One of the questions we are most often asked is how to boost metabolism. Because metabolism is basically the way your body converts calories from the food that you eat into energy, most people want to speed up their metabolism so they can burn more calories. After all, who doesn’t want to eat their favorite foods and efficiently burn it all up so that it doesn’t end up as increased body fat?
Here are five simple steps that can help fire up your metabolism. Following even just one of these can improve your energy levels and metabolism; do all five and you’ll reap maximum metabolism benefits!
1. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is already considered a nutritional powerhouse thanks to its potent disease-fighting antioxidants. It also has the potential to boost metabolism and create a small weight loss thanks to antioxidants called catechins (ECGC and polyphenols). Some research indicates that it’s the EGCG—the most abundant catechin in green tea—in combination with caffeine that is responsible for the metabolism boost and that people who drink green tea burn up to an extra 70 to 100 calories per day. Several studies, including one published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that green tea has metabolism-boosting properties and fat-oxidizing properties that can help promote weight loss and stave off weight gain.
To reap metabolism-boosting benefits, aim to drink five to six cups of tea per day (tea cups are smaller than regular cups, about 4 ounces a cup). Sip tea throughout the day—you can make your green tea iced or drink it warm.
You may enjoy getting your tea from:
• Skinny Tea Lemonade
• Avocado and Apple Green Smoothie
• You can even use green tea for sautéing (simply freeze it in ice cubes and use in pan as needed) or in dressings like the one in this Green Goddess Edamame Salad.
2. Spice Up Your Meals
If you’re a fan of spicy peppers, from serranos to jalepenos, crushed red to habaneros, you’re in metabolism luck! Capsaicin, the chemical in peppers that gives them their heat, is also responsible for boosting metabolism. It’s theorized that metabolism increases because hot peppers literally heat you up—for every half degree that body temperature rises in Fahrenheit, metabolism is estimated to increase roughly 7 percent. Sprinkling red pepper on a meal can be sustainable and helpful over time, especially when paired with exercise and healthy eating.
Try adding a pinch of cayenne pepper to your favorite soup or stews or dice up a jalapeño and add to guacamole for an extra kick. Although adding a little hot pepper to your meals every now and then probably won’t help so much, if you make a habit of spicing up your meals daily over time it certainly can help!
A few ideas to help you turn up the heat in your metabolic engine:
• Huevos Rancheros
• Sunny Side Up Stuffed Eggplant
• Festive Guacamole Dip
3. Strength Train the Largest Muscle Groups
If there’s one thing that’s for certain when it comes to revving the metabolism, it’s that strength training is one of the only sure-fire ways to do it. Muscle requires more calories to exist than body fat, so the more lean muscle tissue you have, the more calories you burn. As we get older, if we don’t strength train, our metabolism automatically slows as we lose lean muscle tissue—surprisingly, this happens for men in their mid-twenties and women around age 30.
One of the best exercises for boosting the metabolism is walking lunges. It works the entire lower body as well as the core. By utilizing large muscle groups, a large percentage of the body’s muscles are activated and strengthened.
Another oldie but goodie? Push-ups. It works the chest, back, arms and abs, so it covers a lot of ground (well, body) when it comes to building muscle!
4. Include Protein at All Meals
Lean protein is believed to play several roles in body-weight regulation. In addition to helping you feel satisfied and preventing peaks and valleys in energy (the more energy you have, the more active you can be and the more calories you’ll be able to burn through activity), lean protein also has the potential to boost metabolism. While all foods create a thermic effect and will slightly raise your metabolism, eating protein provides a larger boost compared to eating carbohydrates or fats. And remember, eating enough protein will ensure you’ll maintain and build muscle tissue. Plus, for the most part, you can’t go wrong by selecting lean choices of protein like chicken or turkey breast, most kinds of fish and seafood, eggs, egg whites, low- and nonfat dairy products, and lean red meat.
Here are a few healthy, protein-rich ideas:
• Crispy Chicken ParmesanCrispy Chicken Parmesan
• Not Yo’ Mama’s Fish Sticks, But Taste Like They Are!
• Meatless Lasagna
5. Add High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to Your Exercise Repertoire
To maximize fat burning, interval training is one of the best things you can do. When you are doing cardiovascular exercise, HIIT keeps the body guessing by constantly alternating faster, more intense exercise periods with slower, shorter recovery paces. The body is forced to continually pump up the intensity and it helps exercisers to burn more calories and get in shape faster than if you exercise at a slower pace. The great news is that no matter what exercise you’re doing—cycling, jogging or swimming, you can do interval training. The body works harder and burns more calories after exercise is finished, too.
• While jogging or cycling, try sprinting at regular intervals for 30 seconds.
• When swimming or walking, pump up the intensity and go as fast as you can for a minute, then rest for two minutes and complete another interval.