Diet-to-Go Blog
  1. How to Boost Your Metabolism & Accelerate Weight Loss

    Everyone wants a faster metabolism, right? Faster metabolism = more calorie burn = weight loss. Whether it’s your activity level, eating schedule, diet, genes, or body composition that’s slowing you down, I’ve created a metabolism-boosting checklist that will get you burning calories in no time!

    ✓ Pump Some Iron

    According to Gary Hunter, PhD, a professor of human studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, if you perform strength-training just a couple of times a week, you’ll reverse 50% of the seemingly inevitable metabolism slow-down that comes with age. (Sadly, after 40 years of age your metabolism begins to steadily decline.) Try this 15-minute workout in the morning before you get ready for work, or in the evening before you veg out in front of your computer or TV.

    ✓ Add Intervals

    Equate the energy (calories) that it takes to perform intervals in cardiovascular exercise to managing stop and go traffic. It takes more gasoline to stop and start than it does to cruise along the highway. Whether you’re cycling, running, walking or swimming, intervals will help you burn more calories over the same amount of time. The same principle applies to using a rowing or elliptical machine at the gym.

    Adding intervals also increases your excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. EPOC is the discovery that your body can take hours to recover from an intense workout (one that is hard enough that you can't hold a conversation) and return to its previous resting metabolic rate. This means that even after your workout, your metabolism will be elevated and working harder for you.

    ✓ Sip Some Caffeine

    Coffee lovers rejoice! According to WebMD, “taken in moderation, one of coffee's benefits may be a short-term rise in your metabolic rate. Caffeine can help you feel less tired and even increase your endurance while you exercise.” Hot tea and unsweetened iced-tea also fit the bill – just make sure your caffeinated treat doesn’t include too many extra calories from added fat or sugar, and that your overall caffeine intake doesn’t interfere with getting enough sleep each night.


    ✓ Eat Breakfast

    You’ve heard it before but it bears repeating – breakfast is the most important meal of the day! The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is the largest study in the United States of long-term successful weight loss and weight maintenance. The study tracks over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time.

    How’s this for proof that starting your day with a healthy meal is the way to go? Four out of five (or 78%) of participants in the NWCR eat breakfast every day. Try fiber-rich oatmeal, protein-rich Greek yogurt or a veggie omelet, which is loaded with healthy fats and lean protein.


    ✓ Focus on Protein

    The fact that harder to digest foods can increase metabolism is the process known as the thermic effect, which is the caloric cost of digesting and processing different macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrate) in your diet. Since your body burns many more calories digesting protein than it does when digesting fat or carbohydrates, replacing some carbs in your diet with lean, protein-rich foods can boost metabolism. Try fish, lean steak, chicken or turkey breast, low-fat, minimally processed soy products, non-fat dairy, nuts or eggs to boost daily protein intake.

    On the flip-side, here are some common mistakes that dieters make that can actually slow metabolism.

    Not Eating ENOUGH

    Nutritionists agree that you must eat enough calories to at least match your basil metabolic rate, or BMR, which is the number of calories you’d burn if you stayed in bed all day. Most experts would say that 1200 calories per day is a good starting point, although BMRs differ since it is calculated according to height, weight, age and gender. In order to be successful at weight-loss, you must consume at least this many calories on average per day. Any fewer, and your body will go into starvation mode and start to hold on to calories instead of burn them – the exact opposite of what we want.

    Not Including Healthy Fats

    Omega-3 fatty acids have many benefits to the body and brain including mood-boosting, cognitive development (especially in young children), healthy skin, and cholesterol-lowering. Try including salmon, walnuts, flax seeds and flax oil, in your diet two or three times a week.

    Not Staying Hydrated

    Water not only aids in digestion, but increases energy levels. Research has shown that dehydration of even 1% can decrease performance in athletes. Carry a water bottle with you on errands, at work, and especially when hitting the gym. Many foods can hydrate too. Cucumbers, apple slices, watermelon or sweet red bell peppers, all consist of over 90% water. Also turn to milk and Greek yogurt, which contain about 80% water.

    Check out these websites for more information on metabolism boosting tricks of the trade:

    Author: Kristen Ciuba
    Kristen is a Nutritionist at Diet-to-Go, based in Lorton, VA. She tries to “practice what she preaches” by fitting in healthy foods and cooking, challenging exercise, and quality time with family and friends every day!  


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