When it comes to the topic of metabolism, views tend to be divided. Not so much in terms of the research — that’s pretty unified, which is why we now know of so many different ways to speed it up (see below). It’s more of a systematic division, and it’s pretty much defined by which side of age 30 you’re standing on.
Ask any formerly athletic person over the age of 30 with a couple of extra pounds around their waist to tell you what happened, and they’ll likely cite the year their sprinting metabolism slowed to a crawl. It’s an easy excuse, but also a somewhat valid one.
And what about those slender beings who’ve yet to reach the big three-oh? Oh, they’re just really good at staying on top of their health and fitness — or at least that’s one response you can expect.
The point is, we like to take credit when things are going well, and when they aren’t it’s much easier to point to an external factor outside of our control (or, in this case, an internal factor — namely, our metabolism). But when it comes to manipulating our metabolism, even the dirtiest, thirtiest of us have the power to take control of our bodies and start tipping the scales in the opposite direction. And, luckily for you, small changes can pack a powerful cumulative punch. Consider this your checklist.
1. Work Out (But Not Just With Any Workout)
Specifically, we’re talking about workouts that combine strength training with intense cardio intervals. “A combination of both will provide a great metabolism-boosting workout,” says Mahri Relin, founder of Body Conceptions, a results-focused personal training company with group fitness studios and personal trainers in New York City and Denver. “Cardio interval training burns lots of calories in the moment, while also increasing post-exercise oxygen consumption and metabolism for up to 24 hours afterwards.” Staying consistent will bring its own rewards, too: “Increasing muscle mass contributes to an increase in resting metabolism,” Relin says.
2. Don’t Sleep In
The real tip here is to get good sleep, but if you’re rolling out of bed as late as possible you’re killing your chances of getting to bed at a decent hour. “We all want to increase our metabolism, but skimping on sleep can result in an extra pound of weight gain for every two weeks, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” says Joey Thurman, author of 365 Health & Fitness Hacks That Could Save Your Life. (Even low-grade sleep deprivation can affect the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which are responsible for signaling hunger and satiation, respectively.) Aim for 7-9 hours, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation, and then channel your innermost strength to resist whacking the snooze button. You’ve got this.
3. Drink Water
Elite athletes (see: Novak Djokovic) swear by drinking a big glass of water first thing in the morning. There are a couple of benefits to doing this, most of which involve avoiding the negative effects associated with dehydration, including but not limited to physical and mental fatigue. It can work wonders for the metabolism, too. “Simply drinking water can optimize your body’s ability to burn fat by increasing your metabolic rate by up to 30 percent — an effect that can last for up to over an hour afterwards,” says Relin. Our suggestion to make this as easy as possible: Fill a bottle with water, leave it next to your bed, and chug it first thing in the morning. Then aim to fill it up three to four times over the course of the day.
4. Pop A Simple But Effective (And Safe) Energy Supplement
Energy supplements often get a bad rap, and usually for good reason; for one, they’re typically loaded with sugar and proprietary blends, and hard-to-pronounce ingredients make it difficult to tell what you’re actually getting. But there are good options out there, like GO, a clean, NSF-compliant vegan capsule containing just 14 ingredients. “When it comes to energy supplements, GO is one of the cleanest around, with some smart, natural ingredients to give you and your metabolism a running start,” says Jaimie Bailey, a New York City-based nutritionist and FlyWheel instructor. “Combined with your morning workout, it’ll keep you firing on all cylinders all day long.”
5. Eat A Meal
Think of your metabolism as the crank on a spin bike (the gear between the pedals). When you move your legs, the crank turns. But when you stop pedaling, it does not stop abruptly — it keeps spinning for a while. “Eating in the morning activates the thermogenesis process, which stimulates your metabolism,” says Relin. “A 2013 study divided subjects into two groups and found that people in the group that ate the majority of their day’s calories in the morning lost more weight than those who got the bulk of their nutrition later in the day.” That’s not to say you should force-feed yourself half a day’s worth of food before leaving for work, but at least eat something to get the gears turning.
6. Take A Shot
It’s 2018, which means there’s a pretty good chance that by now you’ve heard at least one person extol the health benefits of taking a hearty swig of apple cider vinegar first thing in the morning. “When your body chemistry is too acidic, it can struggle to function as well as it should,” says Bailey. “We don’t absorb nutrients as well, digestion is less effective, and we’re less able to fight off diseases and illness. Apple cider vinegar has a long list of benefits, but when it comes to metabolism, it can be a game changer.” Pick up a bottle of ACV (what the cool kids are calling it these days) and stir up this quick morning tonic — a daily staple for Bailey — to help balance out your body’s PH levels and fire up your digestion:
- 6-8 oz warm water
- 2 tbsp raw, unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar
- ½ tsp honey (optional)
7. Toggle Health Mode ON
Ever noticed how missing one workout often leads to missing the next one, too? Or how eating one unhealthy thing (or downing a few too many drinks) on a Friday can set you off on a downward spiral for an entire weekend? Well, it works both ways. The trick is to simply get started, no matter how small or insignificant the action might seem. “Whatever you do — whether it’s exercising, drinking water, or eating a healthy breakfast — it’s going to help set you in motion to engage in other healthy habits over the course of the day,” says Relin. “Start your healthy habits right away, and you will be more likely to be active and choose healthier foods that’ll in turn help support a faster metabolism.”