One of the most common questions surrounding metabolism is how you can boost it. But before we share how you can increase your metabolism, you’ve got to first understand what it is and how it works.
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A complex process, your metabolism relates to your body’s ability to produce energy from fat, sugar, and protein and how it stores energy. The best way to determine your metabolic rate is to get a resting metabolic rate test at specialized clinics like the Mount Sinai PhysioLab. These tests typically cost around $250 and will provide you with the most accurate measurement.
If your results reveal that you have a slow metabolism, there are legit ways to boost your metabolism. Dori Arad, PhD, director of the Mount Sinai PhysioLab, and Holly Lofton, MD, director of the medical weight management program at NYU Langone Health, shared what really works. Spoiler alert: spicy foods and coffee didn’t make the list.
If you’re looking to speed up your metabolism, check out these experts’ tips ahead.
1. Don’t Fall For the Metabolism-Boosting Myths
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There are a lot of myths floating around about ways you can boost your metabolism, and we want you to know they don’t work. “I don’t think there’s any food that can consistently and sustainably increase your metabolic rate,” Dr. Arad told POPSUGAR.
Drinking water first thing in the morning will help hydrate you, but that’s about it. Drinking green tea and coffee and eating spicy foods don’t work either.
2. Pick Up the Weights
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Another way to speed up your metabolism is to begin strength training. “You should increase your muscle mass, because as your muscles get bigger, your resting metabolic rate increases,” Dr. Lofton said.
In this instance, lifting weights is better than cycling and yoga because muscle is more metabolically active, both doctors explained. More muscle requires more energy, and as a result, it increases your metabolic rate, Dr. Arad explained.
Here’s a four-week beginner weightlifting program to get you started.
3. Be More Active
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You don’t always have to strength train, but Dr. Lofton advises moving more in general and increasing your physical activity. Hiking, swimming, yoga, and going on a bike ride are just a few options to increase your activity.
4. Eat More Healthy Fats
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By eating more healthy fats, your body will have to work harder to break them down. Because of this, Dr. Arad said your body will expend more calories as it breaks down the fats.
Healthy fats can be found in nuts (like almonds and walnuts), fatty fish (like salmon or trout), and chia and flax seeds. Olive oil and avocados are also sources of healthy fats.
5. Eat Foods High in Protein
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Just like with fat, it’s harder for your body to digest, break down, and store foods that are high in protein. High-protein foods, fibrous foods, and complex carbohydrates also have a higher thermic effect, which requires more energy to break down.
6. Watch Your Sugar Intake
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According to Dr. Arad, “The amount of energy that it requires for the body to process sugar is relatively small compared with fat and/or protein.” You don’t need to cut out sugar entirely, but you should be mindful about how much you consume.
This article first appeared in Pop Sugar.