The total amount of calories you use each day depends on three factors. The first is your resting metabolic rate, or the number of calories your body burns to regulate your temperature and to fuel the function of your organs. The second factor is activity, including exercise, fidgeting and shivering. The third is the energy you burn to digest the food you eat. Rev up your metabolic engine to increase the number of calories you burn.
Eat Foods High in Protein
Chow down on protein-rich foods like eggs, chicken, fish and beans to speed up your metabolism. Your body works harder to digest foods high in protein, and that extra effort is fueled by burning more calories. You'll also feel full longer since protein takes more time to digest. Get 18 to 20 percent of your daily calories from protein to attain the metabolism-boosting benefit, according to Dr. Liz Applegate, director of sports nutrition at the University of California at Davis.
Build muscle to give your metabolism a boost. Muscle is an active tissue that requires energy to maintain itself, so the number of calories you burn increases when you build more of it. Gaining 4.5 pounds of muscle can increase the number of calories you burn by about 50 per day, say Paige Kinucan and Len Kravitz, Ph.D., of the University of New Mexico.
Drink water to boost your metabolism. According to a study reported in the journal "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise," dieters who drank 2 cups of water heated to 98 degrees Fahrenheit experienced a 30 percent increase in metabolism, which burned approximately 25 calories. Heating the water accounted for 40 percent of the calories burned. Drinking about 8 cups of water may burn up to 100 calories a day, the researchers noted.
Don't Eat Too Little
To keep your metabolism humming, get the calories your body needs for optimal function. While it's true that to lose weight you must burn more calories than you take in, that process can be thwarted by restricting your calories too much. Eating too few calories can cause your body to protect itself from starvation by slowing down your resting metabolic rate by as much as 20 percent, according to Kinucan and Kravitz. This translates to fewer calories burned and slowed weight lost.
Get Vitamin C
Eat foods high in vitamin C, such as kiwi fruit, oranges, papaya and strawberries, to maximize your fat-burning metabolism during exercise. According to a small study conducted at Arizona State University, people who had low vitamin C levels burned 25 percent less fat while walking for 60 minutes on a treadmill. The study subjects also experienced more fatigue during exercise, which was also thought to be related to their vitamin C deficiency.
Do Vigorous Aerobic Exercise
Exercise vigorously, and you may speed up your metabolism for hours afterward. At the Human Performance Laboratory of Appalachian State University in North Carolina, young male study participants who rode a bike vigorously for 45 minutes experienced a 14-hour increase in metabolism that resulted in the loss of approximately 200 calories beyond what they had burned while exercising.
- Medical News Today: Metabolism Is Modifiable With The Right Lifestyle Changes
- Medline Plus: Vitamin C
- The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism: Water-Induced Thermogenesis
- University of New Mexico: Controversies in Metabolism
- Nutrition and Metabolism: Marginal Vitamin C Status Is Associated With Reduced Fat Oxidation During Submaximal Exercise In Young Adults
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: A 45-minute Vigorous Exercise Bout Increases Metabolic Rate For 14 Hours
- UnitConversion.org: Kilojoules to Kilocalories (Th) Conversion Calculator
Gianna Rose is a registered nurse certified in hospice and palliative care, as well as a certified wellness coach. She completed Duke Integrative Medicine's Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course in 2009. Rose also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design.