means an increase in metabolism at any age. Cardio is still important, but for long-lasting, continuous calorie burning, you need to strength train and build muscle!
5. Increase Your Intensity
Reading a book and walking on a treadmill is such a nice way to get your exercise in. The problem is that this type of lower intensity exercise burns a lower amount of calories and does it mostly only while you are moving. On the other hand, High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, burns more calories per minute and keeps burning calories long after you’ve stopped the workout! Nice, right? According to Dr. Len Kravitz, “oxygen consumption and caloric expenditure remain elevated as the working muscle cells restore physiological and metabolic factors in the cell to pre-exercise levels. This translates into higher and longer post-exercise caloric burn.” In other words, after HIIT, your metabolism is revved up! The best part of HIIT is you spend less time working out and get better results, but this doesn’t mean you have to give up your moderate intensity exercise. Dr. Kravitz study showed that it has value too! However, if you’re not satisfied by the results you’re getting from your typical routine, consider incorporating 1 or 2 HIIT workouts into your weekly schedule.
6. Move More
Getting a great workout in is an important part of your day and a valuable piece of the puzzle when trying to increase metabolism. But if you get in a hard workout then sit for the rest of the day, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking.” That phrase isn’t so far from the truth. An eye-opening new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that sedentary behavior like sitting in a chair all day increases your chances of developing a potentially fatal disease prematurely even if you exercise! And for the purposes of our topic on metabolism, it might be good to know that researchers at the University of Missouri recently showed that prolonged periods of sitting can actually slow down your ability to burn fat.
So get up and move several times a day. Take the stairs. Park farther away. Take a stretch break at work. Fitness trackers are a wonderful way to keep you accountable and remind you to keep going all day long.
Try out these tips to start boosting your metabolism and working towards a healthier, happier, life!