Chances are, you grew up either hating your metabolism (even if you didn’t know it) or never spent a second thinking about it.
Some of us are naturally rail-thin as kids without any effort, others pack on the pounds with little effort. What your body type is mostly depends on this one fact.
While known scientifically as the entire collection of chemical processes that occur within the body, metabolism is most famous for its role in helping us burn calories to produce energy for the body.
Your base metabolism is genetic, but it’s affected by several other factors, most notably what you put into your body and your physical activity level. Because of this, there’s a lot you can do to change your metabolism and not only burn more fat, but also improve your overall physical health in the process as well.
You can dramatically affect the expression of your metabolism and your biochemistry by the way you eat and the way you live.
– Jillian Michaels
Here are five habits that will boost your metabolism, improving your body’s ability to burn calories and hit that fitness goal:
1. Eat more frequently
A simple change anyone can make that can have a big effect on metabolism is increasing the number of times you eat in a day. That’s because the more often you eat, the more your metabolism has to work itself out.
However, don’t go overboard here. You’ll hear some stuff online about people suggesting you eat six times a day or something crazy. That’s in no way required and, honestly, impossible to keep up for the average person.
Instead, just focus on eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have a light morning snack and another one between lunch and dinner.
2. Start strength training
Muscle weighs more than muscle. Most people know this, however, what you might not know is that muscle is highly metabolic, meaning there’s a lot more going on with your muscles than with your fat, so it takes more energy from your body to maintain that muscle.
It’s no surprise, then, that the National Health Service found that individuals with a higher muscle-to-fat ratio typically have a higher BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate, the base metabolic rate required to power your body if you were to do nothing but sleep for an entire day.
Strength training has several other benefits as well, aside from making your body more toned, so it’s well worth the investment.
3. Drink cold water
In a study out of the University of Utah, researchers found that drinking eight eight-ounce glasses of cold water (roughly the daily recommended amount for the average adult) can increase metabolic rate.
The running theory is that the energy the body needs to warm up the cold water before it gets into the system is what contributes to the increase. However, in addition to the temperature, the study found that participants who only consumed four eight-ounce glasses a day had a slower metabolic rate, suggesting that how much water you consume also plays an important role.
In a Journal of Medicine Investigation study which tested the effect of tea on metabolic rate, participants were asked to consume either water, green tea, or oolong tea.
The result? Oolong tea increased energy metabolism of participants by as much as ten percent, an important factor which increases metabolic rate as a whole.
Unlike green tea, oolong tea has a higher concentration of polyphenols, a compound which has been shown to improve metabolic rate.
5. Consume more iron
Iron helps carry oxygen to the muscles, which in turn helps improve your metabolic rate and fat burning ability, according to Tammy Lakatos, author of Fire Up Your Metabolism.
Women in particular lose iron each month as a result of menstruation. So if you’re not regularly restocking that store of iron in your body, you’re not just affecting your metabolism, but your energy will also take a hit. Foods that are rich in iron include shellfish, spinach, legumes, red meat and pumpkin seeds. Don’t take a supplement before consulting your doctor.