by Bob Wright, Hilton Head Health Director of Education
If you are serious about boosting your metabolism, get serious about building some muscle. Muscles are the driving force behind your metabolism. Muscles are metabolically active, so the more you have, the higher your metabolic rate. Make sure to add some resistance (strength training) exercises to your program. You can lift free weights or use weight machines, do weight bearing calisthenics like pushups and squats, or use resistance bands.
This is especially important as we get older. Starting about age 35 – 40 we tend to lose muscle as we age, as a result, our metabolic rate drops. While maintaining or building muscle is the most important thing you can do boost your metabolism, it certainly not the only thing you can do. Each of the following tips have been shown to raise metabolism:
1. When you drink water, make sure it is cold. Researchers have found that that the body uses energy to warm the water.
2. Have smaller, more frequent meals. Each time you eat, your metabolic rate increases. If you divide a day’s worth of calories into 4 or 5 meals instead 2 or 3, the sum of those metabolic increases will be slightly higher.
3. Take a leisurely walk after a meal. When you eat, your metabolic rate goes up and when you walk, your metabolic rate goes up as well, so when you do them together it goes up a little more.
4. Drink a few cups of green tea per day. The combination of caffeine and other phytochemicals in tea a give your metabolic rate a boost.
5. If you like your food spicy, use hot peppers liberally. Capsaicin, the phytochemical in hot peppers that gives them their heat, can rev up your metabolism as well.
6. Make your exercise an HIT. HIT stands for high intensity training and for those who are fit enough and motivated to do it, you get an extra post-exercise burn as a result.
7. Be sure to consume high quality protein sources. Protein from fish, poultry, lean beef, and pork, eggs, nuts, legumes, and low or nonfat dairy foods is essential for preserving and building muscle. Also, make sure protein is part of your post work-out snack. A glass of skim or even chocolate milk or some peanut butter on a whole wheat sandwich gives your body what it needs to recover from a challenging workout.
8. Get 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night. Sleep deprivation lowers metabolic rate and saps your motivation to do the muscle building resistance exercises emphasized earlier.