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You don’t have to be a scientist to know that metabolism slows with age. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a slow metabolic rate that keeps you from burning calories. You can always jumpstart your metabolism by paying attention to what you’re eating and how you’re exercising.
Looking for an easy way to start? Here’s a simple recipe to give your body a metabolic jolt:
1. Start with Protein
Your body uses more energy digesting protein than it does digesting fats or carbs. Make sure you’re eating lean protein, like lean beef, turkey, fish, white meat chicken, tofu, nuts, beans, and eggs, at every meal.
2. Add Water
Lots of water. You must have water to burn calories. Even if you are just slightly dehydrated, your metabolism can slow down. To stay hydrated, drink liquids like water, milk, tea, or coffee. You can also get water from the foods that you eat so be sure to include fresh fruits and veggies in your diet.
3. Add in Coffee or Green Tea
Caffeine can provide a short-term rise in metabolic rate. Coffee, used in moderate amounts, can increase your energy, concentration, and endurance. Green tea also contains catechins which have been shown to recharge your metabolism for a short period.
4. Sprinkle with Spices
Spicy foods, like red pepper flakes or other foods containing capsaicins, can kick up your metabolic rate. These natural chemicals have a short-term effect, but if you use them often, such as with pasta, chili, and stews, these benefits can add up.
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Add-Ons and Variations
Many other lifestyle habits, such as exercise and snacking, play into your metabolic rate:
5. Rev up Your Workout
High-intensity aerobic workouts can keep your metabolism raised for hours after you’ve finished your workout. Try some interval training during your next treadmill workout. If your workout is 20 minutes total, try doing 1-2 minutes of fast-paced running followed by 1-2 minutes of walking for the duration of the workout.
6. Build Muscle
Even when you’re not doing anything, your body is still using calories. This is called “resting metabolic rate.” Those lucky people with a high metabolic rate burn more calories at rest. But you can improve the rate at which your body burns calories at rest by adding muscle. Muscle has higher energy demands than fat and uses more calories to support its needs.
7. Snack Appropriately
When you eat just a few large meals, your metabolism can slow down during the time between meals. If you have a small meal or snack every few hours, your metabolic rate stays elevated. Studies show that if you snack regularly, you are likely to eat less at mealtimes.
8. Avoid the Crash
If you are hoping to speed up your metabolic rate, you must avoid any kind of crash dieting. Eating minimal calories each day will definitely help you drop pounds initially. The problem is that eventually your body will go into starvation mode, slowing your metabolism. The lack of nutrients in a crash diet can also lead to a loss of muscle tissue. Also, when you aren’t getting adequate nutrients from your diet, your body starts breaking down muscle tissue to use as an energy source.