One of the biggest factors in determining your overall health and fitness is your metabolism. Although some aspects of your metabolism are set in stone (men tend to have higher metabolisms than women, while age and genetics also play a role), there are many ways you can improve and maintain a healthy metabolism.
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Your body constantly burns calories, even when you’re doing nothing, and the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate is. (Every pound of muscle burns three times as many calories as one pound of fat does in order to simply sustain itself.)
Think of your body like a well-oiled, metabolic burning machine; use it, fuel it, and give it the rest it needs to keep those engines burning at maximum efficiency. By building muscle and eating metabolism-boosting foods, you’ll sleep better, have more energy and feel firmer.
Here are six proven ways to boost your metabolism.
1. Start With A Healthy Breakfast
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet so many of us continue to skip it. Eating a well-proportioned breakfast filled with protein, complex carbs and healthy fats will help fire up your metabolism and keep it burning as throughout the day Not to mention, it will make you less likely to succumb to hunger cravings as the day goes on. Skip breakfast, and you’re essentially putting ankle weights on your metabolism. And try to avoid breakfasts that are sugary and filled with empty calories; reach for one of these clean, muscle-building breakfast ideas instead.
2. Make It HIRT
The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be, which is why strength-training is so important for weight maintenance. At the same time, HIIT-style workouts (high-intensity interval training) are also thought to increase your metabolism, enabling your body to burn more fat as you rest. This happens because HIIT triggers a reaction called Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).
So what happens when you combine muscle-building with HIIT? Enter HIRT, a combination of resistance training and cardio-based interval training that really gets your engine going.
High Intensity Resistance Training (HIRT) is essentially strength training for fat loss. During a HIRT workout, you’ll perform a series of strength training exercises for a set number of reps, for a set number of minutes, without rest. Thus, your heart rate will stay elevated and your muscles will be given very little time to recover before being called on again.
Also Read: What Is The 13-Day Metabolism Diet?
Results from a study published by the Journal of Translational Medicine show that HIRT (a.k.a., high-intensity resistance training) may increase resting energy expenditure (REE), and as result improve fat loss. HIRT is beneficial for a multitude of reasons, and can be effective for a number of fitness goals. If weight loss is your goal, HIRT allows you to maintain important metabolism-boosting muscle mass, even while on a low calorie diet. Conversely, it also allows you to build muscle when on a high-calorie diet, without also adding body fat. You’ll burn more calories in less time, when compared to steady state cardio and typical resistance training, and improve both your aerobic and anaerobic endurance.
3. Eat Protein At Every Meal
If muscle is the foundation of an excellent metabolism, proteins are the building blocks that get you there. Experts recommend eating at least 20 grams (and up to 40 grams) of protein immediately after a strength-training workout to encourage muscle growth and after-burn, and include a serving like lean meat, nuts, dairy, eggs or protein-based grains like quinoa to every meal. Research shows protein can up post-meal calorie burn by as much as 35 per cent.
Hydration lies at the core of effecting any positive physical change, especially when it comes to revving up your metabolism. A study released by U.S. National Library of Medicine, which concludes drinking enough water encourages water-induced thermogenesis, which as a result increases energy expenditure and encourages weight loss in participants fighting against obesity. Meanwhile, a German study found that drinking 6 cups of cold water a day can raise your resting metabolism by about 50 calories daily — enough to shed five pounds in a year. In laymen’s terms: drink more water!
Studies have shown that increase in your stress levels can directly cause cortisol spikes, which increase your appetite and slow down your metabolism. Research has shown that stress can lead to weight gain, so the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, take some time to mentally unwind. Schedule a personal day, take a walk during your lunch break or try some mental tricks like meditation and mindfulness or The Relaxation Response to stop stress before it starts.
5. Eat Iron-Rich Foods
Iron is essential for carrying the oxygen your muscles need to burn fat, says Tammy Lakatos, RD, coauthor of Fire Up Your Metabolism. If you don’t get enough iron in your diet, you risk fatigue and a sagging metabolism. Women especially need to be wary of the effect that a lack of iron can have on their metabolism, as women lose iron during their monthly menstrual cycles and are more likely than men to suffer from anemia. To make sure you’re getting enough iron in your diet, choose iron-healthy foods like lean meats, seafood, beans, fortified cereals, dried fruits and spinach.
6. Get Some Sleep
A rigorous diet and workout regimen must be counteracted with plenty of rest. A recent study released by the University of Colorado Boulder, which shows a continued lack of sleep over a work week resulted in the test’s participants packing extra pounds, compared to the control group who slept more soundly. In one study out of North Western University, people who slept at least seven hours at night had better and longer workouts the next day, while fewer hours of sleep led to shorter and less productive workouts. Research has also suggested that deeper, longer sleep is restorative and helps with muscle repair after a workout as well.