Top tips on how to boost your metabolism
To some degree, our bodies hum along at a preset metabolic speed determined by gender and genetics – but there’s still plenty of wiggle room. In fact, you can rev up your metabolism to burn around an extra 500 calories every day simply by making a few pain-free lifestyle swaps. “You actually have a huge amount of control over your metabolic rate,” says John Berardi, author of The Metabolism Advantage. While peoples’ metabolism typically nose-dives with age, studies show that you can limit that decline to as little as 0.3% per decade – without gruelling daily sweat sessions and extreme diets.
How to boost your metabolism in the morning
Metabolic Rating 3: Eat a decent breakfast. Every day. If you don’t, your metabolism goes into starvation mode (it’s paranoid like that) and slows to a crawl. In fact, research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found testers who ate no less than 22% and up to 55% of their total daily calories at breakfast gained only 1.7lb on average over four years. But those who ate less than 11% of their calories first thing gained nearly 3lb.
Crank it up: Go for morning munchies that are slow to digest. Try a mix of lean protein with complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Berardi recommends an omelette made with one egg and two egg whites, plus a handful of sliced mixed peppers and onions. Follow that with a small bowl of porridge topped with a handful of frozen berries and 3tbsp of omega-3-loaded flaxseed.
How to boost your metabolism at the office
Metabolic rating 2: Rejoice, caffeine addicts. According to a study in the US journal Physiology & Behavior, the metabolic rate of people who regularly drank caffeinated coffee was an average of 16% higher than those who drank decaf. “Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system by increasing your heart rate and breathing,” says Robert Kenefick, a research physiologist at the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.
Crank it up: Follow your morning cup of the black stuff with an ice-cold glass of water. Researchers at the University of Utah found just drinking one glassful can raise your body’s metabolic rate by up to 30% and keep it raised for around 10 minutes. The theory is your body has to burn extra calories to maintain its core temperature. Get your recommended eight glasses a day with the help of the free Waterlogged app, which gives you regular H2O prods.
How to boost your metabolism at the gym
Metabolic rating 3: Swap hours on the treadmill for the Tabata Method. This school of exercising is all about fast and furious intervals – 20 seconds of gut-wrenching effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated a total of eight times over four minutes. Studies have shown that working out this way is as effective at boosting your metabolism as much longer lower-intensity sweat sessions.
Crank it up: Geoff Bagshaw, a trainer at Equinox gyms, has come up with this three-move sequence. Do as many reps as you can of the first exercise in 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then repeat eight times. Rest for two minutes, then do it again for the other two exercises. Got it? Lunge with a bicep curl: Holding dumbbells at your sides, step back into a lunge, curling the weights up to your shoulders. Repeat on other leg. That’s one. Squat overhead press: Hold your dumbbells at shoulder height, arms bent, and lower into a squat. Now raise the weights to the ceiling as you push back up. Push-ups: You know this one. Assume push-up position, bend arms and lower.
How to boost your metabolism at meal times
Metabolic rating 3: To slim down, pile your plate with protein. Regular large helpings will help you build and maintain lean muscle. We all know muscle burns more than fat by now, so aim for 30g of protein – that’s 250g of low-fat cottage cheese or 100g of chicken breast – at each meal.
Crank it up: Chase your meal with a cup of green tea. “It’s the closest thing to a metabolism potion,” says Tammy Lakatos Shames, co-author of Fire Up Your Metabolism. In tests, people who consumed three to five cups a day for 12 weeks shed an average of 4.6% of their total body weight. Another study found having two to five cups a day torched an extra 50 calories a day. To really go for the burn, down it two hours after eating. Research shows it can increase breakdown of fat by a third.
The race against time
With each passing decade, your metabolism slows down by about 5%. Hormones are partly to blame, but so is the typical drop-off in physical activity. As a result you lose muscle mass, a major calorie consumer. So by the time you hit 35, you’ll burn about 75 fewer calories a day than you did at 25, and by age 65, it’s a hefty 500 fewer, says Dr Madelyn Fernstrom, author of The Real You Diet.
Credit: Women’s Health magazine.