When thinking about an efficient weight-loss routine, many people tend to go to two main pillars: intense dieting and just as intense exercise.
And indeed, when combined, the right diet and the right training regimen can yield the desired results in an impressively short time.
And while we’re not trying to discourage you from introducing either into your routine (on the contrary, actually), we’d also like to point you to a third, lesser-known aspect of weight loss: speeding up your metabolism.
What Is Metabolism?
Metabolism is an umbrella term that refers to all the different processes that go on inside your body to keep you alive.
Your metabolism doesn’t just activate when you’re working out, as some seem to think, but is active throughout the day – it’s what keeps you breathing, moving…
The Relationship Between Metabolism And Weight Gain
Some people think that their metabolic rate dictates how much weight they put on. They say it’s a “slow metabolism” and so look for ways to boost their metabolism, to burn those extra calories. That is not true, though.
You see, it’s only logical that the more weight you have, the higher your metabolic rate will be.
It takes more energy to light up a big house than a small one, and it’s the same for bodies.
As such, overweight people tend to burn more calories, on average, than a skinny person. However, the real issue is your calorie intake in this case.
You might burn more calories than a skinny person, but at the same time, you’re also consuming more. And that is the reason why you can’t seem to lose weight.
It’s not your metabolic rate, it’s your calorie intake.
But When Can A Sped-Up Metabolism Help You Lose Weight?
The above doesn’t mean that occasionally boosting your metabolism can’t be beneficial to your weight loss regimen.
When used together with a proper diet and a good workout routine, a boosted metabolism can help you burn through the calories and reach your ideal weight faster.
So below, we will look at some ways to easily speed up your metabolism.
One of the most popular metabolism-boosters out there is the ever-popular caffeine.
Studies suggest that caffeine encourages the fat stored inside your body to break away from fat cells and turn into essential fatty acids, which is what your metabolism uses to make energy.
The caffeine in coffee has been shown to speed up metabolism by 3% – 11%.
This is why a lot of workouts and weight loss supplements focus on caffeine. Of course, you can also get your dose from natural sources, such as coffee or green tea. However, there are some downsides. Some people don’t tolerate caffeine well, so always be attentive to your body.
Another potential downside of caffeine is that your body tends to build up a tolerance. So while your morning cup of coffee may help boost your metabolism at first, after a while, your metabolism will know to expect it, so it might not be as efficient.
Red peppers contain an important ingredient for your metabolism, called capsaicin. This acts in a similar way to caffeine and effectively encourages your body to burn calories at a faster rate, which is why many people turn to eat spicy foods to boost their metabolism.
However, studies conducted on the effects of capsaicin alone have found that it might only burn an average of 10 extra calories per meal, which means it would take about 6 years for you to burn through just one extra pound.
Still, when combined with a good workout and other metabolism-boosting ingredients, capsaicin can make a potent ally in the fight for the ideal figure!
3. HIIT it!
A HIIT (also known as High-Intensity Interval Training) is a type of workout that is very intense and focuses especially on burning fat.
It’s usually a very short routine (10-20 minutes, and sometimes even less than that) that contains exercises that get your heart rate up and that helps you burn calories.
Regular HIIT workouts have been shown to be more efficient for losing weight than other types of training, though we should warn you that these workouts are intense and that you should take care not to do more than your body can handle.
HIIT workouts are also inadvisable to people who have heart conditions or other major health concerns.
A 2012 study that followed a group of young men through 12 weeks of regular HIIT workouts concluded that they burned 4.4 pounds in that time, thanks to the workouts alone!
4. But also get enough sleep.
You know how when you’ve slept poorly, you tend to be more grouchy and also more hungry?
That’s because sleep deprivation has been shown to increase the levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) in your body and decrease the levels of leptin (the fullness hormone).
So right off the bat, when you’re not getting proper rest, you’re already taking in more calories, and as we saw earlier, that’s the main reason why you’re putting on weight.
Sleep deprivation also has a terrible effect on the metabolism, slowing down the rate at which your body can burn through fat, and encouraging more of it to be stored permanently inside the body.
Lastly, if you’re not getting enough sleep, chances are you’re also quite low on energy.
This might account for the lack of motivation to hit the gym or take regular exercise. It might also mean you lack the determination to eat healthily and stick to a diet. So all in all, make sure you get your beauty sleep.
5. Protein it up.
You might’ve heard it said that professional bodybuilders and athletes have a diet that’s rich in protein.
That’s not by accident. Protein has a special beneficial effect on your metabolism, through something known as the thermic effect of food (TEF).
The TEF takes place when you eat something fairly difficult to digest, such as protein. And as we mentioned earlier, your metabolism is responsible for everything your body does, so when you ingest protein, you’re practically forcing your metabolism to call for back-up.
How will that back-up manifest? Why, through more burned calories, of course, since your body is making an extra effort digesting the protein properly.
According to research, protein increases your metabolic rate by a whopping 15% to 30% (as opposed to the measly 5% – 10% boost you get from carbohydrates).
What’s more, protein increases the feeling of fullness when you eat enough of it.
A study showed that people whose diet consisted of 30% protein were likely to eat almost 500 fewer calories than people whose diet did not feature protein.
6. Drink more water!
So you must know that drinking water is preferable to other beverages such as soda, juice, or of course, alcohol. Why?
First of all, because these other refreshments contain sugar in them, which equates a higher calorie intake.
Second of all, drinking plenty of water has been linked to speeding up your metabolic rate for about an hour after you drink it. The study linked these results with drinking about 17 ounces of water in one sitting.
That’s roughly 2 cups, and while that may seem like a lot, it’s actually a smart move, and not just because of your metabolism. We tend to only sip water when we feel thirsty, but that’s because we’re dehydrated.
And that one sip isn’t helping. Drinking plenty of water in one go hydrates the body and helps it work better.
Tip: Cold water is said to work even better since it’s extra taxing to your metabolism, which has to burn calories to heat up the water so that it doesn’t disrupt your body.
7. Build those muscles.
Lastly, you shouldn’t forget about building and strengthening your muscles.
On average, people with more muscle tend to burn more calories even when they’re not doing anything special.
This is because each of your muscles takes up a handful of calories just by being.
So the more you work those muscles, the more calories they’ll take up even when you’re doing other things unrelated to working out.
So as we’ve seen, simply boosting your metabolism is not the “miracle cure” to weight gain, as some would have you believe.
And no, you won’t lose a substantial amount of weight just by squeezing in the occasional hot pepper.
But boosting your metabolism while also watching your calorie intake and making sure you get plenty of exercises can actually be beneficial and help you achieve your weight loss goals a whole lot faster.
That’s because rather than being separate things, all of these aspects (metabolism, diet, and workout) are part of the same bigger picture.
Do you have a favorite metabolism-boosting activity from the list above? Or perhaps you know one we’ve missed altogether? In any case, let us know in the comments below!