At the most basic level, there are two ways to lose weight, decrease the number of calories going into your body (diet), and to increase the number of calories your body uses each day, aka, to increase your metabolic rate.
Thankfully, there are numerous ways to boost your metabolic rate to help you to burn more calories and ultimately lose weight (or to make it easier to maintain your current weight). Below we take a look at some proven methods to boost your metabolism.
The amount of muscle you have plays a huge role in determining your metabolic rate, as muscle actively burns calories.
Increasing your muscle mass through muscle building exercises is the best way to consistently increase your daily calorie burn in the long term.
Fat, on the other hand, is not very metabolically active, as it just sits there, being fat. At rest, a pound of muscle burns 250% more calories than a pound of fat! That same muscle burns even more calories when it is being used. Retaining current muscle mass while dieting is just as important as building new muscle to keep metabolic rate high.
Exercise actually burns calories in three different ways; obviously the actual act of exercising burns calories. Doing muscle building exercise regularly will increase your muscle mass, which increases your metabolic rate in general. But exercise also boosts your metabolic rate for several hours after you finish exercising. Try High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), in addition to your muscle building exercise, for the biggest boost to your metabolic rate, even hours after you leave the gym.
The most important factor in increasing metabolic rate is resistance training, not cardio. Obviously cardio, HIIT, will help, but should be used along with strength training, not on its own.
The process of digesting food burns calories, but not all food has the same thermic value. Protein has the highest thermic value; for every 100 calories of pure protein eaten, the body burns 30 calories to digest it. Fat, on the other hand, has a very low thermic value of 3%, meaning that the body would only expend three calories in the process of digesting 100 calories of fat. Carbohydrates fall somewhere in the middle but are more variable; they typically have a thermic value of 5-10%, with simple sugars being easier to digest, but more complex carbohydrates, such as vegetables and whole grains, requiring slightly more effort.
Overall, the thermic effect of food may account for up to 10% of total calories expended daily! In order to maximise the benefits from the thermic value of food, increase your daily protein intake, whilst still monitoring your overall calorie intake (make cuts in other areas of your diet to keep your calorie intake under control. Eating enough protein also has other benefits, as the amino acids protein provides are needed by your body for cellular repair and growth, i.e. recovering from exercise, and developing new muscle mass and retaining current muscle mass. When protein intake is high, less muscle mass is lost during weight loss, helping to keep metabolic rate elevated. If that’s not enough to convince you to increase your protein intake, studies have shown that eating a high protein diet can actually help to suppress your appetite.
Thermogenesis is the process of heat creation in the body and a process that requires a lot of calories. Thermogenesis actually forms a huge part of your metabolic rate anyway, but by increasing it further, you can burn even more calories.
As we are warm blooded, our bodies regulate our temperature to 37 degrees Celsius. There is one theory that by putting yourself in a cold environment, your body needs to put in more effort to stay at 37 degrees, and so burns more calories. This is called Cold Induced Thermogenesis.
There are numerous ways that you could make the most of this process; turning down the thermostat in your home and sleeping with the window open are two options here.
Consider going for a swim in a cool water pool; not only does swimming burn a lot of calories as a whole body workout, but the contact with the cool water on your skin will cool you down a lot faster than contact with just cool air, forcing your body to work a lot harder (and burn a lot more calories) to heat your body.
Drinking water appears to cause a temporary but significant boost to your metabolic rate. One study found that drinking 16 ounces of water temporarily boosted the participants’ metabolisms by around 30%; the researchers concluded that increasing water intake by 1.5 litres (around 6 glasses) per day would increase the number of calories burnt by around 200 calories per day! Part of this increased calorie burn comes from the body heating the water to body temperature, and so it is likely that drinking ice-cold water could burn even more calories. The cue for thirst feels similar to the cue for hunger, so staying fully hydrated can help to keep appetite in check.
Green Tea contains both caffeine and an antioxidant called Epigallocatechin gallate, aka EGCG. Caffeine has been shown time and again to mildly increase your metabolic rate by increasing heart rate and body temperature, whilst EGCG increases thermogenesis. As an added bonus, unsweetened green tea is also a calorie free drink, containing antioxidants to help with overall health.
If you aren’t keen on drinking green tea, you could take a green tea supplement instead. In fact, there are numerous different supplements available that can increase your metabolic rate or that induce thermogenesis, including caffeine, capsaicin, and green tea.
The methods outlined above will all help to boost your metabolic rate, helping to give you an edge when losing weight. However, you will still only lose weight if you are also following a calorie controlled diet plan! Use these tips to help support other weight loss efforts!
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