Your metabolism is the amount of energy, measured by the number of calories, your body uses in a single day. Your body is always burning calories, even when you're sleeping, as it regulates your body temperature, sustains your lean tissue, and maintains your heart, breathing and circulatory functions. Speeding up your metabolic rate means that you burn more calories everyday, which in turn helps you lower or maintain a healthy body fat percentage.
While your metabolic rate is depending on several factors, including genetics, there are several ways you can increase your metabolic rate, including lifting weights, performing high-intensity interval workouts, eating throughout the day, and adjusting your meals to take in metabolism-boosting foods.
1. Lift Weights
Regularly lifting weights helps boost your metabolism in two ways. First, it helps build muscle tissue. It takes constant fuel for your body to maintain muscle tissue, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you'll burn at all times. While results have varied, studies have found that every extra pound of muscle you carry equates to 30 to 50 extra calories burned per day.
Secondly, following weight lifting workouts your metabolic rate is elevated as the body works at repairing and healing your damaged muscle tissue. Lifting heavy weights or following a high volume program breaks down your muscle tissue. The healing and repairing process requires extra fuel in the form of calories.
2. Replace Cardio with High-Intensity Intervals
Cardio exercise, such as jogging, cycling, and swimming, are effective for increasing your metabolic rate while you're doing the workout. However, nearly immediately after you're finished, your metabolic rate returns to its resting levels.
High-intensity interval workouts are not only effective at burning a high number of calories while you're doing the activity, but for hours even after you're finished. High-intensity interval workouts are training sessions where you alternate between short bouts at a very high intensity and periods of either rest or low-intensity activity. Because your body is working at a higher intensity, it takes longer for it to return back to its resting levels.
Here is an example of a high-intensity interval workout on a treadmill: Sprint at a speed of 8.0 miles per hour on the treadmill for 30 seconds, followed by a walk at 3.0 miles per hour for 60 seconds. Alternate between the 30 seconds of sprinting and 60 seconds of walking a total of 10 times.
3. Eat More Frequently
You've likely heard the motto that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it certainly is if you're hoping to increase your metabolism. By eating shortly after you wake up, you kick-start your metabolism right away.
You'll also help speed up your metabolism by eating six smaller meals throughout the day, rather than 3 larger meals with longer breaks of fasting in between. The digestion process itself requires calories, so the more often you eat, the longer your metabolic rate is elevated. The key is to be prepared and keep healthy snacks at the ready.
The worst thing you can do if you're looking to lose fat is to skip meals. Having long periods of fasting encourages the body to slow your metabolism in an effort to maintain its energy stores.
4. Adjust Your Diet
What you eat during your 6 smaller meals will make a significant impact on your metabolic rate. The term "thermogenic effect of food" (TEF) is a measure of how much energy the body needs to digest a particular food. Proteins have a higher thermogenic effect than carbohydrates and fats. Protein's thermogenic effect of food is 25%, which means that 25% of the calories of each gram of protein is used up during the digestion process. Carbohydrates have a thermogenic effect of food of 5%, while fat's thermogenic effect of food is 2%.
Therefore, nearly all of your meals should consist of some type of protein, such as chicken, turkey, egg whites, low-fat dairy, beans, nuts and seeds. Combine your proteins with real, organic vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.