'Metabolism' is a word that we hear mentioned often in relation to weight loss, but what is it, really? Your metabolism is all of the chemical processes your body goes through to break the food you consume down into its constituent parts: energy for you to use, and storage for later usage.
People are interested in speeding up their metabolism because the faster your body burns through calories to keep it going, fewer calories are saved as fat for energy storage. Very simply put, a faster metabolism can contribute to a slimmer body—but it’s not just size! A faster metabolism can contribute to improved energy, alertness, and mood.
While your personal metabolism is generally dictated by your genes and your physiology, there’s some flexibility over which you can exert control. What are some of the things you can do to speed up your metabolism and make sure it's operating at peak capacity?
1. Get Enough Sleep
This one sounds like one of the simplest options, but it can be one of the most difficult. Getting enough sleep—around 8 hours—is essential to making sure your body is firing on all cylinders and making the most of its calorie-burning potential.
And it’s not just the amount of sleep that matters: studies have shown that getting to bed earlier means better sleep patterns and more restful nights, meaning more productive days—for you and your body.
Sleep can change your brain too, and is generally a really important part of your life that you can change to help you feel better all the time.
2. Add a Little More Caffeine to Your Diet
If you like coffee or tea, drinking an extra cup can give your metabolism an extra boost. The caffeine in these drinks ups your metabolism’s efficiency by up to 10%, helping you burn anywhere from 100-200 extra calories a day.
The key, however, is to make sure that the calories in the drink don’t exceed those burned by the caffeine, so that means consuming these drinks without creams or sugars of any kind. (This is also why sugary energy drinks aren’t recommended either.) Green tea, in addition to the caffeine, contains a compound called ECGC that helps your body burn fat, so it's a great go-to to try and rev up your metabolism.
3. Don't Skip Breakfast
After a night of sleeping, your metabolism is in dormant mode—because you weren’t moving or consuming anything for a long period of time, your metabolism naturally slowed down. To get it going again, try a mix of lean protein and a high-fiber, complex carb like oatmeal.
These leave you feeling fuller for a long period of time. Especially as part of a low-sugar breakfast, this kicks your metabolism into gear for the day while not overloading it, so you have enough energy and you’re metabolism isn’t sluggish, but you’re also not converting any of that food into fat.
4. Skip the Alcohol
Anyone who’s had a big night out knows that alcohol slows everything down—your judgment, the way time passes...and, that’s right, your metabolism. The sugar and alcohol in your favorite cocktail or glass of wine can have a negative impact on your metabolism’s function, both in the short and long term, so cut down your alcohol consumption if you can!
5. Mix Up Your Workout
After a few weeks with the same exercise routine, your body’s energy-burning pattern may get used to the stress you’re putting it under. This is why after a period of weight-loss success with a certain regimen, you may hit a plateau and have trouble continuing to see results.
This is where it’s a great idea to try something new—maybe a new kind of exercise, a different kind of yoga class, or even take up a new sport! High intensity interval training (or HIIT, for short) is a great way to kickstart the fat-burning capability of your metabolism.
Overall, leading a balanced, healthy and active lifestyle will help you maximize your metabolism’s function, and these tips can help you feel more energized and productive. Let us know which tips you try and if they work for you!
Image credit: Stephanie Birch