Your basal metabolic rate — the energy your body expends at rest — is generally determined by your genetics, but new research shows you can trick your body into burning calories more efficiently.
HEALTH magazine contributor Samantha Heller offers seven tips that can help boost your metabolism and lead to a stronger, healthier, leaner body.
Here are the best metabolism boosters:
Stoke your system with B vitamins and magnesium
- B vitamins: B vitamins are key players in DNA synthesis, the central nervous system, metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein and energy production. Inadequate amounts of B6, B12, folate, thiamin and niacin can leave you feeling depressed and fatigued, slow the body’s metabolism and increase your risk for chronic diseases. Get the bulk of your B’s from food, where they pair up with other vitamins and minerals for a complete synergy of action. Foods high in the B’s include: spinach, asparagus, beans (navy, soy, black beans), melon, broccoli, fish, poultry and eggs.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is a mineral needed by every cell in your body and is used in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including proper muscle, nerve and heart function, protein synthesis and energy metabolism. The National Institutes of Health reports that most Americans are not getting enough magnesium in their diets for optimal health. Boost your intake of high magnesium foods to give your metabolism a boost. Go green with your vegetables. Green vegetables such as spinach provide magnesium because the center of the chlorophyll molecule contains magnesium. Other excellent sources of magnesium include: halibut, nuts such as almonds, cashews and peanuts, soybeans (edamame), whole-grain cereals, oatmeal, and legumes such as black-eyed peas and lentils.
Start your day smart
Want to increase your metabolism? Eat breakfast. Studies indicate that eating breakfast may increase resting metabolism by 10 percent and reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes. Make sure it’s a healthy morning with whole-grain cereal and fruit, whole-wheat toast and peanut butter or fat-free yogurt and a handful of granola.
Speed play and strength train
- Speed play (aka Fartlek) — Fartlek, commonly known in the U.S. as interval training, is the Swedish word for “speed play.” Interval training or speed play is a great way to pump up your metabolism and make your workouts more fun. Interval training alternates short bursts of intense activity with lower intensity activity. For example; alternating sprints with a slow jog, or powering up a hill followed by an easy downhill lope. Interval training teaches the heart and muscles to use oxygen more efficiently. A few studies have found that interval training alters the mitochondria (the enginelike organelles that produce energy in cells) to burn more fat. You will likely burn more calories, increase your metabolic rate and your level of fitness at a faster rate than with your old familiar workout.
- Strength training — As we get older we tend to lose muscle, gain fat and our metabolism slows down as a result. One way to combat this metabolic slowdown is with regular strength or resistance training. Resistance training stimulates muscles to become stronger and healthier, providing your body with beneficial improvements in strength and function. Resistance training also reduces fat mass and increases muscle mass. Research suggests that resistance training may even increase life expectancy.
Stop slashing calories
Depriving your body of fuel is a surefire way to slow it down. Food stimulates energy metabolism needed for digestion in a process called “dietary induced thermogenesis.” When you slash calories, the calories burned by eating are greatly diminished and so is your metabolic rate. Restricting calories also signals the body that there is no food available, so it tries to conserve stores of carbohydrate and fat by slowing down its metabolism. The best way to keep your metabolism revved is to eat regular meals with snacks when necessary to give your body a constant supply of healthy fuel.
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