Your metabolism is the sum of everything your body does. Each time you eat, enzymes in your body break down the food and turn it into energy that keeps your heart beating, your brain thinking, and your blood pumping during a gruelling workout. A fast metabolism means more calories burned and more weight lost.
Alas – there are natural limitations to how fast it can go. While you can’t control how fast your body burns its calories, you can make changes to your daily routine that give your body more reason to burn, burn, burn.
Here’s a list of habits that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine, from morning to night.
Morning: Rise and shine
- Hydrate yourself
For obvious reasons, drinking water instead of high-calorie sodas and juices helps to keep your weight off.
What’s less obvious is that water is quite essential for smooth metabolic function. Water facilitates waste removal, which is tied to weight management. Studies also show that hydrating yourself the right amount can promote energy expenditure that adds 1.2 kg of weight loss per year.
This calorie-burning effect may be slightly stronger when you take your water iced, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.
Besides drinking it plain, also consider squeezing a whole lime or half a lemon into your glass. Flavonoids in citrus fruits protect your liver and kidneys from inflammation, and these are the organs that determine how healthy your metabolism is.
- Have a good breakfast
The first meal of the day serves to jumpstart your metabolism — especially if you do it within one hour of waking up. Otherwise, your body may enter starvation mode, whereby your metabolism slows down to conserve energy.
In one study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, participants who consumed 22% to 55% of their total calories at breakfast gained only 0.7 kilograms on average over four years. Those who ate zero to 11% of their calories in the morning gained nearly 1.3 kilograms.
Choose fibre-rich morning meals that are slow to digest, since they leave you satiated for a longer amount of time. You can never go wrong with wholegrain cereal, low-fat milk and a side of berries.
- Go for organic produce
Organic foods aren’t just for health fanatics – they have significant weight loss benefits as well.
What sets them apart is that they’re produced without using synthetic pesticides, among a whole range of other toxic substances. According to a 2004 study published in the International Journal of Obesity, these pesticides contain organochlorines, a toxin that causes severe metabolic slowdown when ingested.
Of course, organic foods command higher prices. Go easy on your wallet by choosing only certain foods to go organic with. This Dirty Dozen list may help you decide which fruits and vegetables are worth the splurge.
Afternoon: Work it!
- Have a protein-heavy lunch
Having protein at every meal helps build and maintain lean muscle mass, a tissue that is especially superb at burning calories.
Research has also revealed that protein causes the largest rise in thermic effect of food (TEF). The thermic effect of food (TEF) comes about with certain nutrients that require more energy to digest, and protein is one of them. Consuming protein can increase your metabolic rate by 15 to 30%, compared to 5 to 10% for carbs and 0 to 3% for fats.
That’s not all. Proteins maintain feelings of fullness much longer, which discourages you from snacking in between meals. One study found that people with high-protein diets ate around 440 fewer calories per day.
Aim for about 30 grams of protein at each meal — that’s the equivalent of about one cup of low-fat cottage cheese or a four-ounce boneless chicken breast.
- Have a cup of green tea
It’s always a good idea to clean your palette with green tea. Green tea extract not only increases oxidation of fat, it can also improve insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity is tied to your metabolism – it indicates how well your cells can absorb energy without converting some of it into fat.
As green tea is low in calories, it is also favourable for both weight loss and weight maintenance. Experts believe their metabolism-friendly properties may counteract the horrible weight loss plateau that comes with age. For maximum effect, let your tea steep for three minutes and drink it while it’s still hot.
- Go for a quick HIIT session or take it slow at strength training
You don’t have to invest too much time to make those workouts count! All you need is three 30-minute sessions per week for High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT.
In an Australian study, one group rode a stationary bike for 40 minutes at a steady pace, and the other group rode it for 20- minute intervals, alternating between sprint-pedalling and easy-pedalling. After 15 weeks, those who incorporated the sprints lost three times as much body fat. The key here is short but intense bursts.
You can also incorporate strength training into your workout. But to make it effective, take it slow. The next time you’re at the gym, count to three as you lower the weight back to the start position. Researchers found that slowing down the eccentric movement pumps up your metabolism for as long as 72 hours after the session.
Evening: Winding down
- Have something spicy for dinner
Spice up your evening meal with a dash of chilli powder.
Chilies, gingers and many other spicy foods can help to work your metabolism to a small extent. These are thermogenic foods, which contain compounds that encourage the process through which calories are converted into heat. One of such compounds, capsaicin, also increases energy expenditure of fat tissues.
Moderate your use of spicy condiments though – tabasco sauces and chilli packets are loaded with preservatives that cause more harm than good.
- Give the second mojito a pass
We all know that alcohol is fattening, but why? In addition to being massive calorie bombs, alcohol actually interferes with your metabolism.
Your body can’t store alcohol because it’s toxic. When you drink, your liver is forced to focus its attention on flushing the cocktail out of your system as soon as possible. As a result, it neglects to metabolise the sugars and fats from the actual food you’ve eaten.
One study showed that knocking back the equivalent of two mixed drinks (or glasses of wine or beers) can reduce your body’s metabolism by up to 73%.
- Go to bed early
Don’t stay up! When you sacrifice your shut-eye, you’re putting yourself at an increased risk of weight gain. The science is clear: Sleep deprivation quite literally causes your metabolism to become groggy. It has also been linked to increased blood sugar levels, which carry implications for how likely one is to develop diabetes.
All-nighters also upset your appetite, causing your hunger hormone ghrelin to go into overdrive. This explains why many people who are sleep-deprived often experience overwhelming cravings for unhealthy foods.
The bottom line
To fuel your metabolic engine, implementing these habits is an excellent place to start. Remember: weight loss is 70% diet and 30% exercise. Both are equally important, but you’ll get the most mileage from feeding your body with the right things.
Which of these nine habits do you want to start with? Share them with us in the comments below!
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CSH therapy® is a 3-step formula comprising of cupping therapy, scraping therapy and heat treatment. When paired with some easy, sensible eating habits, CSH therapy® can produce weight loss of 4 to 6kg in 4 weeks*. We’ve already helped more than 2500 people achieve their ideal weights, and we’re just getting started.
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*Does not apply to underweight individuals. Results vary between individuals.