It’s the set of life-sustaining chemical transformations within the
cells of living organisms. It’s such a big concept that you might
believe you’re at the mercy of it. Well, you are! It’s thermodynamics at
work, after all. But there are a bunch of simple — even easy — things
you can do to boost your metabolism and make your body run more
efficiently. Make tomorrow a great day by learning from the common
metabolism mistakes you probably made today.
you're chronically sleep deprived, don’t be surprised if you gain a few
pounds without eating a morsel of extra food. “A lack of sleep can
cause several metabolic problems,” says nutritionist Seth Santoro. “It
can cause you to burn fewer calories, lack appetite control and
experience an increase in cortisol levels, which stores fat.” Lack of
sufficient sleep — which experts say is 7 to 9 hours a night for most
people — also leads to impaired glucose tolerance, a.k.a. your body's
ability to utilize sugar for fuel. “We all have those less-than-adequate
nights of sleep,” says nutritionist Lisa Jubilee.
“But if it's a regular thing, you're better off lengthening your
night's sleep than working out, if fat loss or weight maintenance is
Jubilee, one of the best and cheapest ways to give your metabolism a
jolt is to drink water (she suggests 20 to 32 ounces) shortly after
waking. Why? During sleep, your body’s metabolic function slowed, and
unless you woke up in the middle of the night to swig some water, it
didn’t receive any fluids. Jubilee suggests completely rehydrating
before stressing your body with any other food or drink. “My clients who
have implemented this report less bloating, more energy and a smaller
appetite,” she says. Her motto for getting your inner furnace stoked and
ready for the day: “Rehydrate, then caffeinate!”
of studies indicate that caffeine can boost your metabolism in the AM.
But nutritionist Amy Shapiro says that guzzling coffee and other
caffeinated drinks all day could actually work against you. Caffeine
is a natural appetite suppressant. If you’re constantly consuming it,
you may not eat much — or realize how hungry you really are — until you
get home for dinner. “Not eating enough throughout the day can make your
metabolism sluggish,” she says. “By the time you eat dinner, instead of
immediately using that food for energy, your body is aggressively
storing it as fat, just in case it will be deprived again.”
we sleep about eight hours for every 24. Most people spend another
seven to ten hours sitting at their desk. That means most of us spend
the overwhelming majority of our time sedentary. Our bodies weren't
designed for this level of inactivity — most of humans’ evolutionary
history involved being active, searching for food and fuel. Jubilee says
that one way to burn more calories daily is to stand more and sit less.
She cites a British study which found that standing at work burned 50
more calories per hour than sitting. If that doesn’t sound like a lot,
consider this: If you stand for just three hours of your day, in one
year you’d expend more than 30,000 extra calories — which amounts to
about 8 lbs of fat! Another good office habit: Set a phone timer to
remind you get up every hour and walk around, even for a few minutes,
dictate how our body utilizes the energy we give it,” says Jubilee.
“Between our reproductive, thyroid and growth hormones, appetite,
insulin and hunger hormones
— leptin and ghrelin — our bodies have to perform a tricky balancing
act to keep us lean, energized and viable reproductive beings.” Those
tasks have become much more difficult because of the hormone residues we
consume via cage-raised foods. If you want to give your metabolism a
leg up, Jubilee says, switch to organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised beef,
eggs and dairy products, thereby avoiding those nasty hormones at
eating enough calories in a day is an easy way to slow your
metabolism,” says Santoro. “It’s a common mistake people make.” When you
don’t consume enough calories, your body switches into starvation mode,
and your brain tells your body to store fat. This can increase cortisol
levels, leading to belly-fat storage, which comes with health risks.
a large dinner, especially too close to bedtime, can be detrimental to
your metabolism,” says Shapiro. “It’s likely to throw off your inner
clock and make you not hungry in the morning, which can ultimately lead
to weight gain.” It’s at this point in the day that people are more
likely to have an alcoholic beverage, which can bedevil your metabolism
even more. “When a person drinks, acetate is formed,” says Santoro. “The
body spends time trying to detoxify itself rather than burn calories.”
