Simple Steps to Boost Metabolism
Red wine, resistance training and sleep are just a few of the tricks to speed up a slow metabolism.
Of all the health benefits tied to red wine, perhaps the most surprising is that it can help people shed pounds by boosting metabolism.
But don’t start guzzling Gallo just yet.
There is no magic food, supplement or exercise that can shift your metabolism into overdrive; however, there are foods and behaviors that, all together, can rev it up, says Dr. Zaid Jabbar, Edward Medical Group, Bolingbrook, Ill.
Along with exercising and eating an overall healthy diet, drinking one glass of red wine at bedtime might help with weight loss and maintenance, Jabbar says. Other foods that have been shown to increase metabolism are hot peppers, green tea and carob fiber, but of these, only green tea in large amounts (at least five cups a day) is particularly effective on its own.
Therefore, a long-term strategy for optimizing a metabolism should focus on resistance training to build more lean muscle mass, because muscles require a lot of energy to maintain. In fact, “Muscles burn calories when you’re just sitting there,” Jabbar says.
Aerobic exercise is important, too. It can help to split hourlong workouts into two half-hour sessions in the morning and evening, or split a half-hour workout into two 15-minute sessions because after each cardiovascular workout the body continues to burn calories for several hours, Jabbar says. By working out twice, people can burn calories all day long, potentially around the clock.
After a workout, reach for protein rather than carbohydrates because some studies show that carbs halt the afterburn, Jabbar adds.
Aside from exercise, “The ultimate way to boost metabolism is by eating things that the body uses a lot of energy to digest,” such as lean protein, Jabbar says.
Also, “Eat foods that give you energy instead of dragging you down,” says Lyssie Lakatos, a New York-based dietitian and co-author of “The Secret to Skinny” (HCI, 2009). “The trick is to combine energy-revving carbs – whole-grain carbs, fruits, vegetables, beans – with a little protein and fat to slow digestion.” The more energy a person has, the more likely she is to move and sustain a higher metabolic rate, Lakatos says.
Sleep also plays an important metabolic role, and not just because it restores energy. “Not sleeping enough tends to increase our appetite hormones, whereas getting enough sleep helps regulate them,” says Los Angeles-based dietician Andrea Giancoli, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
Plus, “Just think about it – if you’re sleeping, you’re not eating,” she adds.
The body starts noticing it’s not getting food, though, and that’s why breakfast is so important, Lakatos says. “It gets your body out of conservation mode and provides you with the fuel you need to start your day and be more active.”
“Trial after trial has shown that people who eat breakfast eat less calories throughout the day and are better able to maintain a healthy weight,” she adds.
Eat multiple small meals instead of two or three large ones. “Metabolism is like a fire that needs logs. If you throw a ton of logs on it, you kill it. But if there aren’t enough logs, it dies out,” Jabbar says. “You want to feed it a little at a time.”
Also, drink seven or eight glasses of ice-cold water a day because cold beverages make your body burn calories to maintain its temperature, and water fills you up, Jabbar says.
For those looking to incorporate some of the proven metabolism-boosting foods into their diet, remember to make substitutions. “Always be careful because you want to get the benefits without adding calories,” Giancoli says. And try using salsa for something other than chips. “You might be getting a lot of bang for your buck because it has veggies,” along with the hot peppers, she adds.
Any single food’s effect on metabolism will be small. “No one has done a study putting all these things together,” Giancoli says, “but if you’re really careful with your diet and you’re watching calories, these little things might add up.”
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