Whether you’re trying to lose weight or you just want to maintain a sleek physique for the summer months ahead, boosting your metabolism is a fast and effective way to burn up extra calories and lose weight. In this article I have put together a few diet and exercise tips to rev up your metabolism, so you can burn fat faster and look FABULOUS in the sunshine!
1. Power breakfasts
Always eat a healthy breakfast. After going 10–12 hours overnight without food, your energy reserves are low so your body, and perhaps more importantly your brain, needs fuel. When you skip breakfast your metabolism slows to conserve energy and this can actually make it more difficult to maintain weight. Many studies have shown that people who regularly eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight than people who don’t and are more inclined to eat less during the course of the day. Like any other meal, a balanced breakfast should include foods from each of the major food groups: some protein, a reasonable amount of complex carbohydrates and a little fat. These three nutrients together will help stave off hunger pangs and keep blood sugar levels balanced until lunch. It’s also a good time to get at least two servings of fruit. For instance, one small glass of fruit juice or a sliced banana and some raisins sprinkled over your cereal. If you can tick off two servings at breakfast you are providing your body with a good boost of vitamins and minerals and are well on target to reaching your ‘5 a day’.
2. Eat little and often
As strange as it may sound, eating frequently can actually help you lose weight. This is because our bodies burn up calories solely from digesting and absorbing food. Grazing on small, regular snacks throughout the day can help keep your metabolic rate elevated by about 10 percent for up to 2-3 hours after eating. Ideally, snacks should be spaced around your breakfast, lunch and dinner to help balance blood sugars and sustain energy levels. Healthy snacking options include: a handful of plain nuts and seeds, natural yogurt with mixed fruit, raw vegetable sticks with hummus, a slice of rye bread topped with low fat cottage cheese or two rice cakes with almond butter. Aim to have 2-3 small healthy snacks a day at 2-3 hour intervals for a calorie burning boost.
3. Get moving
One of the many great weight loss benefits of exercise is that even after you finish your workout you continue burning calories faster than normal. This ‘after burn’ effect can last up to two hours post workout as your body works overtime to pay off the oxygen debt, replenish energy reserves and repair muscle tissue. Furthermore, this burning effect comes predominantly from your body’s fat stores. For best results, do a mixture of aerobic and resistance training. And don’t forget to be more active in your daily life too- brisk walking to the shops, cycling to and from work and even DIY, gardening and housework can all burn a significant amount of calories.
4. Add muscle
If you want to increase your metabolic rate in the long term you need to add muscle. The more lean muscle mass you have the better your calorie burning capacity and the result is fewer calories being stored as body fat. Our muscles act like furnaces and operate by burning food for energy. When we increase muscle mass, we also increase metabolism, the result is that we burn more calories, even when we are resting. If you belong to a gym, aim to fit in a full body weight training session twice a week to add two pounds of muscle. This will help you burn an extra 65 calories per day. Not a gym member? Invest in some kettle bells for a highly effective fat burning work out from home.
5. Get enough protein
Foods that are high in protein are best at helping to boost metabolism and can help you burn an extra 150-200 calories per day. This is because protein ingestion produces a high thermogenic effect, which basically means that more of the calories you consume (up to 20 percent) will be burned off as heat. Protein is also the most satisfying nutrient, so helps stop you overeating. Choose low fat protein foods such as lean meat, fish, skinless chicken, low fat cheese, yogurt and milk. Aim to have a fist size serving with every meal.
6. Take up a mid afternoon walk
Fancy a walk after Sunday lunch? Research has shown that moderate exercise, such as walking, after eating may turn more of the calories you have just eaten into heat and cause your body to burn more calories. As well as increased calorie expenditure, this can also lead to beneficial cardiovascular effects including lowered blood pressure. Similarly, eating within an hour after vigorous exercise encourages calories to be used for energy rather than stored as fat, as the metabolic rate is accelerated during this time.
7. Milking the benefits
Could milk be the secret to weight loss? According to a study published in the January 2003 American Society for Nutritional Sciences Journal of Nutrition, women who consumed milk, yogurt and cheese 3-4 times a day lost 70 percent more body fat than women who didn’t eat dairy. The reason: calcium along with other substances in dairy may actually raise the metabolism, telling your body to burn excess fat faster. The best results come from dairy products such as low fat cheese, yogurt and milk instead of calcium fortified products like orange juice and supplements. Women have the largest fat burning benefit when they consume 3 servings of dairy and 1000 milligrams of calcium a day.
8. Spice things up
It’s not an old wives’ tale after all! Adding spices like chilli, turmeric and cinnamon to your meals can temporarily increase your metabolic rate and in turn help you burn fat. Some spices such as chilli may even raise your metabolism by as much as 50 percent and this effect could last for up to 3 hours after eating. The reason behind this could be down to their thermogenic properties. Spices raise your body’s temperature which in turn increases the heart rate and stimulates the body’s fat burning process. The overall result is that eating spicy foods can increase the amount of fat and calories you burn temporarily.