Close up of vegetables on forks

How to speed up your metabolism & lose weight

Your metabolism plays a huge part in the every day maintenance of your body. In a nut shell, your metabolism breaks down food and turns it into energy your body needs to function properly. It also helps you burn calories and lose fat. Without a properly functioning metabolism, a lot can go wrong in your body, which is why it’s so important to lead a healthy lifestyle in order to maintain a regular metabolic rate. Luckily for us, more studies are being done to find out how we can boost metabolism naturally. Turns out, there are a lot of foods, exercises and techniques that can help us not only maintain but boost our metabolism, giving us a better chance at staying fit and keeping off the weight. Read on to discover the best ones for you!

Drink Green Tea

Green Tea

If teas were ranked according to health benefits, green tea would be at the very top of the list, a hard A+ in a long list of other teas. Green tea carries many amazing healthy qualities, thanks not only to its high anti-oxidant supply but its EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) supply as well, a chemical that has significant positive health effects on the body’s cardiovascular and metabolic systems. Specifically, it’s EGCG’s active ingredient, catechin, which helps metabolize food faster. Catechins speed up not only the fat oxidation process but thermogenesis as well, your body’s energy production. As a result, your body ends up burning more calories than usual. But one cup of green tea a day won’t cut it. In order to increase your energy expenditure by 90 calories, you’ll have to drink five cups of green tea per day. Luckily for us, green tea tastes great, with or without added ingredients!

Don’t Forget Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s are healthy fatty acids that are monumental for your body’s overall health and well-being. They aren’t produced naturally by the body, however, and therefore need to be consumed via food or a supplement. Omega-3s are found in abundance in fish like salmon and tuna, and are a great source for boosting your metabolism.  Omega-3s help by reducing our insulin levels, which contribute to fat being stored in our bodies (as opposed to being burned). In a recent study, omega-3s were also found to help fight leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that helps regulate your metabolism; omega-3s help leptin receptor genes function properly. By doing so, leptins are able to complete their jobs effectively and help ward of metabolic syndrome, a rather serious disorder that is fueled by leptin resistance and an unhealthy diet, and can result in high cholestrol and blood pressure. If you’re not a big fan of fish, try omega-3 fatty acid supplements or flaxseed oil as an alternative.

Continue To Work Out When Your PMS Symptoms Strike

Push ups or press ups exercise by young woman. Girl working out on grass crossfit strength training in the glow of the morning sun against a white sky with copyspace. Mixed race Asian Caucasian model.

This one might be a harder concept to wrap your head around. Work out when I feel like crap? Are you kidding me? 

I get it, once the first wave of PMS arrives, it’s hard not to want to just curl up under a blanket and sleep away the pain. Our energy fades and once the cramps kick again, even walking up a flight of stairs can be tiring (anyone else or just me?) But as it turns out, working out during the two weeks after ovulation and right before the start of your period is actually very good for burning additional fat. According to a study done at the University of Adelaide in Australia, women burn 30% more fat during this time period, thanks to high estrogen and progesterone levels promoting fat supply as energy to be burned.

Monitor Your Iron Levels

Iron is one of the most essential minerals in the body as it helps oxygen be delivered to important organs like the heart, liver, kidneys and skin. A lack of iron leads to fatigue and loss of energy, which not only affects brain function and your immune system’s ability to fight infection, but your metabolic rate as well. Your metabolism will slow down without the necessary iron needed to survive, and can lead to a deficient thyroid and floundering cellular function. Women have to be especially conscientious of their iron intake as we experience iron loss when we have our periods.  Load up on iron-rich foods like spinach, broccoli, beans, oysters, mussels, fish and poultry to keep your iron supply at a normal level.

Consume Protein Regularly

According to a recent study released in the Journal of the American Medical Association, protein can add lean body mass and give your metabolism a boost. Lean body mass burns more energy than fat tissues do. It’s also digested more slowly in the body than carbohydrates and fat, which means your body uses more energy (i.e. calories) to absorb these foods. Lean protein is the healthier option over fattier red meats, so stick to chicken, fish and turkey for your daily protein requirements.

Eat Organic Foods Whenever Possible

Fresh market fruits and vegetables

Organic foods are foods that are pesticide-free. It’s alarming to think that we separate foods into different categories based on how many toxic ingredients are in them, but sadly that’s the case nowadays. We assume the foods we buy at the grocery store are healthy and fresh but if you stop and inspect the labels, you’ll realize that many of foods available in stores aren’t as healthy as they appear. Unless labeled “certified organic”, don’t expect the food to be pesticide-free. Pesticides can be seriously detrimental to your body and even hinder your metabolism. Fresh, organic foods without toxins in them allow your thyroid to run smoothly, which in return, keeps your metabolism running at its proper speed. Food for thought!