He adds that drinking alcohol can impair protein synthesis and anabolic
(muscle-building) hormones. Shapiro suggests that you prepare for busy
or unpredictable days by packing healthy snacks to keep you from overeating or making unhealthful food choices.
salt has cachet, especially when paired with chocolate or caramel. What
it doesn’t have is iodine, a key element that gives your thyroid gland
what it needs to get the job done. The thyroid gland helps to regulate
your metabolism. If you don’t have enough iodine, it’s unable to produce
thyroid hormones, and your metabolism can grind to a screeching halt.
Most table salt is iodized; just a half-teaspoon will provide 100% of
your RDA for iodine. You can also eat seaweed, cod, shrimp, and eggs,
all of which are great sources of iodine.
you’re reading this, you’re almost certainly a mammal. It follows that
you’re also an endotherm. This means that you can set heat free from
within your own body to regulate your body temperature, rather than
relying solely on the ambient temperature. It’s not just a neat trick
common to both mammals and birds — it also burns calories. So turn down
your thermostat and let your body do the heavy lifting. Researchers at
the National Institutes of Health found that participants who slept in
bedrooms cooled to 66°F for a month doubled the amount of brown adipose
tissue they burned. Brown adipose tissue is a type of fat that burns
calories rather than stores them. "Brown fat becomes more active in
cooler temperatures to help keep us warm," explains Aaron Cypess, MD, an
endocrinologist at the NIH. The take-home? Turning down your heat,
sleeping in cooler temps, and spending time outdoors is going to help to
stoke your metabolism, so chill out to get lean.
it’s true that eating too many refined carbs can get in the way of your
health and weight-loss goals, eating too few can have a similar effect.
That’s because when we exercise, our muscles need carbohydrates’ stores
of glycogen for energy; if they don’t get enough, they can’t grow.
That’s bad because the more muscle you can get and keep, the more
calories you’ll burn at rest. But that’s not all. With your muscles
starved of energy, you won’t be able to exercise as intensely as you
otherwise would. That means fewer calories burned while active. Have a
serving (about the size of once cupped palm) of oatmeal, sweet potato or
brown rice prior to working out.
feels great to work out in an efficient amount of time, but when it
comes to cranking your metabolism, haste makes waste. That’s because
there are big metabolism-boosting benefits that come from the eccentric
(a.k.a. lowering) aspects of these movements. Eccentric movements damage
muscles more than the act of lifting them. They require more effort
from your body to repair and demand more caloric energy to do so. Greek
researchers demonstrated that women who performed one weekly strength
workout that focused on eccentric movement increased their resting
energy expenditure and fat burning by 5 and 9%, respectively, over a
period of eight weeks.
A review of research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), particularly those contained in walnuts,
could enhance the activity of certain genes that control fat burning,
meaning that a nutty snacker may burn more calories throughout the day
than one who grabs another type of lower cal snack. One to 1.5 ounces
amounts to a small handful of walnuts. Have a snack of this size once
daily for better burning.
Researchers in Australia found that when women performed a 20-minute HIIT workout
three times per week, they shed nearly 6 pounds more than those who
exercised for 40 minutes three times a week at a steady pace. Why?
Researchers explain that while high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
is of shorter duration than a regular cardio workout, it results in
greater post-exercise oxygen consumption, meaning that you continue
burning calories for a period of time afterward.
University scientists have suggested that getting out and about in the
early morning sunlight could help to regulate your circadian rhythm.
That controls the many functions your body performs, including how much
and well you sleep, how much you eat, and how much energy you burn. Try
stepping outside for a jog or walk first thing in the a.m. Studies have
shown that people who are up-and-at-’em first thing have a lower BMI
compared to those who take their sunshine later in the day.
to do some simple math? Figure out how many calories you need to
achieve your desired weight and evenly divide that number by the 3, 4 or
5 meals and snacks you eat per day. Aim for each of your meals to be
roughly this size. Why? Research from John Moores University in
Liverpool found that women who fluctuated between eating low- and
high-calorie meals were less happy with their bodies than those whose
plates contained a similar number of calories from meal to meal. But
it's not just a fluctuating size that can derail your weight-loss goals.
