Struggling to shed those last 10 pounds? Fitness progress not happening as quickly as you’d want? Or maybe you feel lethargic and tired, and it hasn’t even hit lunchtime yet? If that’s the case, revving your metabolism naturally may be the answer to your prayers.
But first, what does metabolism mean?
Metabolism is the biochemical process in which your body utilizes fuel for energy. The rate at which the body converts calories into energy is known as the metabolic rate. An individual’s metabolic rate can be affected by a variety of factors, including age, gender, genetics, calorie intake, hormones, body composition and more.
If you suffer from a sluggish metabolic rate, this may cause weight gain, tiredness, and impaired physical performance. To perk things up, there are many simple dietary and lifestyle habits you can incorporate to boost that metabolism.
1. EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE
Although any physical activity can provide health benefits, HIIT Training with short bursts of activity has been shown to increase your metabolism post-workout, meaning you will still burn calories at a higher rate after the workout is done (1). Burning more total calories per day will result in an increased fat burn.
In addition to HIIT training, heavy weight-lifting can also indirectly increase the metabolic rate, due to its active role in muscle synthesis. As muscle is a metabolically active tissue, having more muscle translates to a higher metabolism which means you can burn more calories without lifting a finger (2).
2. INCREASE PROTEIN INTAKE IN EVERY MEAL
When you consume a meal, your body exerts energy in the form of calories in the process of digesting the food. This process is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). However, it is important to note that not all food is created equal!
Research studies suggest that protein has a higher TEF; 3 times higher than fat, and 2 times higher than carbohydrates (3). This means that when you consume a protein-rich meal, your body works extra hard to digest it, which translates to a higher calorie burn. As protein requires a longer digestion time to carbohydrates and fat, this means that the metabolic rate will be raised for a longer period after consuming a meal.
In order to enhance this effect throughout the day, consume at least 20g of protein per meal. Not only will this boost your metabolic rate, but it will also help you feel fuller for longer, reduce muscle loss, and prevent you from overeating.
3. SPICE THINGS UP
If you can handle the heat, adding peppers to your dishes can burn 10 calories more per meal (4). This is because peppers are rich in a compound called capsaicin, which has been shown to boost the TEF at moderate doses (5).
Although 10 calories a meal doesn’t seem like much, using it in combination with other metabolism-boosting techniques will augment the effects.
In addition to spicy peppers, cinnamon is also another metabolism supercharger. This is due to an increase in the thermogenic effect. Cinnamon can also help curb sugar cravings, and improve blood glucose control - all important for steady weight loss.
4. DRINK COLD WATER
Just like boiling water in a kettle uses energy, your body burns calories in order to warm water to body temperature. Thus, drinking cold water will increase your metabolic rate by thermogenesis (6). It is suggested that drinking 2l of water per day can boost calorie burn by 400 kJ per day.
Not only does water boost your metabolic rate, but it can also improve satiety, which can reduce total food intake. Drinking a glass of water half an hour before mealtime can reduce your food intake by 13% (7). Additionally, water is required to maintain muscle stores amongst an array of cellular functions. Keep hydrated!
5. STAY ACTIVE THROUGHOUT THE DAY
Whether you use a standing desk at work, take the steps and not the elevator, or park further away to get in more steps, being on your feet can really help boost your resting metabolic rate. In fact, standing for a few hours per day instead of sitting can burn an extra 174 calories per day (8). Utilise your lunch break to walk, even if it is just for 10 minutes. Anything that will increase your heart rate will increase your metabolic rate.
Charging your metabolism can simply be done by adding in small lifestyle and dietary changes, in order to promote long-term health and weight maintenance.