Include Strength Training In Your Workout Routine

Building muscle mass through strength training is a great form of exercise that also gives your metabolism a big boost! Strength training done twice a week for 30 minutes at a time can increase your resting metabolic rate by 100 calories a day within four months. With added muscle mass, you’ll boost your resting metabolic rate, which makes your body burn more calories, long after you’ve finished your work out. Gary Hunter, a PhD professor and researcher of Exercise Physiology at the University of Alabama, confirmed the power of strength training when he stated, “strength training a couple of times a week can reverse 50% of the metabolism slow down that comes with age.” Looks like it’s time to get my dumbbells out from under the bed!

Try Interval Training For Optimal Results

Interval training is great for switching things up when you feel yourself getting into a lull on the Stairmaster. It adds a nice kick to your workout and to your metabolism as well: In a recent Australian study, researchers discovered that a group of women who performed a 20 minute workout, consisting of 8 second sprints followed by 12 seconds of rest, lost six times more body fat than the group that followed a 40- minute cardio program at a constant intensity of 60% of their maximum heart rate. Those are pretty significant results. HIIT causes a fat-burning response in the muscles, and you end up consuming more oxygen and burning more energy as a result. This means you can exercise with a HIIT workout for a shorter time and still get the same health benefits you would with a longer workout!

Try a similar workout to what the ladies did in the study above: Run for eight seconds, then walk for 12. Repeat for 20 minutes if you feel yourself physically capable. If that’s too quick of a pace, sprint for a full minute before walking at a steady rate for a minute and a half.

Perform Several Shorter Workouts Throughout The Day

Running

According to a study published in the scientific journal Nature, small bursts of activity throughout the day can effectively help rev up your metabolism. Yes! So the little things do count.

Something as simple as getting up once an hour throughout your work day and walking around the office can help give your metabolism the jump start it needs to burn more calories. If you normally have one hour-long workout a day, try splitting it into two shorter sessions throughout the day. For example, go for a run in the morning and work on your strength training in the evening. Something as simple as staggering your workout throughout the day can help your body burn an extra couple of hundred calories.

Never Skip Breakfast

Breakfast is the meal people most often skip, but as it turns out, it’s actually the meal most important for weight loss and your metabolism. Your metabolism slows done when you’re asleep because your body is less active throughout the night. In the morning, however, a healthy breakfast is needed to kick start thermogenesis, your body’s metabolic process for breaking down food. Your metabolism will be on a late start if your first meal is at lunch, which is why even a simple breakfast of oatmeal and toast can benefit you throughout the day. Without a proper meal in the morning, you’ll be more prone to binging on high-sugar foods in order to get some quick energy, which will lead to an energy crash shortly after. This unhealthy pattern can be easily avoided with a nutritious breakfast before you head off on your day in the morning. An ongoing study being done by the National Weight Control Registry proves this theory by revealing that 78% of the people in their study who kept off their weight ate breakfast every single morning.

Snacking Is Actually Good For You

Many people think that in order to lose weight, a person must severely cut back their calorie intake. This in fact, actually has the opposite effect on your body. It causes your body to go into starvation mode, where it tries to save its fat stores and uses lean muscle to provide it with the necessary calories needed instead.

The safe and healthy way to boost your metabolism and curb your appetite at the same time is by having small, nutritious snacks throughout the day. Instead of only eating three large meals, enjoy healthy snacks in between your main meals in order to avoid getting cravings, and control how much you ingest for your bigger dishes. Having a few snacks will not only keep your metabolism running at a normal rate, but it will keep your blood sugar levels steady and prevent you from indulging in sugary foods (which leads to a spike in insulin and an eventual energy crash). Good examples of nutritious snacks are hard-boiled eggs, muesli, apples and granola with yogurt.

Get Your Beauty Sleep

Beauty Sleep

We’ve all heard it before that sleep is vital for good health. But did you know a good night’s sleep can also help regulate your metabolism and appetite? According to a study done by a group of Stanford University School of Medicine researchers, a lack of sleep leads to uneven levels of leptin and ghrelin, metabolic hormones that trigger appetite. The study revealed that those people who slept less than eight hours a night experienced an increase in their body mass index.

Don’t forget the drinks

It goes without saying that water is the single most important drink to consume on a daily basis for optimal health. Your metabolism will slow down if you’re even slightly dehydrated so try to drink between 6-8 glasses of water every day. Fill your glass with ice cubes to kick start your metabolism and burn more calories in order to warm up your body, or drink green tea for its extra metabolic benefits.

Surprisingly, both coffee and milk are also great drinks for boosting your metabolism. Coffee has been proven to significantly raise the body’s metabolic rate (by an average of 16% when compared to those who drink decaf). Stick to black coffee if you can; adding any extra ingredients like cream and sugar will add several grams of unnecessary fat to your drink.

Milk is one of the recommended dairy options to consume if you’re looking to boost your metabolism. The calcium found in milk fuels your body to burn more fat. It is recommended that women have three servings of dairy (low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt) and between 1,000- 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day (1,500 milligrams is recommended for pregnant women.)