12 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism

Photo by Jennifer Giffune
More than 34 percent of adults in the United States are obese according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In the past 20 years, these rates have skyrocketed to the point that we can call it an obesity epidemic. This has led to a multibillion-dollar diet industry selling the promise of weight loss. A sluggish metabolism is usually identified as the culprit.
Metabolism is the rate that the body burns energy (calories). As you age, your metabolism can drop as much as 25-30 percent. Not wanting to give in and gain weight yearly people search for a miracle that will boost metabolism but there is no quick fix. There are actions you can take to ignite your metabolic rate and promote life-long weight loss.
To get started, have a physical. Why? To check whether the thyroid is working – it sets the body’s metabolic rate. If there is a problem, there are medications available to help. A PCP will also look for other underlying health issues that may cause weight gain.
Once you get the clean bill of health, start accepting what cannot be changed. Metabolism decreases with age. Also, some people are simply born with a fast metabolism, and some are not. Men tend to have higher metabolic rates compared to women. So accept these limitations, but don’t let them define you. Get started now boosting your metabolism!
1. Get Off the Diet Rollercoaster
You start a restrictive diet and lose weight. Then gain weight …then diet…lose …gain. Every time you lose, less comes off. Every time you gain, you reach a new high weight. These diets are restrictive; so your body breaks down muscle; leading to lower metabolism and weight gain. It is a vicious cycle and needs to end. Boost your metabolism by choosing balanced, portion controlled meals.
2. Discover Your Shape
People come in different shapes, most commonly pear and apple. Pear means you have a small/normal upper body with large fat stores on hips & abdomen = slow weight loss. Apple means fat is stored around the stomach, leaving arms and legs normal size; meaning greater risk of heart disease.
3. Start Strength Training
To maintain one pound of muscle, your body burns six calories versus a pound of fat requiring only two calories. So, replace fat with muscle by doing floor exercises and weights increasing metabolism for the next 12-14 hours.
4. Fidget
Tapping toes and fingers is known as Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). It is a highly effective way to boost metabolism. Scientists have found that you can burn up to 350 calories a day by NEAT.
5. Eat Heat
Current research shows that a tablespoon/day of hot pepper can bump up metabolism. The secret is a naturally existing plant chemical called capsaicin that ignites brown fat resulting in up to 90 more calories a day being burned.
6. Eat Probiotics
Recent studies in Britain have show that weight loss was significantly improved in participants that added daily probiotics. Don’t settle for a pill if you can eat yogurt and kefir because they have probiotics and conjugated linoleic acid (a fat burner).
7. Exercise
High intensity aerobic workouts (e.g. jogging, swimming), boost metabolism. Some recent studies found that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) boosted metabolism for up to 36 hours after working out. An HIIT workout is ten rounds of 30 seconds high intensity exercise then 90 seconds low intensity.
8. Hydrate
Water breaks down calories, so even mild dehydration will slow things down. Drink 64 ounces of water/day; fresh fruit and vegetables contain water too, so eat up!
9. Enjoy a Cup of Tea
Green tea has a naturally existing plant chemical – Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) that boosts metabolism. Drink 2-4 cups of green tea/day and watch your metabolic rate rise.
10. Eat Regularly
Have a meal or snack every 2- 4 hours. Your metabolic rate slows down between meals but this isn’t a license to overindulge. Make healthy food choices and practice portion control. Daily, have two servings of lean protein (think chicken). It takes more calories to breakdown protein than carbs or fat; don’t skip the carbs and fat altogether, because they offer many nutrients your body needs.
11. Sleep Well
If you don’t go into REM sleep (dreaming) you will have lower metabolism; get 5-7 hours of sleep nightly.
12. Relax
Stress makes your body release cortisol, a chemical that slows metabolism. Learn stress relief techniques. Also, a good belly laugh can increase calorie burning for up to 15 minutes after laughing.
Despite the inability to stop aging or change our genetic makeup, it is not a given that your metabolic rate has to grind to a halt. There are a great many lifelong actions you can take to bump up your metabolism. What are you waiting for?
Jennifer Giffune, R.D., L.D.N. is a freelance author, professional speaker and nutrition counselor. On the last Wednesday of each month, Jennifer can be heard on 89.5 WSKB radio on the “Wake up Wednesday” Morning Show. To make an appointment with Jennifer at Mercy Medical Group, call 786-1500.

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