I have a borderline thyroid condition. It’s underactive, (hypothyroidism), and not bad enough to require treatment. That doesn’t stop me blaming my metabolism whenever I put on weight.
But not for long. As soon as those pounds start to creep on, a tough look at any lifestyle changes usually finds the culprits.
It’s almost always one of these three reasons: exercising less (or less intensely), eating more (or the wrong foods instead of healthy eating) or neglecting strength building exercise.
I’d love to blame my metabolism. Who doesn’t want a quick fix? So I’ve pulled together 10 ways you can give your metabolism a boost that really work…
Ditch The Diets
Crash diets or significantly restricting your food intake will significantly slow down your metabolism. It’s a bit like animals hibernating. They get through the winter months by slowing their metabolism.
Start a diet and you’re signaling to your body to hang on to those fat stores. It’s handy if you’re trying to survive a long winter on not much food. Not so great when you’re trying to lose weight.
Rather than dieting, make small changes to your diet and try to eat healthy foods. If your diet is rich in nutrients, your body will send you less hunger signals.
Muscle cells use up more energy than fat cells. This means people with more muscle mass tend to have a faster metabolism.
It’s one of the reasons men tend to have faster metabolisms than women. Men naturally have more muscles, heavier bones and less body fat. (It’s tough for women but we just can’t eat as much).
Strength building exercises that build muscle will help you increase your metabolism and shift the fat. Hit the gym, take up yoga or climbing – all good activities to build your muscles.
You don’t need big bulky muscles, aim for all over body tone and give your metabolism a boost!
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), will significantly boost your metabolism for several hours after your workout.
Not only do you burn more calories per minute of exercise, (because you’re working harder) but your body will continue to burn extra calories after the workout is over.
HIIT involves short periods of intense exercise alternated with low intensity recovery periods. It’s a development of circuit training and has the same type of effect as interval training for runners.
Basically any high intensity exercise that makes you work hard will boost your metabolism. As they say; “There’s no gain without pain”. Just check with your doctor that HIIT is suitable if you haven’t exercised for a while, or have any medical conditions.
Sitting all day has been dubbed as the “new smoking” in terms of being bad for your health. It’s bad for your back and not moving means you burn fewer calories.
A stand up desk may not be possible but make sure you take regular breaks from sitting. Stand up, run up and down the stairs, just move more…
There’s some evidence that failing to get a good night’s sleep will slow down your metabolism.
The evidence is inconclusive but lack of sleep does make you more hungry and less inclined to exercise. Try to sleep well by following these tips:
Eat Protein With Every Meal
Your body uses calories to digest food and use the nutients in foods. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF) and it’s higher for protein than fat or carbohydrates.
Protein will also leave you feeling fuller for longer and may prevent you over-eating at meal times.
It’s possible eating more protein counters the negative effects of reduced food intake on your metabolism. It’s not going to be the only way to help you lose weight, but swapping some of those carbs for protein may help boost your metabolism.
Drink Cold Water
Drinking water has been linked to boosting your metabolism. The study is a little tenuous and the effect is temporary, but drinking water is so much better for you than sugary drinks.
Staying properly hydrated has many benefits and confusing thirst for hunger can be a factor in over-eating. (Just be aware that drinking an extreme amount of water in a short amount of time is dangerous).
Drink Green Tea
There are some studies that suggest drinking green tea may boost your metabolism. Personally I’m not convinced, but I do enjoy a nice cup of tea!
It seems to be the tea polyphenols that have the effect of boosting your metabolism. If you drink your tea without sugar, it’s a low calorie way of staying hydrated.
It’s a little similar to the effect of drinking tea, but the caffeine in coffee has been shown to boost your metabolism.
Again the studies are a little unconvincing, with testing on very small groups. Before you drastically change your coffee habits, bear in mind the negative effects of caffeine: insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, an upset stomach, fast heartbeat and even muscle tremours.
This is one of the more wacky items on the list, but peppers contain capsaicin which can boost your metabolism.
The effect is tiny. One study talks about burning around 10 extra calories per meal. Capsaicin may help you feel fuller for longer but there are far better ways of boosting your metabolism.
When it comes to weight loss there’s a lot of hype, and a lot of preying on vulnerable people with misinformation. Healthy eating and increasing the intensity of your exercise are the most important factors for losing weight. Eating yogurt is a good tip. If you have any other tips I’d love to hear them…