25 Simple Ways to Boost Your Metabolism
Your metabolism is like compound interest: The more you invest, the bigger your reward—in the form of effortless calorie burn. These little tricks provide a big payoff.
Play footsie… with yourself
Are you a toe-tapper? A pencil twirler? A leg shaker? Don’t stifle it—all these little movements can bolster your metabolism. Fidgeters can burn up to 500 calories a day without even thinking about it. That adds up to losing one pound a week. Just make sure your fidget isn’t humming or otherwise making noise, as that may make your coworkers kill you, which would not be good for your metabolism at all!
Down a cup or two of coffee
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and your daily java can rev your metabolism five to eight per cent, helping you burn an extra 98 to 174 calories a day, says Julie Lohre, a certified personal trainer, nutrition specialist, and American Ninja Warrior. Drinking your cup of coffee before your workout can also help you stay more focused on your exercise, which can also boost your metabolism, she adds.
Slap on a Breathe-Right Nasal Strip before bedtime
When it comes to your metabolism, sleep is the reset button. So if yours is constantly interrupted by snoring or sleep apnea then you’re missing out on some of the calorie-burning benefits. The fix to bad sleep may be as simple as using a breathing strip on your nose at night or adjusting your sleeping position.
Curl up on the couch with your favourite flick
Wait—being a couch potato can help your metabolism? If you’re totally relaxed, then yes. Stress increases the level of the hormone cortisol, which can cause metabolic dysfunction if it’s constantly elevated, explains Bindiya Gandhi, MD, an integrative and functional medicine specialist. The cure is to do something that will help you completely de-stress. Taking a long bath, walking outside, and reading a book are all great options to chill out, but if your favourite method is watching a movie, that’s cool too, as long as that’s not all you do.
Don’t miss these silent signs of stress you might be ignoring.
Make your nightcap a cup of chamomile tea
Even just one or two alcoholic drinks a day can disrupt your metabolism, increasing your risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders, Dr. Gandhi says. Skip the booze altogether or save it for special occasions and learn to wind down at the end of the day with a different beverage. Herbal teas are soothing, no-calorie options that won’t keep you up at night.
Here are the binge drinking warning signs to watch out for.
Watch the sunrise
Getting a little sunlight on your face every morning boosts both your body and your mood, says Ken Ceder, executive director of Science of Light, a nonprofit focused on the benefits of natural light. To get your daily dose, you need to spend at least 15 minutes every morning outdoors, in the sunlight, without sunscreen or sunglasses on. Simply taking in the sunrise can help you lose weight and increase your metabolism naturally, he says. If the sun isn’t cooperating, consider using a light box—it’s just one of the ways you can help avoid seasonal affective disorder this season.
Squat down to pick things up
Doing “composite movements”—any movement that uses more than one muscle group—can elevate your metabolism for 24 to 48 hours, says Ron Erlich, BDS, a board member of the Australasian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine and author of A Life Less Stressed. Compare that to going for a run, which may burn more calories but only raises your metabolism for a few hours afterward, he says. You don’t have to be a gym rat to benefit. Many of these compound movements can be a part of your everyday life—think of chores, gardening, and even putting away the groceries.
Cantaloupe, not cupcakes
Simple carbohydrates, like the kind found in junk food, are metabolism killers, Erlich says. The sugars elevate your blood sugar and make you resistant to insulin, he explains. This doesn’t mean you can never have a cupcake or some chips again, but next time you crave something sweet, try satisfying yourself with a piece of fruit first. Bonus: Fruit comes with fiber, a proven metabolic booster.
Enjoy a grass-fed steak with butter
Fat is not the enemy when it comes to weight loss. In fact, eating the right kinds of fats—including butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, nuts, and fat from pasture-fed and -finished animals—can increase your metabolism, Erlich says. Healthy fats help regulate important hormones, including testosterone, and help you feel full longer so you don’t binge on junk food, he adds.
Check out these other nutritionist-approved ways to speed up your metabolism.
Facetime a friend in real life
“In today’s ‘attention economy,’ it is easy to get lost in the online world of social media and take your real-life, face-to-face relationships for granted,” Erlich says. Face-to-face time with friends and family has a ton of mental- and physical-health benefits and can tack on years to your life.
Quit your dangerous sitting habit
Sitting has been called “the new smoking”: Recent studies suggest that sitting for more than eight hours a day raises your risk of a whole host of health problems—and it can definitely slow down your metabolism, says Yasmine S. Ali, MD, president of Nashville Preventive Cardiology, PLLC, and an assistant clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. This one has an easy fix: Take a break every hour and stand up—or get a desk that allows you the option of standing while you work.
