Even when you think you aren’t doing anything, your body is humming along smoothly — repairing itself, sending energy where it needs to go, building muscle and pumping blood. All of this takes a lot of work and burns calories. In just an hour, the average 150 lb. adult burns just over 100 calories.
But this number isn’t set in stone. You can boost how much you burn up — your basal metabolic rate — by tweaking your lifestyle and what you eat or drink. The more efficient and “hot” your metabolism, the more effortless your fitness and weight maintenance.
Wake up and chug water:
Your body requires proper hydration to flush toxins, transport nutrients where they need to go, and recover after hitting the gym. Just a slight level of dehydration can negatively impact your metabolism. For example, studies have found that proper hydration levels are crucial for metabolizing lipids — also known as fat! Drinking water also helps you stabilize your body temperature, lubricates your joints, and helps with proper elimination of waste through bowel movements and urination.
The Institute of Medicine suggests that men should drink approximately 13 cups of water a day, while women should drink approximately 9 cups. Water needs can rise or fall depending on physical activity, humidity and temperature levels and more.
Cut out sugary drinks:
Sugary beverages don’t just add empty calories to your diet, but they can actually slow your metabolism. Sugar can also mess with your blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, leading to further side effects. Instead, enjoy hot or iced green tea throughout the day. Green tea is one of the most popular metabolism-boosters on the market. Its catechins, an active compound in the tea leaves, can enhance metabolism rates. Plus, green tea offers additional benefits, such as potentially lowering your risks of some forms of cancer.
Add protein to every meal:
When planning your breakfasts, lunches and dinners, ensure there’s a nice protein source at each sitting. That’s because protein has a greater thermogenic effect on your body. This refers to how much energy your body needs to digest and process the food you eat. Compared to carbohydrates, the thermogenic effect of protein is 25% while the effect from carbs is 5%. In other words, your body uses dramatically more energy to burn off protein. Make your food work even harder for you at every meal!
A big mistake that people make when trying to lose weight is focusing on cardio. Such exercises can boost your health, but they have a lower impact on your actual metabolism. Instead, focus on weight-bearing exercises, such as bench presses or dumbbell curls. Muscle tissue burns more energy than fat tissues, so changing the ratio of muscle to fat in your body can elevate your metabolism over time.
If you do choose to continue doing cardio, try high intensity interval training (HIIT). This combines brief spurts of high intensity exercise with slower, more moderate speeds, and the end effect can enhance the rate that your body burns up fat.
As your day winds to a close, take a deep breath. Hold it for a second, then exhale slowly to the count of five. Repeat for a few rounds to slowly calm yourself and release the stress you’ve accumulated throughout the day. Regular breathing exercises, yoga, meditation and similar mindfulness techniques can help you manage your stress in a healthy way. Chronic stress releases cortisol, which prompts your body to store fat. De-stressing and getting enough sleep boosts your metabolism, allowing your body to focus on itself instead of trying to manage all the various external stimulants our modern life throws at it.