|Diet & Nutrition
Boosting Metabolism: 10 Tips That Work
By Susan Woodward for MSN Health & Fitness
Metabolism. Simply put, it’s the process by which the body makes and uses energy (calories)
for everything from the cellular absorption of nutrients to running a marathon.
Sounds like pretty boring science on paper. Except that knowing how to efficiently metabolize
calories could translate into a healthier body.
Whether you’re trying to lose extra pounds or preparing for the inevitable metabolic slowing
that comes with age, here are some surefire ways to boost your metabolism to keep your
energy pulsating and your body in shape.
1. Build lean body mass. As mentioned above, metabolism slows as we age – by as much
as two percent a year! But there is something you can do to counterbalance nature. “Muscle
is the single most important predictor or how well you metabolize your food, how well you burn
calories and burn body fat,” insists Shari Lieberman, author of Dare to Lose. Strength training
with dumbbells or resistance bands at least twice a week is essential to boosting your
metabolism. Repeat – essential. And here’s the really good news: Your metabolism stays
pumped for many hours after you finish your workout.
2. Get moving. You know the drill, but here’s a reminder. At least 30 to 60 minutes of walking,
jogging, cycling, swimming or some other form of aerobic exercise a minimum of three times
a week is the other half of the exercise equation. “People don’t like to hear it but you have got
to exercise,” says Lieberman.
3. Eat. It may sound crazy to those trying to lose weight by severely restricting their daily
caloric intake, but the problem with this old school of thought, explains Michigan dietician
Julie Beyer, is that it actually slows metabolism. “Every cell of the body is like a flashlight
bulb,” she explains. “When our bodies don’t get enough food, or fuel, every cell burns less
brightly.” Recent studies show that eating smaller meals every three to four hours aids
metabolism and weight loss.
4. Ditch the sugar. Of course, you still have to make good choices about what you eat. “When
you eat sugar you throw your metabolic switch into fat storage mode,” says Lieberman, who
suggests a predominately low glycemic index diet, meaning foods that, unlike sugars, are
broken down gradually to help maintain an even blood-sugar level.
5. Don’t skip breakfast. It’s a fact that people who eat a healthy breakfast are skinnier than
people who don’t. And try to think outside the box. A breakfast bowl of vegetables and brown
rice is a great way to kick-start your metabolism for the day.
6. Include hot foods. If Mexican and Thai are favorites, you’re in luck. “Spicy food that has hot
peppers in it appears to boost metabolism,” Lieberman says.
7. Drink green tea. “There are unhealthy things that can boost your metabolism, like a really
strong cup of coffee, or nicotine, but I would never say go have a cigarette!” says Michelle
Streif, a personal trainer in Nebraska. Nor overdo it on caffeine, which also has undesirable
side effects. Instead, go for green tea, says Lieberman, which is known to stimulate
metabolism longer and more effectively than coffee.
8. Don’t forget H2O. Staying well hydrated is essential to flushing the body of toxic byproducts
that are released when fat is burned. Cold water may also give your metabolism at least a
small boost because energy is required to heat the body.
9. Avoid stress. At all costs. “Stress can actually cause weight gain, particularly around the
tummy,” says Lieberman. Why? Because physical and emotional stress activates the release
of cortisol, a steroid that slows metabolism.
10. Sleep. Research shows that people who don’t sleep for seven to eight hours a night are
more prone to weight gain. Additionally, we now know that lean muscle is regenerated in the
final couple of hours of sleep each night, says Beyer. Which takes you right back to tip