Cold is one of nature’s most powerful metabolic boosters, helping increase your levels of “brown fat,” a type of fat that burns more calories, even at rest. “Going outdoors in cold weather can increase your non-exercise thermogenesis (NEAT) score, helping you torch calories,” says Kristin Koskinen, a registered dietitian nutritionist. “The metabolic act of staying warm is an easy way to boost your metabolism without breaking a sweat.”
Eat an apple before eating anything else
Adding more apples to your diet can help your metabolism, Koskinen says. All you have to do is eat an apple before you eat anything else. “You don’t have to make any other dietary changes. This can decrease your overall calorie intake because of the satiety the apple provides,” she says. “I’ve seen clients increase their metabolism and lose 10 pounds by making this one change.”
Amp up your water
Drinking plenty of fresh water is one of the best things you can do to support a healthy metabolism but, let’s face it, plain ol’ H2O can get boring. To help you drink more of it, Koskinen recommends adding flavour to your water with sliced fruit or frozen berries. Or try changing the temperature for an extra metabolic increase. Nothing wakes you up like hot lemon water, she says.
Use the bathroom on a different floor
When it comes to increasing your metabolism, every little bit of movement helps. So look for unusual ways to work in a few more steps, especially stairs, into your day, says Reggie Chambers, a personal trainer and fitness specialist in NYC. One way to do this? Only use a bathroom located on a different floor of your office or home. Those runs up and down the stairs add up.
Add a little magnesium powder to your drink
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for metabolic health, says Carolyn Dean, MD, of drcarolyndean.com. “Magnesium is required for the body to produce and store energy and yet 75 per cent of Americans do not get their dietary reference intake (DRI) of this important metabolism-boosting mineral,” she says. You can take a supplement or mix some magnesium citrate powder into your water during the day.
Eat something already
It’s common for people looking to lose weight to slash their calories. This won’t wreck your metabolism (that’s a myth), but it can make you so tired and grouchy that you skip your workout or end up bingeing on junk food later.
Add in a protein shake
You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to benefit from chugging a protein shake. Many nutritionist themselves eat more protein to help the body burn more calories, even at rest. And protein shakes are an easy, cost-effective way to get more protein in your diet without having to turn on a stove.
Eat your greens
Veggies take more work for your body to digest, helping increase the metabolic afterburn of your meal, says Scott Putnam, a plant-based nutrition expert at Whole Living Nutrition. “This extra calorie burn from eating plant foods can last up to four hours,” he explains. “It raises your metabolism, and the extra energy you’ll feel will make you want to move your body more.”
Go low-carb at breakfast
Skipping breakfast won’t necessarily kill your metabolism—that’s yet another metabolism myth—but what you eat can impact your metabolism for the rest of the day, says Catherine Metzgar, PhD, RD, a nutritional biochemist with Virta Health. “To improve your metabolism, I recommend that you start your day with low-carb, no-sugar foods that provide protein and enough fat that you’re not hungry,” she explains. Her favorite quick breakfast? Plain Greek yogurt topped with a handful of berries and nuts. Or try one of these brain-boosting breakfast ideas.
Skip the soda when eating out
What’s tastier than a hamburger with an ice-cold root beer? Lots of people love ordering a sweet drink along with their dinner, but a recent study shows that drinking a soda while eating a high-protein meal causes the body to store more of the meal as fat and slows down your metabolism. To keep your engine burning hot, swap the soda for water or sparkling water.
Check out these 25 ways sugar is making you sick.
Divide your food into mini-meals
You don’t have to eat every two hours to keep your metabolism humming—yes, another myth—but for some people, eating a small, healthy snack a couple hours before a meal can help banish cravings and enable them to make wiser food choices because they’re not starving when they finally sit down to eat. Note: The serving shouldn’t be major—it can be as small as a cup of soup.
Don’t miss these proven weight loss tips from The Biggest Loser.
Do a four-minute workout
Making your workout shorter can help you increase your metabolism for up to 24 hours afterward—as long as you’re also making it harder, says Terry Dubrow, MD, coauthor of The Dubrow Diet: Interval Eating To Lose Weight & Feel Ageless. Short bursts of interval training sprinkled throughout your week are a proven way to increase your caloric burn by increasing excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, he explains. And it doesn’t take much; one study found that as little as four minutes a day can make a difference.
Take a walk before dinner
Getting a little movement in before a meal—say, a walk around the block or some gentle yoga—fires up your metabolism, giving you more energy and encouraging your body to burn more calories throughout the day, says Dr. Dubrow.
Get your pumpkin fix
You probably already know that pumpkin is delicious, but the healthy squash is also a secret weapon when it comes to boosting metabolism, Lohre says. The trick is in the hefty dose of fiber it provides. “Research shows that fibre can rev your fat burn by as much as 30 per cent,” she says. “Aim for at least 25 grams a day—the amount in about three servings each of fruits and vegetables.”
And at all costs, beware of these 50 sneaky things making you gain weight.