If you’ve been a perfect angel when it comes to eating right and exercising regularly, but the scale still won’t budge, then your devil of a metabolism may be to blame!
Metabolism is the process by which your body makes and uses energy (calories) for everything from absorbing nutrients to running a marathon. The more calories your body burns per day, the easier it is to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. What you eat, how you eat it, the type of exercise you do and even how you sleep can all impact your metabolism. So if you feel like your metabolism is running at a sloth-like speed, here are 5 tricks that’ll rev up your body’s motor and drive the numbers on the scale down.
Drink plenty of water.
You need to stay hydrated to flush out all the toxins and metabolic byproducts your body creates daily. As you lose weight, you create even more toxic byproducts as fat is burned. If these products build up in your body, they can drain your energy as well as affect your health. Drinking at least 64 ounces of water daily will help to ensure you’re hydrated. Cold water may also give your metabolism a small boost because some energy is required to heat the body, so try drinking a glass of ice water with each meal.
Tip: If the taste of plain water bores you, jazz it up by adding a slice of fresh lemon, lime, or even cucumber to your water for a refreshing change.
Challenge your muscles.
Right around age 30, your metabolism starts to slow. This age-related decline in metabolism is due to a loss of lean body mass or muscle. In fact, you lose about 2 percent of your muscle mass yearly. But don’t worry, you can counterbalance this! Muscle is the most important predictor of how well you burn calories and body fat. Regular strength training with weights or resistance bands (aim for at least twice a week) is essential to building muscle mass and slowing age related muscle loss.
Tip: The more muscle mass you maintain and develop, the more calories you’ll burn each day — even as you’re sleeping! Another perk for resistance training is that your metabolism will stay elevated for hours after you finish your workout.
Don’t skip breakfast!
When you skip breakfast, you sabotage the rest of your day and your weight loss efforts. Studies show that people who eat a healthy breakfast weigh less than people who don’t. In fact, even The National Weight Control Registry, which is a registry of people who have maintained a 30-pound (or more) weight loss for at least a year, shows that 78 percent of participants eat breakfast daily and 90 percent report eating breakfast at least five days per week.
When you eat breakfast, you’re doing two things. One: You’re jump-starting your metabolism. Your body doesn’t begin to burn calories as effectively until you eat something. Two: You’re preventing excessive hunger that’s more than likely to occur later in the day if you skip a meal, which can lead to cravings and overeating.
Tip: Breakfast doesn’t have to be big or consist of only typical breakfast food items. A sandwich or small plates of dinner leftovers are just as effective as a breakfast as an egg white omelet. Need a quick breakfast on the run? Toss together almond milk, frozen berries, low fat cottage cheese, cinnamon and a splash of vanilla into the blender. Blend, pour, and go!
Although it’s easier said than done, lowering your stress level is essential if you want to successfully lower the scale. Both physical and emotional stress stimulate the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, a steroid that slows metabolism and promotes fat storage, especially in the abdominal area. Avoiding stress, or reducing stress, can help decrease the production of this hormone and in turn elevate your metabolism.
Tip: For a quick stress reducer, try taking slow, deep breaths. You can breathe deeply anywhere and in any situation, and just the act of doing it slows your heart rate and helps lower stress hormones.
Hit the hay.
When your body doesn’t get enough sleep ( 7 to 8 hours a night), the physical stress placed on your body is even higher. This can lead to an elevated production of cortisol along with other stress hormones, which can promote weight gain. In addition, fatigue can trigger food cravings and increased appetite, making it challenging to stay on track with a healthy eating plan. To make matters worse, lean body mass is regenerated in the last few hours of restful sleep, which, if missed, can lead to a smaller percent of lean body mass production, slowing metabolism.
Tip: If you only sleep a few hours per night, try adding 30 minutes onto your sleep schedule every week until you can successfully sleep for at least 7 hours.