Metabolism gets a bad rap. Doesn’t matter if it’s “fast” or “slow”, we’ve all got one. When faced with unwanted weight, our metabolism often gets the blame.
Simple dietary modifications and exercise habits can make a big difference in your metabolism, Dr. Holly Lofton, assistant professor of surgery and medicine and Director of the Medical Weight Management Program at NYU Langone told TODAY.
Knowing how your metabolism functions — separating facts from false claims — can help make it work for you!
1. Fact or false? High-intensity interval training (HIIT) boosts metabolism.
Fact! It’s a great way to boost metabolism because you’re getting both a cardiovascular and metabolic boost at the same time. Using the HIIT strategy will result in more post-exercise oxygen consumption, meaning you’ll keep burning calories even after the workout.
It’s simple as doing jump jacks behind your desk until you feel yourself huffing and puffing.
Lofton recommends tabata training, which consists of eight rounds of an intense specific exercise at intervals of of 20-seconds-on, 10-seconds-off.
When your heart rate is increasing, your body is using more energy and burning more calories. This is a good for a quick temporary metabolism boost. For a permanent increase to your metabolism build more muscle.
Related: How to work out in 10 minutes flat!
2. Fact or false? It's better to workout in the morning and sleep less.
False! The amount of rest you get each night affects more than just your mood and productivity the next day. Researchers have found that the amount you sleep affects your metabolism. When you're sleep-deprived it's harder to manage blood sugar levels and you may be hungrier for high-carb foods.
Seven hours of sleep is important for adults because it allows the body the time it needs to do a thorough check of its fat mass. Think of an MRI and how it scans the whole body. Your brain and hormones work together; if you lose that seventh hour of sleep, the body doesn’t get that check — which can lead to unwanted fat storage instead of loss.
Related: 7 hours of sleep may be all you need
3. Fact or false? Everything eaten late-night turns to fat.
False! If you're consuming the right foods, eating late at night shouldn't derail your diet.
However, people often go for junk food — high fat and high carb — in the wee hours. Instead of focusing on the time you're eating, more attention should be placed on what and how much you're eating.
Having a meal late at night isn't any worse than eating at any other point during the day provided the meal consists of healthy foods (and not a bucket of ice cream). Lofton compares it to fueling up a car: the time of day you fill it isn't going to impact how far you'll go
4. Fact or false? Our metabolic rates can't change.
False! While it's true that genetics plays some part in determining our metabolic rates, but people can boost their metabolism by increasing their fluid intake (water), protein intake and muscle mass of large muscle groups of the back, legs and arms.
Metabolism tends to get slower as you lose weight, so build muscle as you lose weight. Muscle burns more calories per hour than fat, which means that people with lean, muscular bodies need more calories to function than people with a higher percentage of body fat.
5. Fact or false? You should guzzle water throughout the day to burn more calories.
Fact! Researchers have found that consuming water may have a positive impact on how many calories you burn. It's due to a process called thermogenesis — where the body must burn calories to warm the water up to body temperature. Think of water like a fat cell busting juice. To get rid of fat cells you need water to lyse them. And when you’re dehydrated the body doesn’t like losing weight.
Related: 10 health benefits of drinking tea
6. Fact or false?: Green tea and chili peppers will boost metabolism.
False! There are no magic foods that will speed up metabolism and there is no replacement for exercise. The route to healthy weight loss is through portion control and a balanced diet filled with nutrient-rich foods, not through a diet doused in chili peppers.
Chilis may make you sweat, but that’s about it. There is also some research out there that with green tea can help you lose weight, but it has to be a very high quality green tea extract, which is not readily available at stores — and you'd have to drink more than 8 cups a day.
Remember, there is no replacement for exercise.