We won’t deny that making fitness part of your routine is incredibly important for health and wellness. It’s not the total picture, though. There’s lots of other habits you can embrace —from how you work to what you eat—that can boost your metabolism and kickstart your weight loss.
Drink 2 glasses of ice water as soon as you wake up.
The water jump starts your body from sleep mode into awake mode, while the coolness of the water starts shunting water from the internal organs to the peripheral muscles. “That gets your blood pumping and blood flowing, which boosts your metabolism one to two percent,” says Kian Ameli, owner of the Concord, California location of Momentum Fitness.
Water is the single most important thing our bodies need, but so many of us walk around mildly dehydrated every day. “Our bodies will become metabolically sluggish without getting the water it needs. German researchers found that drinking six cups or 48 ounces of very cold water a day requires the body to expend more calories in trying to warm the water to body temperature. This can result in an increase in resting metabolism by 50 calories a day,” says Deborah Orlick Levy, M.S., R.D. and Carrington Farms health and nutrition consultant. This may not seem like much, but if you do this every day for a year, you can lose up to five pounds just by making this change.
Get a standing desk.
You can also just put your laptop on a high table. “The requirements of standing vs. sitting are profound, because while we are sitting, we don’t have to use any muscles. Standing does not need to be done all day either. One to two-hour standing sessions can boost your metabolism,” says Ameli.
Try “contrast” showers.
A contrast shower is one where you start off with warm water for two to three minutes, then change the water temperature to cool for 30 to 45 seconds. “While this may sound slightly unpleasant, the contrast shower will relax blooded vessels during the warm phase and contract them during the cool phase,” says Ameli. This has major impact on your body’s circulatory system, as well as having a relaxing effect on our “fight or flight” reflexes. The latter helps us sleep deeper, and better sleep leads to improved energy throughout the day and increased metabolism.
Check your sleep schedule.
Getting enough sleep and making your sleep schedule consistent can help improve your metabolism. “The body is a machine and needs efficient rest to reboot. Sleep is the best way to look and feel better from the inside out,” says Shanna Israel, lifestyle/wellness expert and CEO of Vertical Wellness.
Try intermittent fasting.
This is an eating schedule where you eat all of your meals in a short period of time and fast during the rest of the day. “I have my clients finish eating dinner at 6pm and drink water for the remainder of the evening. They wake up and drink cold water and skip breakfast. The eating phase begins at lunch time. It takes a while to get used to this, but you will see great results such,” says Dr. Rawle Shewprashad, a personal trainer.
Eat spicy foods.
Hot peppers have been linked to reducing obesity and related disorders because they increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation by increasing the metabolism.
Cayenne pepper improves digestion, blood circulation and increases energy levels. “This precious pepper creates heat in the digestive tract that helps your body store food more effectively, improving digestion and aiding in feelings of satisfaction. Cayenne pepper also contains high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A and essential minerals,” says Carina Sohaili, board certified celebrity nutrition and health counselor and creator of Vibrant Healthy Life. Add cayenne pepper to your salads, soups and meals for a zesty kick and huge health benefits.
It takes more calories to digest celery than it contains. For example, a stalk of celery contains six calories, but takes seven calories for your body to process it. Therefore, it is a negative calorie food.
Cook with coconut oil.
Coconut oil has become an essential part of every healthy household with benefits ranging from a useful moisturizer to promoting oral health and everything in between. But can it boost metabolic rate? How is that possible?
“Ideally, choose extra virgin coconut oil to ensure you are consuming the purest form of the oil with all of its natural benefits. Coconut oil is comprised of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) that are easy to digest and quickly absorbed into the body to be used for energy and not stored as fat. On the contrary, vegetable oils are comprised of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) which have longer chains linked together and require the help of liver enzymes for digestion,” says Levy.
Cinnamon is a great natural metabolism boosting spice. “I carry a small container of cinnamon in my purse and sprinkle it on everything. This saucy spice is great for stabilizing energy levels because it does not spike your blood sugar. Cinnamon also helps with stomach cramps and nausea,” says Sohaili. Get in the habit of throwing some in your morning coffee or tea, on your whole wheat toast or in your afternoon snack.
Hello fat-burning, metabolism-boosting nutrition powerhouse. Garlic is great for balancing blood sugar levels (which will reduce your energy highs and lows). This is good because it will curb cravings for unhealthy foods. Garlic also builds up your immune system, lowers high blood pressure, and helps dissolve blood clots. “Another added bonus is that it is packed with a powerful antioxidant that has been proven to help fight off infectious diseases,” says Sohaili.
Not only is grapefruit a huge metabolism booster, but it is also a great source of vitamin C and vitamin A, two vitamins that have been proven to contribute to clear skin, a more even complexion, and a reduction in dark circles under your eyes. Grapefruit also contains an enzyme that aids in burning fat. “It is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up when you are losing focus and hanger (hunger-anger) starts to kick in!” says Sohaili. Grapefruit is also fantastic for digestion; it helps the body break down protein in order to be used more efficiently. Need an easy grapefruit recipe? Try a simple baked spice grapefruit. Sprinkle half of a medium grapefruit with cinnamon, nutmeg and 1/2 tablespoon of stevia (an all-natural sweetener that does not spike your blood sugar levels). Bake for five minutes at 375 F until the top is a golden brown.
Consume high-fiber foods.
These require the body to work extra hard in the process of digestion and low fiber foods are digested easily without much effort. “This occurs because fiber is indigestible and, although it is futile, the body expends great effort to try to break it down. This results in increased caloric burn from the process,” says Levy. Choose wild rice (which has nearly twice the amount of fiber per serving than brown rice), whole wheat pasta, and legumes to get a high fiber fix.
Drink green tea.
Green tea contains many healthy nutrients and is credited with boosting metabolic rate. “Clinical studies suggest that catechins in green tea are responsible for speeding up metabolism and weight loss. Researchers believe five eight-ounce cups a day may increase caloric burn by 90 calories,” says Levy. Sound hard to do? If you drink two cups in the morning, you can get the benefits of both the catechins and caffeine to maximize metabolic boost. (Caffeine is also believed to boost metabolic rate.) Then, add brewed decaf iced green tea to drink throughout the day to get the additional thermogenic effect from the very cold water, maximizing your metabolic output. It’s that simple.
Eat plain, all-natural Greek yogurt.
Protein and calcium are nutrients that do wonders for metabolism. “Greek yogurt contains double the amount of protein than normal yogurt and is a great source of calcium,” says Sohaili. Try a chunky pineapple cream cup: combine 1/2 cup of plain non-fat Greek Yogurt, 1/2 cup of pineapple and 1 tablespoon of stevia for a refreshing afternoon snack.
Salmon is a great lean protein source and metabolism booster. “Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy fat that the body does not produce on its own. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease, irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels. These healthy fats also increase your ability to focus and improve your mood,” says Sohaili. Try a steamed salmon entrée for dinner, a couple of brown rice salmon rolls or salmon seaweed wraps: roll three ounces of smoked salmon (wild caught Alaskan is best) in a couple of sheets of seaweed (which you can buy at any local market).