Ask anyone who has a history of yo-yo dieting if they’d rather have a faster metabolism that allowed them to eat whatever they wanted for the rest of their lives or to win $100,000 and I bet they’d have a hard time deciding. Yes, having a fast metabolism does seem like winning the lottery, yet there’s no golden ticket to win one.
The good news is that even if you weren’t born with one, there are things you can do to make the one you have work more efficiently - including the tips we’re sharing below.
First, a quick lesson on what your metabolism really is, as most people think it’s like a muscle you can build, but it’s not. Your metabolism is actually made up of various chemical processes in your body that create fuel from the food you eat. Everyone has a “basal” metabolic rate, which measures how many calories you burn just while sitting on the couch during a Netflix binge. Those calories are burned by keeping your organs functioning, your digestive system running, and keeping the body’s muscle and fat alive.
There are a few things that predict your “couch sitting” metabolic rate, including your age, hormones, height, weight, and the amount of muscle you have, and yet, no matter what it will slow as you age due to less activity and muscle loss - known as sarcopenia.
What we want to do is take that basal metabolic rate and raise it as often as we can, so that even while you’re watching Ted Lasso you’ll burn more calories- these tips will help!
One of the best ways to boost your resting metabolic rate is to increase the amount of muscle you have, because muscle uses a ton more energy than fat, so no matter how much you weigh, the more you have the more calories you’ll burn.
Each pound of muscle uses approximately 6 calories a day to sustain itself, while a pound of fat only uses 2 - so although that might be a small amount, it can mean the difference between gaining or losing a few pounds a year.
One study showed that doing strength exercises for 11 minutes a day, three times per week, helped burn an additional 125 calories per day and increased the participants resting metabolic rate by 7.4% after just six months.
Adding strength training to your weekly workouts can not only help you retain muscle as you age, but also build it, and avoid that drop in metabolic rate. You can even pick up those weights or resistance bands during commercials to reach that 11 minute goal three times a week!
Amp Up Your Workout
Cardio may not help you build muscle, but it can help boost your metabolism, especially if you make it a high intensity session. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) uses quick and intense bursts of activity to deliver a longer rise in resting metabolic rate than a moderate or low intensity workout can.
Sound intense? Don’t let the “bursts of activity” scare you. It can be as intense as you want it to be, as long as the alternating intervals help your heart rate reach at least 80% of its maximum capacity, which will be different for everyone. For example, you can take a bike ride and speed up for 30 seconds to a rate that increases your heart rate, then the next 30 seconds take it easy. It’s helpful to use a Fitbit or Apple watch to help you know the rate of intensity you’re working at.
So lace up your running sneakers, do soccer drills with your kids, or find a quick HIIT workout on Youtube to keep you challenged.
Fuel Up With Water
Did you know that even if you’re mildly dehydrated it can cause your metabolism to slow down?
Yes, drinking water does more than keep your skin glowing and organs running - it can help you burn more calories, as your body needs water to burn them. That’s not to say you can hydrate with any old liquid - drinking a Gatorade full of sugar counteracts not only the calories burned during your workout, but those burned in general.
A study showed that people who drank water instead of calorie-laden beverages were more successful at keeping off weight they had lost because it reduced their overall calorie intake and temporarily sped up their metabolism. Drinking 17 oz of water can increase your resting metabolism by 10–30% for about an hour and it may be even greater if the water is cold, as it takes even more energy to heat it to your body’s temperature.
Not crazy about the tasteless, clear stuff? Add our Minerals and Antioxidants to not only keep you hydrated but also keep you from ingesting a bunch of sugar and red dye you don’t need.
Eating smaller meals, more often, can help keep your metabolism working overtime. When you eat a large meal and then wait hours in between your next, your metabolism slows down, but if you eat a meal or snack every three to four hours, you’ll burn more calories throughout the day.
Power Up With Protein
Eating a slice of pizza usually sounds more appealing than a chicken breast, but the latter helps your body burn more calories by digesting protein instead of fat or carbohydrates. Good sources of protein include lean meat, fish, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, and low-fat dairy products, and eating more of them can increase your metabolism due to the thermic effect of food (TEF), caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the food you eat.
Eating protein causes the largest rise in TEF, because it increases your metabolism by 15–30%, compared to 5–10% for carbs and 0–3% for fats, and also reduces the drop in metabolism often associated with losing fat.
One of our favorite ways to get in extra protein that tastes great is by sneaking our Plant Protein into our favorite recipes. You can check them out here.
If you don’t already consider yourself a healthy eater and exercise lover, start out slow. Add those 11 minutes of strength training, three times a week, to your TV watching schedule, drink a few more ounces of water during the day and speed walk through the mall intermittently. If all else fails, maybe start off by adding some chicken to your pizza.
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Five Healthy Habits That Can Extend Your Life
4 Reasons To Pay Attention To Your Gut Health