Dieters are often aware of metabolism and its effect on an individual’s weight. Metabolism is a process that serves a host of important functions, including converting food and drink into energy and using energy to construct certain components of cells.
For the perpetual dieter, metabolism can be a natural-born enemy, a process that simply isn’t fast enough for dieters to lose weight. Even more frustrating, a person’s metabolism can hinge on genetics and gender. People may inherit a speedy or slow metabolism. Gender plays a large role considering men have a tendency to burn more calories than women, even while resting. Those who inherited a speedy metabolism are often the people who can seemingly eat whatever they choose without gaining a pound.
But gaining a faster metabolism isn’t just for men or those who inherited a speedier metabolism at birth. In fact, there are several healthy ways to speed up metabolism.
* Pack on some muscle. People with more muscle tend to have a higher resting metabolic rate. That’s because muscle burns more calories than fat. According to the American Council on Exercise, each pound of fat burns just two calories per day, while various estimates suggest each pound of muscle burns between 35 to 50 calories per day. Those figures might seem insignificant, but they add up over time and someone with significant muscle can burn considerably more calories than someone without. Employ resistance training to build muscle, as such training activates muscles all over the body, increasing your daily metabolic rate as a result.
* Emphasize intensity. Daily exercise is great, but high-intensity daily exercise will prove more effective at speeding up your metabolism. Low- or moderate-intensity workouts don’t pack the same punch as high-intensity workouts, which produce a longer increase in resting metabolic rate. Sign up for a Zumba(R) or spin class at your gym, both of which are the kind of high-intensity cardiovascular workout that can speed up your metabolism.
* Embrace grazing. Grazing is a dietary philosophy in which individuals eat five to six smaller meals every three to four hours instead of three large meals each day. Eating this way helps keep your metabolism going, and the result is you will burn more calories throughout the day than you would if you ate a more traditional diet. Of course, what you eat when grazing is important, too. Choose low-fat, high-nutrient foods, and snack on fruits and vegetables instead of more popular snacks like potato chips. Grazing on unhealthy foods won’t lead to weight loss and may even cause weight gain.
* Eat more protein. Protein can serve many purposes for people trying to lose weight. Protein has a tendency to make you feel full when you eat it, reducing the likelihood that you will overeat. In addition, the body burns more calories when digesting protein than it does while digesting fats or carbohydrates. Turkey, low-fat dairy products, fish, nuts and beans are great sources of protein, which should not be all you eat but can be used as a periodic replacement for other foods that may slow down your metabolism.
* Stay hydrated. Your metabolism will likely slow down if you allow yourself to get dehydrated. When the body does not have enough water, several of its functions, including its ability to burn calories, slow down. Muscles are roughly 70 percent water, so if they are not fully hydrated they cannot generate energy, affecting your metabolism. In addition, the body is not as effective at using fat as fuel when it is dehydrated, further slowing your metabolism. Staying hydrated is as easy as drinking enough water throughout the day. How much water an individual needs to stay hydrated is open to debate among medical professionals, but one study found that adults who drink eight or more glasses of water per day burned more calories than those who drank four glasses of water per day.
Many people feel they were either gifted at birth with a fast metabolism or doomed from the start with a slow metabolism. But an individual’s metabolism is not set in stone, and there are a host of healthy ways men and women can speed up their metabolism.