Have you ever tried to lose weight and hit a point where the pounds didn’t seem to come off anymore? Does it seem harder to lose weight now than it was when you were younger? If you’ve answered yes to these questions, it may be time to jumpstart your weight loss. Here are a few things you can do to help burn those calories again—and hopefully get to or maintain your weight goal.
Metabolism is a fancy word for the rate or speed at which your body uses energy. The body needs energy to do everything: to breathe, to digest food, to think and, of course, to do physical activity. Just like your car runs on gas, your body derives the energy it needs from the foods you eat. When you’re young, your metabolism (sometimes called metabolic rate) is higher. That’s why you could eat almost anything, in any amount, and not gain weight—when you were young. But with age, the metabolism starts to slow down. Eating the same amount of food as you did in your 20s now makes you gain weight.
Starting at about the age of 25, metabolism tends to drop between 5 percent and 10 percent every decade. However, your genes play a role, too. The same calorie intake may translate into different weight gains for different people. Your genes, in part, determine how fast you burn calories.
Furthermore, men tend to have a faster metabolism than women—up to 15 percent faster. This is partially due to the fact that men naturally have more muscle mass than women, and the more muscle one has, the more calories one burns. Women, on the other hand, tend to have more fat, and their bodies hold onto it more than mens do. This might explain why women often have a harder time losing weight.
As you lose weight, your metabolism slows a bit because there’s less of you to energize. Your body doesn’t need as much energy as it did when you weighed more. Also, even when you lose weight the healthy way—by cutting back on food portions and being more active—you will lose some muscle along with fat. Less muscle mass means fewer calories burned.
12 Ways To Boost Your Metabolism
The good news is that there’s a lot that you can do to speed up your metabolism. Here’s how:
1 Build up your muscle mass.
You don’t need to become a bodybuilder, but the more muscle you have compared with fat, the more calories you’ll burn. Think of it this way: Each pound of muscle burns 6 calories each day, while each pound of fat burns only 2 calories a day. Be sure to include strength training at least three times a week as part of your physical activity.
2 Fit in fiber.
High-fi ber foods help keep your digestive tract healthy. One type of fi ber, called soluble fi ber, may help lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Fiber may also help boost metabolism because the body tries to digest it, which burns calories in the process. High-fiber foods include whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, and beans.
3 Drink water.
One study showed that people who drank eight or more glasses of water every day burned more calories than people who drank only four glasses of water each day.
4 Eat breakfast.
Your body stays in sleep mode all night, so give it a jump-start in the morning with a good breakfast. Choose a bowl of high-fiber cereal, some fruit and a healthy protein food, such as an egg, low-fat cottage cheese or some peanut butter. People who eat breakfast are more likely to lose weight than people who don’t.
5 Give your heart a workout.
Strength training builds muscle mass, but you also need aerobic activity to help burn calories. When you do aerobic activity, such as walking, jogging, swimming or using an exercise bike, you’ll keep burning calories even after you stop moving. You can get an even more beneficial workout by doing interval training, which means working hard for a couple of minutes, then slowing down to an easier pace.
6 Eat regularly.
If you think skipping meals helps cut calories, think again. It takes energy to burn energy. When you eat every few hours, you boost your metabolism. If you skip a meal or go too long without eating, your body goes into starvation mode and conserves calories.
7 Keep moving.
Make time for physical activity to help control your diabetes. A lso, try to move as often as you can during the day. Stand up and walk around when you’re on the phone, march in place when you watch television, or climb a few flights of stairs to help you burn calories and strengthen your muscles.
8 Eat enough.
As tempting as those lowcalorie diets can be, it’s best to avoid them. If you take in fewer than 1,000 calories per day, your metabolism will slow down because the body thinks it’s starving. Although it sounds funny, you need to eat to lose weight.
9 Include protein.
Make sure each of your meals contains protein. It takes more energy for your body to digest protein than carbohydrates. Also, protein helps maintain your muscle mass. Choose healthy proteins, such as skinless chicken or turkey, lean beef, eggs, fish, lowerfat cheese and tofu.
10 Spice it up.
Hot, spicy foods can also raise your metabolism for a short while.
11 Eat more fish.
Cold water, fatty fish—like salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring—contain healthy fish oils that may not only protect against heart disease, but may also help increase metabolism by about 400 calories per day.
12 Get plenty of sleep.
A lack of sleep can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and weight gain. When you’re short on sleep, certain hormones, like cortisol and ghrelin, kick in and increase your appetite. Try to get between seven and eight hours of sleep every night.