After the excesses of the summer, many of us have a few extra pounds we’d like to shed at this time of year. Encouraging your body to burn calories more efficiently by raising your metabolic rate can be a great help. Your metabolism is your body’s engine, which burns calories for energy throughout the day. If it’s working well, losing weight will be relatively easy, whereas a sluggish metabolism can make it more of a struggle.
While genes do play a part in dictating our baseline metabolic rate, there are plenty of ways to raise yours. Here are my top ten tips for getting that engine revving!
1. Never skip breakfast
Eating good breakfast ‘ignites the fire’ first thing, meaning that you can keep it burning and burn more calories over the day. This may be one of the reasons people who eat breakfast are slimmer than those who skip it. Missing breakfast on the other hand, after the long overnight fast will mean that the body can go into ‘starvation mode’. This involves signalling the metabolism to slow down to conserve precious energy stores. To read more on the importance of a good breakfast, including healthy breakfast ideas, click here.
2. Get Moving
As well as structured exercise, simply moving more and sitting down less over the day makes a big difference to how many calories you burn. Ensuring you never sit still for more than an hour, by setting a reminder on your phone is the first step. Using a pedometer, fitband or phone to measure how many steps you take each day is another great way to monitor your activity levels. The aim is 10 thousand, which can burn an extra 500 calories!
In terms of working out, high intensity interval training (HIIT) is the best workout for raising your metabolism. Not only does it burn plenty of calories while you are exercising, but it continues to keep the metabolic rate up for the rest of the day.
Muscle is as an active tissue, meaning that is uses energy even while you are resting. Therefore the more muscle you have the more calories you burn each day. Muscle building exercise such as weights, resistance exercises and yoga are therefore excellent for raising your metabolism. Fit in two muscle-building workouts per week.
3. Green Tea & Coffee
Caffeine revs up your metabolism, but before your reach for that double latte, a much healthier option is green tea. It contains about one fifth of the caffeine of a cup of coffee, giving a more gentle caffeine kick plus catechins – a type of antioxidant that boost metabolism. The combination of caffeine and catechins leads to increased metabolism and fat burning and 4-5 cups per day have been shown in studies to result in weight loss (1), as well as being great for skin and general health.
Green coffee is a healthy caffeine-free alternative to coffee that some studies show may encourage weight loss (2,3). It is made from raw coffee beans, which are naturally green before they are roasted. Roasting destroys some of the active ingredients (chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid) that have weight loss benefits including reducing fat absorption, increasing fat breakdown and changing the way the body handles sugar. Green coffee is available as a drink or supplement.
We already know it’s good for hydrating the skin, helping us concentrate and stay alert but water is also good for keeping the metabolism working well. Drinking cold water is best as the body uses energy (calories) to warm the water up to body temperature. Drinking 8-10 cups of cold water over the day will give the maximum benefits. An interesting study came out last week showing that simply drinking ½ litre of water 30 minutes before meals aids weight loss, so time your drinks accordingly (4).
5. Smart Snacking
Research shows that eating regularly – every 3-4 hours – keeps those energy furnaces burning. Of course it’s important to choose healthy snacks though, a packet of crisps is not going to do the trick! Instead choose small, nutrient-rich snacks like fruit, vegetable crudités with hummus, oatcakes with almond butter or a palm-full of almonds. Snacking on almonds has also been shown to help dieters lose more weight so they are a great choice!
You burn twice as many calories digesting protein as you do carbs or fat, so protein is the best of the three food groups for metabolism boosting. Choose lean animal proteins such as fish and chicken plus vegetarian proteins lentils, beans and tofu. As far as carbohydrates go, whole-grains require more energy to breakdown and digest that refined carbs so always opt for whole-grains.
7. Turn Up the Heat
Capsaicin is the compound in chilies that gives them their kick and is a known metabolism booster. It works by increasing thermogenesis after meals, which is the rate at which the body burns calories. It can also suppress appetite after eating, reducing those desert cravings, and is an excellent source of vitamin C. One study also found that chili decreased insulin levels after meals, which is beneficial for diabetics and also reduces the chances of healthy people developing the disease (5).
8. Turn Down the Heat!
As winter is on the horizon, it will be tempting to turn the thermostat up soon. However, scientists have found that this can actually slow down your metabolism. Cooler temperatures on the other hand, boost brown fat in the body, which is a type of fat that creates heat and burns energy. So the more brown fat we have the better for our metabolic rate and the colder the outside temperature, the more brown fat will be created. Just turning the heating down a couple of degrees may reduce your waistline, along with your bills!
9. Look after Your Thyroid
The thyroid gland is a little organ near the throat, which controls your metabolism. When it’s not working optimally things slow down. This can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, low mood, feeling cold and weight gain. So looking after the thyroid is essential. Two key nutrients the thyroid needs are iodine and selenium. Seaweeds such as spirulina found in Beauty & Go Detox are a fantastic source of iodine and Brazil nuts are an excellent selenium source. Selenium is also in Beauty & Go Skin Revive.
10. Sleep Tight
Good quality sleep and regular sleeping patterns will ensure your metabolism functions optimally. Poor sleep causes disrupted metabolism and an increase in the hormone ghrelin, which tells you to eat more! Aim for 6-8 hours per night and try to go to bed and rise at similar times each day.