As a personal trainer, I often tell clients to think of their bodies as they would the engine of a car. When you first get into your vehicle and turn the ignition, fuel is sent to the engine to start the car. But a vehicle also needs fuel to keep going so it doesn't stall on the freeway, and it needs oil to keep everything lubricated and running correctly. Our bodies aren't much different. Over the years, I've learned a few tricks to help keep my metabolism revved. Go ahead and try them out and see if they work for you.
1. Strength Training Is Key
Seriously. For women especially, our lower bodies tend to store more fat, and our glutes are the largest muscle in our bodies. The more lean muscle you have, the more fat your booty will always burn! Your body burns about six calories per day to maintain a pound of muscle, but it expends only two calories per pound of fat. Increasing your muscle-to-fat ratio can directly boost your metabolism, even when you're not in the gym.
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2. Drink More Water
Up to 75 percent of adults suffer from chronic mild dehydration, which can slow your metabolism. Adequate daily water intake falls between half an ounce to one ounce per pound of body weight, but can vary based on your environment and activity level. Drinking enough water can also fight the fatigue and joint pain that may slow down your workouts. Adding lemon keeps the flavor of water interesting and helps your liver function as the body's built-in detoxification system by promoting more efficient stomach digestion.
3. Turn Bathroom Breaks Into Mini Workouts
I go to the bathroom almost every hour. On days when I spend a good part sitting or don't have time for a workout, I'll do push-ups after every break. Sometimes I'll add a few jump-squats and bicycle crunches. When you get up for more-frequent bathroom breaks (in response to better hydration), take a couple of quick laps around the office to sneak in a bit more cardio.
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4. Eat More Protein
Protein takes longer to digest, and the body burns more calories digesting it than carbohydrates and fats. Lean meats, such as a turkey burger on a lettuce "bun," are excellent sources of protein and micronutrients. Another option is to replace high-carbohydrate foods like pasta with a higher-protein alternative, such as black-bean pasta.
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5. Add Intervals to Your Workouts
Interval workouts consist of short bursts of intense activity followed by rest periods. HIIT has been shown to burn fat more efficiently than steady-state cardio and promote muscle building. If you're new to HIIT, try sprinting for 30 seconds on a treadmill (you can add an incline to increase the intensity), then walk or jog for one minute. Repeat this 10 times and your metabolism will be revving high all day long.
6. Integrate Core and Balance Training
Work out smarter not harder. Any exercise you do on a flat surface, try to do on a balance device. I love the BOSU ball: If you're doing chest presses, do it on an exercise ball to simultaneously work your core and stabilizers while also reducing the risk of injury.
7. Start Fidgeting
All those small movements you do throughout the day can add up: Stand while you're on the phone, and pace the room while you're on a conference call. At your desk, take breaks to reach your arms overhead for a good stretch. Take the stairs, not the elevator.
Spending too much time sitting can promote joint and muscle stiffness, bad posture and back pain, which can lead to higher rates of injury. Make sure you get up, stretch and walk around once every hour. Even better, get a standing desk or a treadmill desk at the office.
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8. Eat More Fiber
Fiber pushes everything through your system by helping the body process food more efficiently. It also slows down carbohydrates' digestion and absorption, which means your body is burning calories even after you're finished eating.
Daily fiber recommendations are 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women. A variety of both soluble fiber foods (apples) and insoluble high-fiber foods (whole grains) are best for supporting a healthy metabolism and digestive system.
Read more: The 2018 Wellness Guide
9. Activate Rest Days
Try to spend your rest days doing errands — grocery shopping, laundry, washing your car, etc. A rest day may mean a break from the gym, but that doesn't mean you should lounge around. All of those daily activities will continue to burn calories while giving your body a much-needed break from weights or cardio.
What Do YOU Think?
Have you felt your metabolism slow down? Have you tried any of these tricks to jump-start it? Let us know what has worked for you in the comments below!