Increasing your basal metabolism, the amount of energy that your body consumes at rest, can make it easier to lose weight. Your total calorie requirements are the sum of your basal metabolism and your activity-based metabolism. So how can we increase our basal metabolism? Here are some effective strategies:
- Make your body work harder to generate energy. Proteins and complex carbohydrates take more energy to break down than simple carbs. Adjust your diet away from sugary foods and more toward proteins, such as lean meats, and high fiber carbs. Even if you consume an equal number of calories, your body will work harder digesting the food, resulting in less energy that could be turned into fat if not used.
- Don’t let your body loaf. Digesting food is hard work for your body, so your metabolism ramps up every time you eat. When you skip a meal, your metabolism shifts into low gear. So, eat more often. Small meals spread throughout your day keep your metabolism pumping along. You don’t feel hungry even if you are reducing your total overall calorie intake. Don’t skip breakfast, instead eat breakfast twice!
- Drink a lot of water, especially ice cold water. Converting fat into energy requires a lot of water, so you don’t want to run dry. And warming cold water to your internal 98.6 degree body temperature takes energy, too, so pile on the ice cubes! Merely drinking water can temporarily boost your metabolism by nearly one third.
- Start each day right. When you wake up, your metabolism is just idling along. Some exercise and a light meal will kick it into gear, providing benefits that last all day. If you start your day hungry you think about food all day. If you start your day feeling satisfied, that lasts too!
- Exercise briefly, multiple times a day. Rather than spend 90 minutes in the gym, try to arrange your day so that you can get six 15 minute workouts. The “afterglow” effect, a higher metabolism rate that continues well beyond your exertion, will continue to burn calories while you’re not exercising. Win!
- Build some muscle. This is not easy, but it pays dividends. Muscle requires more energy to maintain than fat. In fact, studies show that building five pounds of muscle will result in losing 25 pounds of fat in one year. With no dieting! Plus, muscle is more compact than fat, so if you convert a few pounds of fat to muscle, your profile will be much slimmer even though you haven’t lost any weight.
So while aging makes our bodies more willing to convert our meals into fat, there are strategies that can shift the balance back toward our earlier years. Eating smart and exercising smart can make a real difference in your shape, without ever using the dreaded word “diet”!