Let’s face it. Many of us have fallen off of the fitness wagon. Studying, hanging out, and just not being in the mood to get out and exercise, often get in the way of staying in shape. If you’re hoping to get back into fighting form for the summer but are finding yourself at a loss when it comes to seeing results, Her Campus has 10 tips for boosting your metabolism.
We’ve spoken to health experts in the fields of exercise and nutrition who’ve dispelled myths about metabolism and have advice on what you can do to boost what you’ve got.
1. Pump iron
According to Martha Tillman, director of the South Forty Fitness Center at Washington University in St. Louis, and Jumoke Solar, personal trainer and health and wellness presenter, strength training is an excellent way to boost your metabolism. “One pound of muscle burns 5-14 calories a day,” says Jumoke. “And your metabolism will burn an extra 25-70 calories a day.”
Since muscle burns more calories than fat, focus on building muscle rather than just blasting calories. Don’t shy away from the weight rooms on campus just because they’re often filled with hulking, grunting, amateur body builders. If you need tips on how to get started, check out HC’s guide to strength training and make sure to consult a professional if you want to learn the best routine for you.
2. Spice up your life
Since a new food is constantly touted as having magical nutritive powers, you might be a little skeptical about what really works. However, Karen Ansel, MS, RD, CDN and American Dietetic Association Spokesperson notes that there are, in fact, bitter and spicy metabolism-boosting options out there. Ansel mentions that green tea extract and capsaicin in chilies and red pepper have been shown to moderately increase metabolism.
Some studies, such as one published in the British Journal of Nutrition and another in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, noted that adding red pepper to meals boosted metabolism by as much as 20% for about 30 minutes. Since the body expended extra energy cooling itself down, the effect was a noticeable (though short-lived), solution.
3. Chow down on more protein
Ever wonder why protein shakes seem to be popular food staples among bodybuilders? According to Ansel, it’s because eating protein may increase metabolism by helping to build muscle. Unlike carbs, protein increases muscle mass, which helps to boost metabolism in conjunction with a strength training routine. Additionally, in an interview with Web M.D., another registered dietitian, Molly Kimball, reported that protein is helpful because it “generally requires about 25% more energy to digest.”
Since the body works harder to digest protein than it does other sorts of foods, meals or snacks that are high in protein are often good alternatives to snacks that are only high in calories or carbohydrates. Some high-protein foods include hard-boiled eggs, slices of apples with a two-tablespoon portion of peanut butter, or a handful of almonds.
4. Don’t skimp on the fish
Researchers from the University of Western Ontario noted that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish (and flaxseed) oil boosted metabolism by “[decreasing] levels of fat-storage enzymes” in the body.
If you have trouble finding good, fresh fish in your school cafeteria, try looking up a tasty recipe online and preparing your own. Grilled or sautéed fish isn't difficult to prepare (and this is coming from a cooking novice!), and eating more of it might help jumpstart your body’s metabolism.
5. Keep a water bottle handy
The “8x8 rule” (8 eight-ounce glasses of water a day) is as popular as the apple-a-day saying, but it’s not just talk. In two separate studies, German scientists at the Franz-Volhard Clinical Research Center in Berlin, discovered that drinking 6 to 7 cups of water a day increased metabolic rate by 30% in both men and women, for 30-40 minutes.
While Leslie Bonci, a spokesperson from the American Dietetic Association was quick to clarify that drinking water does not “flush fat” out of the system, the results of the German study noted that “up to 40% of the increase in calorie burning is caused by the body’s attempt to heat the ingested water.” So if you’re a fan of coffee, soda, juice, or tea, make sure to include water in the rotation and keep a water bottle in your purse at all times.