A Hebrew University study from 2012 found that mice that were fed
high-fat foods sporadically gained more weight than mice that ate a
similar diet on a regular schedule. Experts suspect that eating at the
same times every day trains the body to burn more calories between
Canadian study has found that chemicals in pesticides called
organochlorines can mess with your body's energy-burning process and
make it more difficult to lose weight. The researchers found that
dieters who ate the most toxins experienced a greater-than-normal dip in
and had a harder time losing weight. Dr. Whitney S. Goldner of the
University of Nebraska Medical Center has noted that there is growing
evidence for a link between exposure to pesticides and thyroid problems.
Your move is to buy organic fruits and veggies whenever possible.
have shown that mice that have had sustained exposure to chemical
preservatives develop significant abdominal weight gain, early insulin
resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Limiting your exposure to dietary
toxins, sugars, refined carbohydrates and processed foods will help keep
your metabolism revved.
your thyroid is dragging, your metabolism will slow down and may even
become dysfunctional. Drinking fluoridated and chlorinated water
supplies have been linked to dysfunction in metabolic processes — both
chemicals interfere with normal thyroid function. Drink filtered water
come to rely on various medications to deal with lifestyle diseases.
For many people, these medications do for them what bold lifestyle
changes have not. For others, drugs for diabetes, cholesterols and high
blood pressure have been taken too soon and for too long. That’s bad
because in they can interfere with critical metabolic processes, which
dramatically reduce the expenditure of energy. It’s well worth talking
to your doctor about what can be achieved with non-pharmaceutical
interventions, such diet, exercise and meditation.
one sounds counterintuitive, but bear with us. When you don’t
sufficiently fuel your body, it can switch into starvation mode. In
effect, your metabolic rate slows and your body clings to the remaining
fuel. That’s because in our evolutionary past — before the advent of
agriculture — food was often scarce and the body adapted to conserve
fuel. Even if you’re cutting calories and creating a calorie deficit,
your best move is to eat often and in a way that enables you to be
active without getting exhausted.
is a one-stop metabolism shop. It fills you up, making you less likely
to forage for less metabolism-boosting food. It can rev post-meal
calorie burn by as much as 35%, according to research, and it helps you
grow muscle, which is like a calorie-incinerating body cloak that’s hard
at work blasting calories while you’re at rest. It ought to be a
component in every meal. Eat protein-rich foods such as fish, egg
whites, lean meat or nuts daily.
D. Wild salmon has plenty of it. In fact, you can get 90% of your
recommended daily value (400 IU) in a 3.5-ounce serving of this
delicious fish. Don’t have a taste for salmon? That’s alright, alright,
alright: Go all McConaughey and take your shirt off. Exposing your full
torso to the sun for at least 30 minutes will produce approximately
plays a key role in regulating the way your body metabolizes.
Specifically, it determines whether you burn calories or sport them as a
tire. According to research conducted at the Nutrition Institute at the
University of Tennessee at Knoxville, a diet that's high in calcium
could help you burn more fat. Consume dairy, Greek yogurt and these calcium-rich foods.
a carb is complex, the body has to work a little harder to break it
down. White bread, pasta and rice are broken down more easily because
the complex carbohydrates have been taken out of them and their carb
content has been refined. The result? A slower metabolism. Refined carbs
don't offer much nutritional value in the first place, so you’re way
better off choosing whole-wheat breads, pasta and brown rice.
sugary foods is a great idea. Why? Sugar creates a spike in blood
glucose levels and is very quickly absorbed into your system. Both of
these mechanisms are putting the brakes on your metabolism. Replace
candy, chocolate and ice cream with fresh fruit for weight loss. It will help to satisfy your sweet tooth without causing a spike in your glucose levels.
news, folks: When you have an alcoholic drink, you burn less fat. What
fat you do burn, you burn more slowly than usual. That’s because the
alcohol is used as fuel instead. Quaffing a couple of martinis can
reduce your body's fat-burning ability by up to 73%! That’s a scientific
finding that should leave you shaken and stirred.