31 Simple Ways To Increase Your Metabolism and Lose Weight

boost metabolism exercising 

Vesnaandjic

Technically, your metabolism is the process by which your body breaks down food and converts it into energy. Un-technically, it’s that thing that you want to speed up as much as possible to help you lose weight. For that, we’re here to help. While your metabolism is largely hereditary and can slow down with age, research shows some foods, behaviors, and activities can raise or lower your metabolism, therefore changing the amount of energy your body burns during a specific period of time. Some trendy approaches to boosting metabolism have gained attention in recent years—intermittent fasting, apple cider vinegar, etc.—but there’s no evidence to suggest they have any significant effect on metabolism and could even have a negative effect on your overall health. Instead, incorporate these habits into your everyday routine to give your metabolism a helpful boost.

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Drink coffee or tea

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, and your daily java can increase your metabolism 5 to 8%. Likewise, a cup of brewed tea can raise your metabolism by 12%, according to one Japanese study. Researchers believe tea antioxidants called catechins provide the boost. However, note that this effect may be “slight and temporary,” according to one expert, and if caffeine makes you jittery, the slight boost may not be worth it.

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Work in cardio

A vigorous aerobic workout can help you burn almost 200 extra calories during the 14 hours following your sweat session, according to a small 2011 study. The research suggests short bouts of intense running, swimming, or riding (HIIT workouts) beat longer, more leisurely workouts when it comes to charging your metabolism. “Just 20 to 30 minutes of HIIT, two or three times a week, is enough to see results,” said Pamela Peeke, MD, author of The Hunger Fix, in a previous interview.

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Lift weights

Pumping iron increases your calorie burn long after you stop working out. But that doesn’t mean those 3-pound dumbbells are going to cut it. According to a study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine, people who grab heavier weights and aim for shorter breaks between bouts of lifting increase their metabolic burn by up to 452 calories over the next 24 hours. People who used lighter weights and took longer breaks burned only 98 additional calories over the same period.

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Avoid late night snacking

“Eating carbs in the evening leads to metabolic problems, because the body is more resistant to insulin at night,” explained Aaron Cypess, MD, PhD, in a previous interview. This can result in a higher blood sugar, which can contribute to weight gain and other complications. Protein doesn’t cut it here either—it only takes a few extra steps for protein to be converted to carbs and fat. Any extra calories at night will be stored as fat, so eat dinner early and keep snacking light.

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Fight fat with fiber

Research shows some fiber can up your fat burn by as much as 30 percent. Aim for about 25g a day—the amount in three servings each of fruits and vegetables.

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Buy organic

Canadian researchers found dieters who consume lots of organochlorines—a type of pesticide pollutant stored in fat cells—experience a greater than normal dip in metabolism as they lose weight, perhaps because the toxins interfere with the energy-burning process. Other research hints that pesticides can trigger weight gain. Choose organic when buying peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes, and pears; non-organic versions tend to have the highest levels of pesticides.

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Drink more water

German researchers found that drinking 48 ounces of cold water a day can help you burn more calories. The benefit may come from the work your system has to put out to heat all that water to body temperature.

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Don’t sit still

Exercise is best. But research shows even small movements—stretching your legs, taking the stairs, or even just standing to talk on the phone—can add up to an extra 350 calories burned in a single day.

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Add iron

Iron is essential for transporting the oxygen your muscles need to burn fat, says Tammy Lakatos, RD, coauthor ofFire Up Your Metabolism. Unless you restock your stores, you run the risk of low energy and a sagging metabolism. Shellfish, lean meats, beans, fortified cereals, and spinach are excellent sources

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Get more vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for preserving metabolism-revving muscle tissue. Unfortunately, researchers estimate that a measly 4% of Americans over age 50 take in enough vitamin D through their diet. Get 90% of your recommended daily value (400 IU) in a 3.5-ounce serving of salmon. Other good sources: tuna, shrimp, tofu, fortified milk and cereal, and eggs.

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Eat protein

Research shows protein can increase post-meal calorie burn by as much as 35%. So try to add some healthy protein to every meal, like avocado, lean cuts of meat or poultry, dairy, fish, nuts, or beans.

