It’s a frustrating scenario. You eat right and exercise yet you have gained weight or cannot shed weight. You may have inherited your mom’s slow-motion metabolism, but the good news is; you’re not stuck with it. Research shows you can trick your body into burning calories more efficiently, especially if you hit the gym.
“By strength-training just a couple of times a week, for example, you’ll reverse 50% of the seemingly inevitable metabolism slow-down that comes with age, says Dr. Christopher Calapai a New York City Osteopathic Physician board certified in family and anti-aging medicine. Here Dr. Calapai shares 7 Metabolism boosters that don’t require a visit to an endocrinologist or a prescription.
Doc Talk: 7 Smart Metabolism Boosters
- Value food as fuel and eat.
If you want to weigh less, you’ve got to eat less, right? Wrong! If you take in too few calories, it can cause your body to lose muscle mass and decrease your metabolic rate. Plus, when you skimp on calories, your body slows the calorie burn rate to conserve the fuel it’s got.
“Under-fueling is just as risky as over-fueling,” says Dr. Calapai. “In an attempt for quick, noticeable weight loss, many people wrongfully believe that eating as few calories as possible is the best solution. Not only can this lead to numerous nutritional deficiencies as the body is getting less food overall, it can actually have the opposite effect on weight loss.”
- Mix up your workouts.
When it comes to the best workouts for weight loss, neither weights nor cardio can completely move the needle on their own. Interval training is the best way to shed pounds, increase your metabolism, improve your cholesterol profile, and improve insulin sensitivity.
Turn your favorite aerobic exercise, (running, biking, even walking) into an interval workout by adding periods of intense speed (start with 30 to 60 seconds) followed by periods of rest (normal speed) for the same amount of time. Do this six to 10 times to complete a fat-slashing workout. As you get better, slowly increase the amount of time of increased intensity.
- Become best friends with breakfast.
Commit to starting the day with a good breakfast. What should you be having? Morning munchies that are slow to digest and leave you feeling fuller longer. Try a mix of lean protein with complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Fresh fruit, egg whites, steel cut oatmeal, Greek yogurt, fiber rich cereals are things to grab for.
“You’re not kick starting your metabolism if you have coffee for breakfast. Skipping breakfast puts the body in starvation mode slowing your metabolism to a crawl to conserve energy,” says Dr. Calapai.
- Spice up your diet.
It turns out capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their mouth-searing quality, can also fire up your metabolism. Eating about one tablespoon of chopped red or green chilies boosts your body’s production of heat and the activity of your sympathetic nervous system (responsible for our fight-or-flight response), according to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. The result is a temporary metabolism spike of about 23 percent. Stock up on chilies to add to salsas, and keep a jar of red pepper flakes on hand for topping pizzas, pastas, and stir-fries.
- Drink green tea.
If you always opt for coffee over tea, you could be missing out on a major metabolism boost. In a recent 12-week study, participants who drank 4-5 cups of green tea daily, then did a 25-minute workout, lost an average of two more pounds and more belly fat than the non-tea-drinking exercisers. What’s is its magic? The brew contains catechins, a type of antioxidant that triggers the release of fat from fat cells and helps speed the liver’s capacity for turning fat into energy.
- Snack smart all day.
It sounds counterintuitive. Why would you eat continually if you wanted to lose weight? Eating five to six mini meals, portioned to fit on the size of a salad plate, rather than three larger meals every day, keeps your metabolism going. “Snacking every 2 hours will also prevent you from going without food so long that you become so hungry that you overeat,” says Dr. Calapai. “Try not to let more than 4 hours elapse between meals and make sure each meal includes protein, for an extra metabolic boost,” he adds.
If you eat a high-fiber breakfast of cereal and fruit first thing, for example, have a midmorning snack, such as yogurt and fruit; for lunch (try four ounces of chicken or fish on top of a leafy green salad); then another snack late afternoon, like a banana and a piece of low-fat cheese. Dinner is then a lighter meal for example four to six ounces of turkey, salmon, or another lean source of protein with steamed veggies.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
Lack of sleep is linked to a major increase in the risk of obesity. This may partly be caused by the negative effects of sleep deprivation on metabolism. Lack of sleep has also been linked with increased blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, which are both linked to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes It’s also been shown to boost the hunger hormone ghrelin, and decrease the fullness hormone leptin This could explain why many people who are sleep deprived feel hungry and struggle to lose weight.