Want to lose weight? 5 tips to speed up your metabolism
Looking to lose weight? If so, you’ve likely heard people say “you need to speed up your metabolism!”
But what does that actually mean?
According to Merriam-Webster, metabolism is defined as the “chemical processes by which a plant or an animal uses food, water, etc., to grow and heal and to make energy.” During this complex process, the calories from your food or drinks are combined with oxygen to provide the fuel or energy you need to function. This even includes the energy you need to do involuntary things like breathing and circulating blood. The number of calories it takes your body to perform these types of basic and necessary functions is known as your basal metabolic rate, which is what most consider your metabolism.
While your basal metabolic rate only accounts for 70 percent of an individual’s caloric expenditures in a given day and is not the only factor when it comes to your weight, boosting your metabolism can make a big difference when it comes to your plan to drop pounds.
So what are some secrets to speeding up your metabolism?
Rosemary Mueller, a registered dietitian at Advocate Medical Group’s Weight Management Program in Park Ridge, Ill., offers these five tips:
- Drink, drink, drink — your water, that is. “Water hydrates the cells, quells appetite and assists your metabolism,” says Mueller. Aim to get half your body weight in pounds, as ounces of water and other fluids per day, up to about a gallon (128 oz) limit. Don’t count caffeine-containing or alcoholic beverages in this quota though as they can be dehydrating.
- Include resistance in your exercise routine. Strength train two or three times per week in addition to cardio. There is some research to support taking it slowly, resting for 2-3 minutes between sets to promote muscle growth. Increasing muscle mass helps increase your need for calories.
- Make sure protein is included in each meal, spaced evenly through the day, says Mueller. In one study, people who took in 30 grams of protein at each meal (about 4 ounces) had a 25 percent better muscle protein synthesis than those who ate 90 grams at a time or more irregularly throughout the day. Mueller recommends including some healthy carbs such as vegetables, beans, seeds, fruit and whole grains and heart healthy fats in moderation, like olive oil, nuts, seeds or avocado.
- Don’t crash diet. Instead, Mueller says you should reduce calorie intake gradually by eating approximately 500 calories less than usual each day and aim for ‘burning up’ a similar amount daily through exercise. By creating this total 1,000 calories daily deficit, you’ll lose about two pounds per week. This is generally considered a safe rate of weight loss.
- Get good shut-eye. Aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep at night is important, because good sleep is restorative and helps decrease stress hormones, which can encourage fat deposition. “Another tip is to lower your thermostat slightly at night because sleeping in cooler temps may help slightly ramp up your body’s production of brown fat, a type of fat found in small amounts in the human body and in hibernating mammals,” recommends Mueller. “Even though this does not significantly increase basal metabolism, brown fat is more metabolically active than regular adipose (fat) tissue, and we lose some brown fat as we age.”
About the Author
Jacquelien Hughes is the manager, media relations at Advocate Aurora Health. Previously, she was the co-managing editor of Advocate health enews. She earned her BA in psychology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Jackie has 10 plus years experience working in television and media and most recently worked at NBC 5 in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, going to the movies and spending time with her family.