We don’t have total control over how much we can rev up our metabolism; a lot is determined by age, gender and genetics. Men tend to have a higher metabolism than women because of higher muscle mass. And our metabolism slows as we age (especially after age 40). But there are some things you can do to give your metabolism a boost.
- Build lean muscle. The best way to do this is through lifting weights, but that doesn’t mean being a slave to the gym. “At the supermarket choose a hand basket instead of a cart,” says Atlanta dietitian Marisa Moore. “Do bicep curls while waiting in the checkout line. While watching TV, do calisthenics instead of bingeing on snacks.”
- Stand. Recent research points out the health dangers of sitting for more than six hours a day. And, Moore says, we burn 25 percent more calories when we’re on our feet. So stand up while you’re on that phone call.
- Eat breakfast. “Everybody knows breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” Moore says, “but it plays a vital role in increasing our energy level and keeping our metabolism at a higher level throughout the day.” But that first meal doesn’t have to be a full-blown, sit-down affair. Try a banana and a handful of almonds.
- Drink plenty of water. “Evidence shows when we don’t get enough water, the body tends to be slightly dehydrated which can make metabolism sluggish,” Moore says.
- Go green. Green tea, that is. Polyphenols in green tea (not the sweetened kind) have been shown to boost metabolism, but only when combined with caffeine. Find green tea bitter? Moore suggests trying kinds flavored with mint or vanilla.
Bottom line? “People have to be aware that there’s not any one food that’s a silver bullet when it comes to boosting metabolism,” Moore says. “You have to really work on being physically active and building lean muscle. With that you even burn calories while you sleep!”