If you’re trying to lose weight, you may have heard that you need to increase your metabolism. But what does metabolism mean and what does it have to do with weight loss? Your personal metabolism determines how many calories your body needs and uses—how many calories you’ll burn just by being awake, but also the extra ones you burn from walking, running, hauling groceries, mowing the lawn—even when you’re sleeping.
Because it determines how much you burn, your metabolism also determines how much you can eat if you want to lose weight. That’s why the all-new Nutrisystem plan takes your personal metabolism—and factors that affect it, like your age, height, gender, weight, activity levels and more—into account when designing your personalized weight loss system.
Don’t worry about whether you have a “slow” or “fast” metabolism: About 96 percent of us have a metabolism that falls into a “normal” range, says Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care. But your daily habits can influence it, increasing your calorie burn and accelerating your weight loss results. We’ve put together this list of some simple habits that can give your metabolism a burning boost.
Here are six easy tips to boost your metabolism and increase weight loss:
1. Drink up!
Starting your day with a big, cold glass of water could help you burn calories all day. According to the University of Utah, “eight 8-oz. glasses of water a day, or “8 x 8,” as commonly expressed, not only helps maintain the body’s hydration status, but may bolster its metabolic rate as well, resulting in more efficient burning of calories.” They also explain that when you dehydrate three percent of your body weight, you burn two percent fewer calories throughout the day. The difference, the scientists say, is having the classic recommendation of eight glasses of water—64 ounces. When study participants had that much, they felt better and burned more calories.
Want your water to give you even more help with weight loss? Have it right before you eat. According to Virginia Tech Daily, when scientists had dieters drink two eight-ounce glasses of water before meals for 12 weeks, they lost more weight than those who didn’t drink before meals.
2. Munch on some peppers.
You may have heard that eating hot peppers can increase your metabolism—and that’s partially true. The peppers can increase your metabolic rate, but the spiciness warming your body isn’t actually what stokes the fire of your calorie burning. It’s the capsaicin that does this: According to Science Daily, scientists at UCLA Center for Human Nutrition tested the non-burning version of capsaicin, called dihydrocapsiate (or DCT), which is found in milder peppers. When study participants ate this non-spicy capsaicin, they still got a metabolism boost, nearly doubling their energy expenditure compared to a group that ate something without the DCT.
So, make one or more of your daily non-starchy vegetable servings a pepper—it could be a green bell pepper or some of those tiny “snacking” peppers that have been popping up in grocery stores. Even without the burning sensation and sweaty brow, you’ll heat up your metabolism and burn more.
3. Do some strength training.
Moving your muscles helps your metabolism in two ways: First, it builds lean muscle, which burns more calories even when you’re not using them. According to Mayo Clinic, “since muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does, muscle mass is a key factor in weight loss.”
But strength training also helps increase your metabolism right away through something called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). This means that when you stress your body through strength training, your body keeps burning extra calories long after the workout ends. In one study, published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, women who lifted weights still had an elevated metabolic rate the next morning after training—an increase of more than four percent in their metabolism.
You don’t even have to get out of your chair to get all these benefits: Try these six strength moves you can do while sitting on your tush! >
4. Get your Zzz’s.
Getting a good night’s rest is one of the keys to successful weight loss. When you don’t get enough sleep, your blood sugar levels can be thrown off, your ability to make good food choices fails and your body burns less fat (Read more about sleep deprivation here! >). It also messes with your overall metabolism: Just three nights of bad sleep can start to slow your calorie-burning engine down, says the the University of Chicago Medicine.
Check off these seven smart tips to get better sleep and keep your metabolic fire burning! >
5. Make part of your shower chilly.
According to Science Daily, researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research studied people who were feeling cold. They found that shivering for 10 to 15 minutes per day caused participants’ bodies to release a hormone that turns “white fat” into “brown fat,” a type that’s more associated with keeping the body warm. That’s significant because brown fat also burns calories—up to 300 per day!
In the study, the amount of this fat-changing hormone, irisin, that was released during a 15-minute cold shower matched the amount released by the body during a full hour of moderate exercise. So give yourself an occasional cold shower and turn your fat-burning to hot!
6. Warm up with some green tea.
You’ll probably want it after that cold shower, and it actually does double-duty for weight loss and your metabolism: Green tea has two compounds, caffeine and catechins, that may help with both. In an analysis of 44 different studies, published in Physiology & Behavior, scientists found that these two compounds together helped dieters lose 2.8 more pounds when dieting compared to those who didn’t have them. And the catechins, specifically, have been linked to metabolism, with scientists finding that the compounds increase overall energy expenditure.
It doesn’t just have to be hot green tea, either. For a cool, fruity treat that works with your program, try this Blueberry Green Tea Smoothie! >