Drink more H2O
Ensuring you get the proper amount of water every day is probably one of the oldest health tricks in the book, but it’s not just because it keeps our skin hydrated or helps prevent overeating by helping us feel fuller. A small study in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition found that drinking water can actually lead to weight loss, possibly because it can increase metabolism. “It takes calories to process water, because everything we do takes calories,” says nutritionist Lauren Pincus, “The more water, the more calories you need to expend.” She suggests aiming for around two liters a day, but the exact amount depending on your activity level and age.
Start strength training
While nutritionists agree that there is no magic food to revving up your metabolism, getting enough exercise, especially the right kind of exercise, is key. Experts suggest strength training two or three times to build lean muscle mass. “A pound of muscle burns up to nine times more calories than a pound of fat,” says nutritionist Lisa Stollman. “Lifting weights is a great way to build muscle mass.” However, the point is not just to build lean muscle mass, but to maintain it. “As we age, we start to lose muscle,” says Pincus. “Strength training not only builds muscle groups to burn more calories, but also helps preserve them and prevent loss.”
Up your protein intake
Eating a sufficient quantity of protein at each meal is almost unanimously agreed upon as a critical component of maintaining a rapid metabolism. A recent study by the American Society of Nutrition attested to a higher protein diet making you feel more satiated after eating and maintaining lean muscle mass. But that doesn’t mean you should go to town on a juicy steak every night. “You can only absorb about 30 grams of protein at a time to utilize it for muscle group and repair,” says Pincus, who recommends that you spread protein consumption throughout the day, about 4 ounces with each serving. Not sure how to incorporate healthy lean protein into your mealtime routines? Stollman suggests 2 tablespoons of nuts or nut butter, 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt, either dairy or soy, 2 ounces of tune, 4 tablespoons of hummus, 4 ounces of tofu, or 1 egg, with each meal or snack.
Be mindful when eating
While most of us might wolf our meals down at our desks or in front of the TV, savoring your food may is better for achieving a healthier weight. Recent research shows that the faster people ate, the more they ate because the hormone that signals that you’re full, cholecystokinin (CCK), takes about 20 minutes to kick in. If you inhale your food, you might consume more than you mean to without realizing you’re full. Nutritionist Keri Gans also suggests maintaining a regular dining schedule as an important component to mindful eating habits.
Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep
Don’t cave into that extra episode of Stranger Things: Getting a quality night’s is a critical component of a healthy metabolism. “Too little sleep appears to wreak havoc with leptin and ghrelin, two hormones that regulate appetite,” says nutritionist Elisa Zied. “When you don’t sleep well, you feel hungrier and you tend to eat more and choose more nutrient-poor foods.”
Limit screen time before bed
It’s no secret that experts recommend putting away blue-light devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, at least an hour before bed to improve sleep quality. However, a recent pilot study from Northwestern University shows that exposure to blue-light at night can impact glucose metabolism. Although the exact correlation is still being studied, John La Puma, MD, suggests ceasing exposure to blue light two hours prior to hitting the sack. “It resets melatonin levels so that getting to sleep becomes harder, and too little sleep means weight gain for most people,” says Dr. La Puma.
Enjoy a cup of coffee and tea
“Caffeine can increase your metabolism up to 8 percent,” says Stollman. “Brewed tea kicks it up another notch by boosting your metabolism by 10 percent.” Green tea goes above and beyond thanks to its catechins, and the effects add up. Pincus recommends three to four cups a day to potentially burn up to 50 to 100 calories. However, it’s important to refrain from using this an excuse to indulge in flavored lattes or sugary green tea drinks from the store. “Don’t make it into dessert—that defeats the whole purpose,” says Gans.
Don’t overly restrict calories
Severely limiting caloric intake can tricking your body into thinking it’s starving. In her book Thin for Life: 10 Keys to Success from People Who Have Lost Weight and Kept it Off, Anne Fletcher writes that “if you cut back on calories, your body protects itself from this state of semi-starvation by slowing down the rate at which it burns food.” While skipping a meal or two might see positive short-term effects, it can be harmful in the long run.
Don’t forego breakfast
Running out the door instead of chowing down on some eggs could slow down your metabolism throughout the day. “If you skip protein at breakfast, you lose the opportunity in your day to feed your muscles,” says Pincus. “You can’t double up at dinner since your body can’t utilize more than four ounces at a time.”
Spice it up
Capsaicin, present in spicy foods like chili and red pepper flakes, might boost metabolism by up to 8 percent. As always, don’t use this as an excuse to eat unhealthier foods like greasy takeout. “Sprinkle on red pepper flakes on eggs in the morning,” advises Gans. “You could even make fish, chicken, or lean beef a little spicier for dinner.”
Keep moving, even if you’re at your desk
It’s not just about being a gym rat. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that non-exercise related activity, such as tapping your foot or fidgeting at your desk, can help keep off fat. To integrate more movement into your everyday routine, Pincus suggests opting for a standing or transitional desk, or just making sure you don’t spend the entire workday sedentary. “Set a timer to walk around your office every half an hour, do a few squats, something to keep the body moving,” she says.
Change up your commute
A recent study by the Royal Society for Public Health found that while a long commute to work obviously decreases physical activity and might eat into time spent at the gym, it can also lead to decreased sleep time and a 29 percent increase in food consumption—and usually unhealthier food at that, since there is less time to prepare meals. Though some people might not have the means (or the climate) to avoid driving or public transportation, subbing in walking or biking for part of the trip could have you feeling more energetic and lean.