Metabolism is the process that converts food into energy. It determines the rate that your body burns calories and therefore, affects your weight.
It is easy to blame a slow metabolism for being overweight. In most instances, poor nutrition and lack of exercise are the main causes of unwanted pounds. Are you consuming too many calories, eating processed foods or not exercising? These are some of the lifestyle questions to ask yourself before pointing the finger at a sluggish metabolism.
Some medical conditions such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease, and certain medications (for depression and mental illness) can reduce metabolism and cause weight gain. However, these are rare cases.
There are many factors that affect your metabolic rate, some of which are within your control. Here are 7 ways to increase your metabolism and burn more calories.
1. Resistance training
The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is and the more calories you burn. Muscle even burns calories while you are at rest!
Besides building muscle, resistance training is also important for preventing muscle loss (and the resulting metabolism slow down) that occurs due to aging.
Make sure you follow a resistance training program that’s progressive to achieve maximum results.
Check out these muscle building workouts that can be done at home or in the gym:
If you don’t fancy joining a gym, resistance training can be done at home with a set of adjustable dumbbells, resistance bands or your bodyweight.
Bodyweight exercises are excellent for boosting metabolism, gaining muscle and losing body fat. They can be done at home, in the gym and outdoors (playground, beach, etc).
Here are some incredible bodyweight workouts for men and women of all fitness levels:
For busy mums who want to get back into shape with short resistance training workouts from the comfort of their homes, this could be what you need:
2. Eat small, frequent meals
Take a look at your eating habits. Are you skipping meals or cutting calories drastically?
Your metabolism slows down when you go too long between meals. Insufficient calorie intake can reduce your metabolism by 15-25% and cause your body to burn muscle and hold on to fat.
Eating 5-6 small meals per day keeps your metabolism fired up and prevents over eating.
3. Eat breakfast
People who skip breakfast are sabotaging their metabolism and usually end up eating more in the later part of the day.
After an overnight fast, breakfast is the most important meal to jumpstart your metabolism. It supplies the body with nutrition and energy to undertake activities for the day.
A healthy, satiating breakfast should include lean protein and fiber, such as fruits, oatmeal, eggs and yogurt.
Aim to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night.
Lack of sleep has adverse effects on your metabolism and energy level. It also increases cravings for carbs and sweets, leading to weight gain.
Our bodies are made up mostly of water. Lack of hydration affects bodily functions so your metabolism slows down as well.
Drink at least 8 glasses of water each day.
Your body is dehydrated by the time you feel thirsty. So, don’t wait till you are thirsty to drink.
6. Lean protein
Protein has the highest thermic effect out of all the macronutrients. This means it requires more energy to digest protein than fat or carbohydrate. Protein keeps you satiated and is essential for building muscle.
Choose lean sources of protein such as fish, chicken breast, turkey breast, lean red meat and egg whites.
So, including some protein at every meal can give a boost to your metabolism.
7. Metabolism boosting foods
Some foods such as hot pepper (spicy foods) and green tea have been shown to speed up metabolism. However, their metabolism boosting effects are small.
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