Your metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories. The faster you burn calories, the more weight you can lose even if you eat the same amount, so it makes sense to do everything you can to increase your metabolic rate if you’re trying to lose a few pounds.

You use about 60% of the calories you need each day just by being alive. That is your basal (or resting) metabolic rate. About 30% of calories are explained by how much you move (your metabolic activity). The remaining 10% is used in the process of digesting food (its thermal metabolism).

By making a few simple changes, you can activate all three types of metabolism and lose weight faster.

1. Eat little and often

Small, regular meals throughout the day will keep your metabolism up. If you eat the same amount of food in just one or two large meals as you do in five or six mini-meals and snacks, you’ll burn fewer calories. This is because your metabolism slows down between meals. Never skip meals to save calories. Having a low calorie snack will work much better and will also prevent you from greedily indulging in the nearest candy bar later in the day.

2. Have breakfast

Your metabolism slows down overnight. When you haven’t eaten for more than eight hours, you need to eat to get your metabolism working again. So eat breakfast as soon as you can after waking up. If you’re not one to eat breakfast, take something healthy with you when you leave the house and eat it as soon as you can afford it. It’s not good for your weight loss plans to have to boost your metabolism with a cookie or cake mid-morning.

3. Eat enough

If you eat too few calories, your metabolic rate will automatically drop. This is a self-preservation mechanism, kicking in when your body thinks it’s starving. The safest bet is to eat about 250 fewer calories than you need at the sedentary level and take in 250 to 500 calories of exercise each day to achieve a consistent weight loss of between one and two pounds per week.

4. Eat lean protein

The body needs more energy to digest proteins than carbohydrates or fats. Studies have shown that people who eat a high-protein diet burn more than twice as many calories in the hours after a meal as those who eat a high-carbohydrate diet. While the safety of high-protein diets may be questioned, it makes sense to include some lean protein as part of each meal.

5. Eat fiber

Fiber-rich foods also stimulate heat metabolism. High-fiber foods like beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains simply take longer to digest and therefore help burn more calories.

6. Give flavor to your food

Spicy foods (especially chili) boost metabolism by up to 25 percent for a few hours after eating. So eat hot and spicy foods a little more regularly and see if this helps. Just watch out for the refried beans and guacamole if you decide to go Mexican!

7. Drink coffee

Caffeine speeds up your heart rate, and the faster your heart rate, the more calories you burn. Not great though if you have heart problems or difficulty falling asleep!

8. Drink green tea

The phytochemicals in green tea are supposed to slightly increase metabolism by making the brain and nervous system work faster. Although not many large and conclusive studies have been done on this to date, drinking green tea instead of lattes or other calorie-laden beverages will definitely help you lose weight.

9. Get active

Aerobic exercise for more than thirty minutes not only burns calories but also keeps your metabolism high for several hours afterward. The best time to exercise is in the morning, as it will help jump-start your metabolism for the day. If you can get 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days, your metabolism will skyrocket. Interval training would help even more.

10. Walk away

If you prefer light exercise, try going for a walk after lunch or dinner. This increases the metabolism boost you get after eating. However, do not do strenuous exercise on a full stomach.

11. Build Those Muscles

Muscles burn calories even when you’re resting. For every pound of muscle you add, you burn about 50 additional calories a day without further exercise. Therefore, it’s a great idea to include some resistance or weight training in your exercise regimen. Twenty minutes three times a week is enough to make a big difference in your metabolic rate and body shape.

12. Go hot or cold

Any temperature extremes you experience will help increase your metabolism by up to 20 percent as the body tries to cool you down or increase your temperature. Make sure it’s safe for you to go on the sauna or arctic expedition before you try this one. You could try keeping your home a few degrees cooler than it’s comfortable to sit in in winter and restrict air conditioning to the hottest days of summer. In winter it will help you get up and move and in summer it will encourage you to go to the pool to cool off!

13. Drink ice water

Another trick is to drink a glass of ice water several times a day. You will increase your metabolism just by having to bring the water to body temperature. Drinking water is required anyway, of course, to keep your bodily functions running smoothly (including your metabolism).

14. Beware of alcohol

In addition to the empty calories that alcohol contains, it also has a dehydrating effect, slowing down thermal metabolism. Alcohol also tends to inhibit the process of metabolizing fat, which can lower your basal metabolism. And there’s not much chance you’ll want to exercise after all that drinking, so it will also have an effect on your metabolic activity. Bad news for everyone!

15. Practice yoga

The chemical processes that comprise your metabolism are regulated by the endocrine system, especially the thyroid. Yoga has many poses that have a powerful twisting and compressing effect on the endocrine organs, strengthening and stimulating them and this can help regulate and increase your metabolism.

By revving up your metabolism with these tips, you’ll improve your overall health and your ability to burn calories. Not only will you find that you lose weight faster, but you’ll also have more energy, greater strength, and be able to do everything you need to do in a day more easily.

Copyright 2005, Janice Elizabeth Small

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