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Eat chewy foods

The more you have to chew a bite before swallowing, the more energy you’re burning before that food even hits your belly. Food in its “whole state”—think apples as opposed to applesauce—tend to require more chewing. So do proteins, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

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Select spicy ingredients

Dieters taking capsaicin, the chemical that gives hot peppers their fire, doubled their energy expenditure for several hours, according to research from UCLA. By binding to nerve receptors and sending fat-burning signals to your brain, even mild peppers contain compounds that help erase up to 100 calories a day. Need some inspiration? Try cooking with spices like harissa, a North-African paste made from smoked chili peppers that goes wonderfully in soup (psst—here’s how to make it).

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Get more vitamin D

Lakatos says there’s some evidence that calcium deficiency may slow metabolism. Research shows consuming calcium through dairy foods may also reduce fat absorption from other foods.

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Get enough B12

B12 has been linked with a heartier, healthier metabolism. While most of us get plenty of this nutrient in our diet, vegans—or those who avoid meat, dairy, and eggs—are at serious risk of a B12 deficiency. A supplement can fill in your dietary gaps.

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Eat more nuts

Research suggests the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in nuts—and especially in walnuts—may enhance the activity of certain genes that control fat burning. The result: You torch more calories throughout the day, finds a review in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Aim for 1 to 1.5 ounces (a small handful) of walnuts per day.

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Don’t hide from the cold

Research suggests healthy “brown fat”— which builds up in small amounts when you’re exposed to the cold—is metabolically active, and so can help your body burn calories throughout the day. More research suggests both brown fat and your ability to withstand the cold build up quickly if you turn down the thermostat or lose that extra layer during the colder months.

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Say no to diet soda

Drinking artificially sweetened beverages may negatively affect your body’s normal metabolic response to sugar, notes a study in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism. Not everyone agrees, but diet drinks have been linked with weight gain and metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes.

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Laugh a little

As few as 10 minutes of giggles can help your burn 10 to 20% more calories, compared to being stone-faced, research shows. Studies have also linked laughter to lower rates of stress and a healthier heart.

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Meditation

A lot of research has linked meditation to lower rates of stress. And a 2014 study found women who were more stressed had a slower metabolism and burned less fat after eating than those who were stress-free.

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Eat full-fat dairy

Research shows people who choose full-fat dairy tend to be slimmer and healthier than those who select low- or non-fat. Experts say the fat in dairy may help you feel full quicker, which can cut down overeating or the urge to grab unhealthy snacks.

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Get more sleep

Just one night of bad sleep can slow down your metabolism the next morning, reducing the energy you expend by up to 20%, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. On top of that, disturbed shut-eye can seriously throw off hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin, which means you’ll be more likely to reach for junk food.

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Keep your bedroom cool

A study published in the journal Diabetes found those who slept in a 66ºF room burned 7% more calories than those sleeping in a 75ºF room. The study authors believe this is caused by the participants’ bodies burning extra energy to raise their core temp to 98.6ºF.

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Avoid “white” carbs

Just as fiber and slowly digesting foods power your metabolism (try these and require more energy to burn, the opposite is true of refined snacks and grains, research shows. Skipping white bread, white rice, and snack foods like chips or cookies in favor of whole, unprocessed foods and grains is a good idea. Try these 12 metabolism-boosting foods.

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Go for a morning walk

Getting exposure to light in the morning will not only help you wake up, but may help keep you slim, suggests research from Northwestern University. Sun-strength light helps sets your body’s internal clocks, which regulate everything from your sleep to your metabolism.

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Drink less alcohol

When you have an alcoholic drink, you burn less fat because the alcohol is used as fuel instead. Knocking back the equivalent of about two martinis can reduce your body’s fat-burning ability by up to 73%, research shows.

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Cut out diet soda

Drinking artificially sweetened beverages may negatively affect your body’s normal metabolic response to sugar, notes a study in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism. Not everyone agrees, but diet drinks have been linked with weight gain and metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes.

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Eat Chocolate

This isn’t your green light to maul the office candy bowl. But it won’t hurt to grab a couple of squares of high-cocoa dark chocolate. In a study by Swiss and German researchers, participants ate about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily for two weeks. Compared to a control group, those who ate the chocolate enjoyed better-regulated metabolisms. It may be the chemicals in cocoa, like flavonoids, that play a role in regulating metabolism, the researchers say.

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Get your zinc

Another nutrient your thyroid requires for proper function: zinc. And again, vegans are the ones who have to watch out for a deficiency. While you don’t need much zinc, only a handful of foods contain the nutrient—including beef, poultry, and shellfish. If those are off your menu, sesame seeds and grains like spelt contain some zinc, and so do many multivitamins.

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