Do you have a friend who can eat an entire pizza and ice cream for dessert, not exercise and also not gain a pound? Meanwhile, you so much as walk down the ice cream aisle and the pounds seem to multiply? If so, thank–more like, curse–metabolism.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Metabolism is the process by which our bodies convert what we eat into the energy we need to survive and function.” A fast metabolism burns through calories quickly and needs more to keep the body working, while a slow metabolism can survive on less fuel–and thus, less calories.
But just because you have a slow metabolism is no reason to give up and live a life of gluttony. With a little knowledge and a few tips, you take back control of your metabolism, despite how genetics set you up.
Get Strong: Muscle burns more calories–even at rest. That means, the more muscular you are, the higher your resting metabolic rate will be. Yes, you can burn calories in the short term with cardio, and that is certainly encouraged. However, you can get a lot more burning bang for your buck with strength training.
Master Your Metabolism by: Adding weights to your workouts throughout the week. Focus on squats, leg presses, weighted lunges, and deadlifts for lower body strengthening. Tone your upper body with bench presses, shoulder raises, dumbbell curls, tricep extensions, and barbell rows.
Eat Early, Eat Often: It may seem like the logical way to solve a slow metabolism is to refuse your body of calories. However, it’s actually quite the opposite. When your body thinks it’s starving, metabolism comes to a standstill because your body goes into survival mode, using fewer calories to complete the same tasks.
Master Your Metabolism by:Eating small meals throughout the day. Aim for three regular sized meals and one or two health snacks. Also, make sure to take in a good breakfast to start your day. After hours of sleeping, your body is in starvation mode. A healthy breakfast of whole foods is just the kickstart your metabolism needs.
Stay Hydrated: Studies show that increasing your water intake can lead to a faster metabolism. In fact, one study demonstrated the increase happened within ten minutes of a 17 ounce water intake, and the calorie burning lasted more than 30 minutes.
Master Your Metabolism by: Aim for about 2.7 liters of water (according to the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations). Boost the calorie burning by drinking ice cold water. Your metabolism increases as it tries to heat the water.
Slower with Age: If you already have a slow metabolism, get ready for another kicker–metabolism can decrease as you age. It could be the very reason why you’re eating and exercising just as you have in years past, but your pants are a little more snug than usual. The slowdown starts around age 20, but the decline seems to pick up speed when you’re “over the hill”–age 40, that is.
Master Your Metabolism by: Switching things up. Doing the same fitness routine and eating the same foods can cause your body to plateau. Try new workouts, increase the weights you’re lifting, or change up your cardio with interval training. Keep a food log to see if what you are eating is what you think you’ve been eating. Your portions may have slowly increased over time without you realizing. If so, cut a few calories to give your metabolism the wake up call it needs.
If there seems like just too much to remember when it comes to metabolism, follow this one simple phrase: Move more, eat less. Your metabolism will likely pick up the pace in no time.