Forget fad diets. Do you really want to keep the extra pounds away? Boost your metabolism.
That sounds a little strange. After all, we’re taught almost from birth that diets and eating right are the best way to stay slim and maintain that sexy body we’re striving for. There’s some truth to that. Diet and food choice provide the nutrients we need to grow, stave off ailments and to stay healthy.
But what if you could boost your metabolism, so you could stay slim without crash diets or a lifetime of counting calories? You can. Metabolism tends to slow after 40, but there are plenty of ways to keep it firing on all cylinders. Some may even surprise you.
Build muscle – One of the most effective fighters of flab. If you’re looking to burn calories, lean muscle mass is your friend. Muscles boost resting metabolic rate, so you’re burning calories even at rest. A pound of muscle uses six calories a day just to sustain itself, compared to two for fat.
Get aerobic – Muscles may burn calories when you’re still, but aerobics burn them on the spot. High energy aerobics are an unbeatable way to boost metabolic rate. Balance resistance training with aerobic activity and you’re in solid shape.
Drink more water – The body needs water to burn calories. Even mild hydration can slow metabolism. Aim for eight glasses of the fresh stuff each day, and lose the chips and pretzels and munch a fruit or veggie instead, as they’re both high in fluids.
Do it on the rocks – Want an easy way to burn calories? Add ice cubes. Ice-cold drinks squeeze extra calories out of your daily intake. Five or six glasses of water with ice can shed 10 extra calories each day. Doesn’t sound like much, but that’s a pound a year, and it’s a dead-easy way to do it.
Eat small, frequent meals – Eat more to lose weight? That goes against everything we’re taught about weight loss. But it works. Three large meals, with plenty of time between, slows the metabolic rate and encourages over-consumption. But eat more often, with small meals or snacks every few hours and you keep your metabolic rate firing on all cylinders, and you’ll eat less at meal time.
Get spicy – If you’re into spices, good news. If you’re not, you might want to start. Among many beneficial spices, red and green peppers contain chemical compounds that can boost metabolic rate by 23%. The effects only last about 30 minutes, but they may add up over time.
Load up on protein – The body uses more calories to process protein than it does for fats or carbohydrates. While you’re striving for a balanced diet, there’s no harm in trading some carbs for extra protein, like lean beef, pork, fish, white chicken, fish, nuts, beans and low-fat dairy. At least 30% of your diet should be protein.
Take your coffee black – That cup of Joe in the morning has more perks than you think. Among them, boosted metabolism. In one study, a 145 pound woman burned 50 extra calories four hours after drinking two black cups of coffee. The catch? Skip the cream and sugar. They add more calories than you’ll shed.
Drink green tea – With so many health benefits, you’d be a fool not to drink green tea. Research suggests that drinking two to four daily cups of green tea can burn an extra 50 calories each day. That’s five pounds a year. Green tea can boost metabolism for several hours at a time.
Avoid crash diets – The news you really want to hear: avoid crash diets. Any diet that restricts you to less than 1,000 calories a day starves you of essential nutrients. True, you’ll lose pounds, temporarily, but you’ll also lose muscle mass, which is far more important to weight management than a diet that will pack the pounds back on when you’re finished.
The bottom line? To boost your metabolism, live a healthy life. Eat right, drink plenty of water and calorie-shedding liquids. Add muscle and stay active. You’ll stay lean and feel like a champ, without that dreaded four letter word that begins with ‘d’.