A naturally slow metabolic rate isn’t necessarily something you’re stuck with; there are a number of ways to boost your metabolism for better fitness and health.
We all know that person who can eat French fries and ice cream daily, yet never gain an ounce—while others of us simply look at a bag of potato chips and plump up. There are a number of factors at play in determining each individual’s body composition, but metabolism is at least partly to blame.
Metabolism refers to the process by which our bodies break down proteins, carbs, and fats to provide energy. The faster our metabolism, the more calories we burn. The biggest factor in determining metabolism is our basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is somewhat determined by our genetics. Muscle mass also has a significant influence on BMR—the more muscle a person has, the faster their metabolism. Gender and age play a role in metabolism, too. Men (who generally have more muscle mass than women) tend to have higher BMRs; and everyone’s BMR slows with age. A slow metabolism can impact your health with issues including weight gain, chronic fatigue, constipation, headaches, physical stiffness or weakness, hair loss, dry skin, and poor circulation.
The good news? There are plenty of things you can do to help boost your metabolism. Yes, to a certain degree your BMR is predetermined, but with some general good health and nutrition practices you can burn extra calories and position your body to function at its metabolic best. Try implementing the following techniques into your daily routine to boost your metabolism and overall well being.
Eat Well, Eat Enough, Eat Often
What, when, and how you eat can have a huge impact on your metabolism—for a variety of reasons.
While cutting calories is an obvious way to lose weight, it’s not always the smartest, or most sustainable. If you consume too few calories, you actually set yourself up for defeat by slowing your metabolism. You need enough calories to fuel your body’s base energy needs—otherwise, your metabolism slows down to conserve precious energy resources. Plus, your body begins to break down muscle tissue for energy, rather than fat, if you are too calorie-deprived. The key is to eat enough to sustain your energy, without overeating, to keep your metabolism burning and your body happily humming along.
Eating a healthy, protein-packed breakfast is one of the best ways to rev up your metabolism each day. First thing in the morning, drink a tall glass of water and have something to eat. If you’re short on time or can’t stomach a full meal, mix a grab-and-go protein shake in your favorite BlenderBottle® shaker cup on your way out the door.
Protein is important for building lean muscle mass, but it’s not the only food that plays a role in metabolism. When possible, opt for organic produce. Not only will it taste better, it may actually help keep your metabolism burning at a healthy rate. A research study out of Canada shows that organochlorides (chemicals found in pesticides, which are used to treat non-organic produce) can disrupt metabolic function.
You’ve probably heard that another way to ensure a speedy metabolism is to eat six small meals a day. While science shows that this is largely a myth, and that total daily quality and quantity of food intake is what truly matters, there’s still a strong argument to be made for spreading your meals throughout the day. For one, frequent eating will help keep your energy stable and consistent. Additionally, if you skip meals, you’re more likely to gorge and make poor food choices when you do finally chow down. Therefore, whether or not eating smaller, more frequent meals specifically boosts your metabolism, it’s still a great way to stay satisfied and stick to healthy eating habits.
Consider Coffee, Tea, and Cold Water
Good news for java lovers—numerous studies (including this one) show that coffee and caffeine stimulate the metabolic rate. This study goes a step further by showing how coffee and caffeine improve performance, as well as metabolism, in endurance athletes. Green tea is also considered a metabolism-booster, as a plant compound contained in the tea, called ECGC, promotes fat burning. Drinking plenty of ice-cold water is another way to torch extra calories, most likely due to the work it takes your body to warm the water to your core temperature. Not sure how much to drink? Click here.
Say Yes to Omega-3s
EPA and DHA are omega-3 fatty acids that help balance blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and increase fat-burning enzymes in your body. Consequently, omega-3s are important for overall health and as a metabolism booster. Some of the best natural sources of omega-3 include seafood (especially salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel), flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. If you’re not a seafood eater, a high-quality fish oil supplement is your best bet. (Pro tip: Pack your supplement pills in the BlenderBottle® ProStak® integrated pill tray to ensure you always have them handy.)
Get Moving and Build Strength
Increasing your body’s energy needs and working to build lean muscle mass both help to increase your metabolism. High-intensity interval training is a great way to maximize the return on your time investment at the gym—you’ll build muscle, burn the most calories, and boost your metabolism, even after you’ve stopped exercising. Not only will your metabolism and your muscle mass benefit from interval training, you’ll also strengthen your heart. Try circuit training, boxing, running, lap swimming, or a spin class for high calorie-burning exercise options.
Working out is important, but dedicated exercise isn’t the only activity that counts when it comes to staying healthy and revving up your body’s calorie-burning capability. Be as active as you can all through the day. If you work a desk job, try to get up at least once an hour and take a lap around the office, drink some water, or use the bathroom. Take a walk when you’re on a long phone call. Opt for the stairs over the elevator, and look for the farthest parking spot from your destination. In nice weather, walk or bike to work or school. Staying sedentary can make your body and mind sluggish, so get up and get moving as much as possible.
Hit the Hay Hard
When you’re sleep deprived, your body burns fewer calories at rest. However, the calories you burn during inactivity account for 60-70 percent of all the calories you burn in a single day. Additionally, lack of sleep disrupts production of critical hormones that control energy use and appetite. When you sleep well and long enough, your metabolism is higher because your body is able to invest more energy in being awake and active. Getting enough quality sleep has a number of surprising benefits and is arguably one of the most important things you can do to maintain overall health—plus, it’s entirely free. So consider sleep a form of no-cost health insurance and a critical metabolism booster, and be sure to clock plenty of Zs!