Every time we eat or drink, we can thank our metabolism for converting all those calories into energy. Our size, gender, and age all factor into our metabolic rate, but there are also ways to independently control its speed. And the faster our metabolism, the more calories we burn off. From early AM workouts to food choices, you can give your metabolism an extra push without too much effort.
Here are a few simple and science-backed ways to get your metabolism pumping in no time:
To keep your metabolism running at full capacity, you need to eat regular, frequent meals. Come breakfast time, the body has already been fasting for hours during sleep and is in need of energy. The prolonged fasting that occurs when you skip breakfast can increase your body’s insulin response, which in turn increases fat storage and weight gain. A healthy breakfast also refuels your body and replenishes the glycogen stores that supply your muscles with immediate energy for the day.
Get Moving in the Morning.
Debating whether to get a workout in or keep hitting the snooze button? An early morning sweat-session will get your metabolism up and running and therefore burning more calories for the rest of the day. Studies show that the type of workout also matters, and in this case slow and steady may not always win the race. While any workout will get blood pumping through your body, firing up your digestive system, interval training is shown to have the most benefits. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of training in which low to moderate intensity intervals are alternated with high intensity intervals. A study Laval University in Canada discovered that the HIIT subjects’ muscle fibers had significantly higher markers for fat oxidation (fat-burning) than those in the steady-state exercise group. HIIT can be applied to running, swimming, or to bodyweight exercises such as squatting and jumping.
Spice Things Up.
Adding certain spices to your diet can help increase metabolism. Cinnamon actually helps move glucose into cells, thereby curbing insulin (the fat-storage hormone) surges after a meal. Nutmeg is high in eugenol, a phytochemical also found in cloves and allspice. New research suggests eugenol may inhibit enzymes involved in glucose metabolism, thereby encouraging fat breakdown. Ginger is loaded with capsaicin, the same compound that puts the heat in hot chilies and peppers. Studies have found that capsaicin may temporarily kick the metabolism into high gear, resulting in increased calorie burn. A close relative to ginger is tumeric. This spice’s yellow pigment comes from curcumin, a phytochemical that directly counteracts inflammation in the body. Curbing inflammation improves the body’s receptiveness to leptin, a key metabolism-signaling hormone.
Drink More Water!
Drinking enough water is a simple way to speed up digestion. Water is required by a majority of the digestive processes taking place in our bodies. If you’re even just a tad thirsty (or dehydrated) you run the risk of slowing your metabolism. Drinking cold water actually sparks your metabolism because your body has to work harder to heat it up to its natural temperature. If you want to hydrate with something more exciting than plain water, studies show that green tea bumps up the metabolic rate. Drinking water infused with fruit or herbs (available daily at the UC Davis Dining Commons!) is another way to mix it up when it comes to staying hydrated.
An easy way to calculate how much water you need:
- Take your body weight in kilograms (divide your weight in pounds by 2.2)
- Multiply by 30, this is how many milliliters of water you need each day.
Photo: BKR bottles, made in San Francisco
Eat foods labeled “Whole Grain”
Complex carbs and fiber-rich foods help to speed up your metabolism. A study mentioned in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggested that eating whole foods as opposed to refined foods can significantly increase thermogenesis and thus burn about 50% more calories compared to when you consume refined foods. Whole food requires more work to break it down when compared to refined foods because whole food maintains a higher nutrient density. This includes higher protein, B vitamin, mineral, fiber and phytochemical content. Not only do these characteristics of the whole grain result in increased calorie burn, but it also provides several disease fighting, weight controlling, and hunger combating benefits.
Eat More, Smaller Meals.
Didn’t think you’d see the phrase “eat more” on this list did you? According to Ryann Miller, Registered Dietitian at UC Davis Health and Counseling Services, if you divide your day up into thirds and try to eat an even amount in every third throughout the day, your metabolism won’t have a chance to take a break. Another useful tip is to try to eat smaller bites throughout the day instead of a few large meals. A great way to do this is to incorporate some healthy snacks into your diet. This helps you decrease portion size. Spacing out food intake means you won’t be starving at any point in the day, and less likely to make that fast food run on the way home.
Will you try any of these tips? Like this post and leave a comment below!