If you’re reading this article, you’ve likely been feeling sluggish and having a difficult time losing weight. If your shirts don’t fit like they used to, don’t panic just yet. You’ll be out of those baggy workout clothes in no time. There are plenty of things you can do to get your metabolism out of hibernation. The key is to give it a boost through a healthy lifestyle and a few behavior changes.
The benefits of a faster metabolism include better digestion, a leaner body, and an improved sense of health. Here are some ways to get your body up and running again.
1. Eat just enough
Common sense dictates if you eat less, then you won’t gain weight. However, eating too little can throw your metabolism into a loop. If you eat less than you need for your body to function — about 1,200 calories for most women, according to Prevention — you may be doing a number on your metabolism. Dan Benardot, Ph.D. and an associate professor of nutrition and kinesiology at Georgia State University, told the publication, “Eat just enough so you’re not hungry — a 150-calorie snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon between three meals (about 430 calories each) will keep your metabolism humming.”
2. Hit the gym
Fact: Aerobic exercise, i.e., cardio, can keep your metabolism running hours after you’ve worked out. Another fact: High-intensity interval training can deliver a stronger burst to your resting metabolic rate much more so than your steady 30-minute run. And HIIT is one of the best ways to increase your metabolism.
To reap the best benefits, opt for an aerobic exercise, such as running, biking, or cycling, which includes short bursts of intense speed (between 30 to 60 seconds) followed by a resting or normal speed — this can be done six to 10 times for a great metabolic revving and fat-loss workout.
3. Grab a green tea
Instead of reaching for your morning coffee, brew a pot of tea instead. Green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate, which studies indicate can contribute to cardiovascular and metabolic health. And the combination of regular exercise and green tea could have an even more powerful impact, according to research conducted at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.
If you can’t give up your coffee habit (who can?), know caffeine has the great ability to speed up your metabolism by tapping into you central nervous system. “In addition, coffee beans provide antioxidants and real health value,” Amy Goodson, R.D. and dietitian for Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine, told HuffPost.
4. Stay hydrated
Are you tired and thirsty much of the day? You may not be getting enough fluid. Adequate water intake will help your metabolism work at its best. Even mild dehydration could cause your metabolism to get slower. So keep things in perfect working order by drinking at least six to eight glasses of water each day. Know that fruits and vegetables also count toward your water intake.
5. Spice up your life, literally
And we’re not talking about the Spice Girls. The next time you’re sitting down to a nice meal, skip the salt and reach for the hot sauce or chili powder instead. Michelle Dudash, R.D. and author of Clean Eating for Busy Families, tells The Huffington Post chili peppers contain a compound that can give you a boost. “The capsaicin in the chili peppers has a thermogenic effect,” she said, which can cause the body to burn up to a whopping 90 additional calories immediately following a meal.
6. Take a bite of chocolate
This doesn’t mean a chocolate bar a day keeps the metabolism going, but a bite or two of the dark stuff can help. Prevention explains dark chocolate has enough caffeine to offer your metabolism a boost. It also contains catechins, compounds are found in green tea that raise your resting metabolic rate. Enjoy, but don’t go overboard — eating too much or going for milk varieties may cause weight gain instead.
7. Add olive oil
Adding olive oil to your food can help you burn body fat. So, make sure to add a little to your meals for an added metabolic boost. Furthermore, research shows olive oil has been a helpful in managing diseases such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
8. Eat more protein
One of the easiest ways to boost your metabolism and build extra muscle is to focus on consuming more protein. SFGate explains building muscle raises your basal metabolic rate, allowing you to burn more calories when you’re not doing anything at all. It also takes more energy to process dietary protein than it does to process carbs or fat, which means you’ll get a boost here as well.
Swap out complex carbohydrates for lean sources of protein including soy, nuts, legumes, meats, and fish. Not only does protein help increase your metabolism, but it keeps you fuller for longer, too. You won’t feel the urge to snack on junk food between meals.
9. Get your iron
Getting enough iron is essential in many of the body’s metabolic functions, Livestrong.com explains, particularly when it comes to producing hemoglobin. This molecule is what transports oxygen throughout your body. Prevention says lacking enough iron will make you feel sluggish and cause your metabolism will slow. The best way to get your fill of iron is to eat naturally iron-rich foods like shellfish, lean meat, beans, fortified cereals, and spinach.
10. Go for a check-up
Last but not least, see your doctor. If you’ve tried everything and you still can seem to lose weight, you should see your physician. Sometimes a weight issue could be due to medical problems, specifically with your endocrine system.
As Jillian Michaels says in Master Your Metabolism:
Yes, calorie counting and exercise are very important, but they are not the whole story. Underneath the dieting and workout programs are the little messengers that carry information from your body to your brain and vice versa. These “little messengers” are your hormones. … [S]ome hormones tell you you’re hungry, some tell you you’re full. … [H]ormones control almost every aspect of how we gain weight — and how we can lose it.