Long gone are the days of our youth, when we could eat what we wanted and never worried about exercise thanks to a ridiculously fast metabolism. But age isn’t the only thing that can cause your metabolism to take a hit. Diets poor in nutrients, fad dieting, and even environmental toxin accumulation can all contribute to a waning metabolism, which in turn puts you at risk of lowered bone density, weak muscles, lack of energy, and of course, difficulty burning calories and keeping off the pounds.
Luckily, there are a number of steps you can take to naturally reverse your declining metabolism and give it a much-needed boost.
Lift something heavy
Lifting heavy objects builds muscle, and studies show that building muscle is instrumental in boosting metabolism. In a study published in The Journals of Gerontology, a group of men between the ages of 60 and 75 were given a resistance training program and were closely monitored during the course of the 16 weeks of training. The study found that those in the resistance training group lost body fat, gained muscle, and achieved metabolic improvements similar to those of young men. The takeaway from this is that introducing weight-lifting or weight-bearing workouts into your weekly exercise routine can result in significant improvements to your metabolism.
Don’t skimp on food
Those who are suffering from weight gain, or are struggling with a sluggish metabolism, tend to make the situation worse by skimping on meals or deliberately starving themselves in an attempt to keep the pounds off. This actually works against you, because if you don’t give your body the fuel it needs, your metabolism will automatically slow itself down to conserve fuel. Some researchers have even gone so far as to suggest that operating on an empty stomach may be worse than operating on a stomach filled with doughnuts.
Either way, lowering your food intake to the point where you’re constantly hungry isn’t the answer. Eat healthy food when you’re hungry to ensure your body gets the fuel it needs to operate efficiently, but don’t overeat.
In addition to using weight-bearing exercise to encourage muscle mass and hence metabolic improvements, exercising regularly throughout the week is essential for re-establishing a strong metabolism. Doing a minimum of three high-intensity, 15-minute (or more) workouts per week has been shown to be sufficient for maintaining healthy muscles, while every other day you can do something fun and laid-back. This can include going for a 30-minute walk, jog, or cycle — or even rollerblading for 20 minutes.
Move quickly and spontaneously
Studies have shown that our metabolism increases when the stress hormone cortisol, along with adrenaline, elevate rapidly then drop back down just as quickly. One of the best, healthiest and easiest ways to get this rise and fall of your stress hormones is to introduce small, rapid movements into your day. These can include walking quickly for 30 seconds, sprinting to your car in the parking lot, or doing 10 squats in your cubicle or office at work. Get creative!
Get plenty of omega-3s
Omega-3s are highly anti-inflammatory and help to regulate blood sugar. For this reason, they can assist your body in regulating and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Ensure you’re getting plenty of omega-3-rich foods in your diet every day, including avocados, walnuts, chia seeds, wild-caught salmon and grass-fed beef.
The health community has long ummed and ahhed on this topic, but the verdict is finally in: snacking is good for your metabolism! Grazing on healthy foods throughout the day (no, this is not an excuse for you to go crazy on chips and candies) helps to keep your metabolism operating steadily and also prevents blood sugar spikes.
Eat plenty of protein
If you’re big on meat, you’ll love this one. Your digestive system takes a long time to digest protein, particularly from animal sources. This means your body expends more energy breaking these foods down, which keeps your metabolism running at full speed for longer.
Get enough sleep
Many people don’t realize just how important sleep is to our health. It affects almost every aspect of our day-to-day lives, and this includes metabolism. Studies show that not getting enough sleep can seriously affect your metabolism and set you up for a day of poor digestion and weight gain. Make sure you set aside plenty of time to get the sleep you need.
Don’t be afraid of a little hot sauce
Capsaicin, a compound found in chili peppers (and therefore in most hot sauces and many Asian dishes), has been found to increase metabolic rates by as much as 30 percent. Not only this, spicy foods reduce hunger and keep us feeling satiated for longer. If you can’t handle the heat, consider getting your hands on a good-quality capsaicin supplement.
Diet is a huge part of maintaining a healthy metabolism. Here are 17 foods that will help you to supercharge your metabolism naturally.
Liivi is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and is training to become a doula. She inspires women to find peace and personal power by taking control of health and fertility naturally. Liivi‘s passion is ancestral nutrition and primal lifestyle design. She and her partner Will live between Toronto, Canada and Queenstown, New Zealand.