The short answer is yes. There are several approaches you can take to boost your metabolism through physical activity and nutrition.
As grad students, my classmates and I currently sit a lot because there is always a chapter to read or a homework assignment to turn in… it comes with the territory unfortunately.
Being mostly sedentary doesn’t exactly translate into a high calorie burn throughout the day. So if I don’t have time to move a lot, I’d like to trick my body into burning more calories while at rest. This rate of energy expenditure is also known as basal metabolic rate (BMR). It measures the number of calories needed to fuel ventilation, blood circulation, and temperature regulation. BMR represents the minimum amount of energy required to keep your body functioning.
Several classmates have asked me what they can do to jumpstart their metabolism. Increased calorie burn throughout the day can be accomplished by adding certain types of physical activity and through nutritional changes. Follow these 8 tips to rev up your metabolism:
- Include interval training in your workout
This type of exercise involves changing the intensity of your workout throughout your exercise session. It adds variety and requires you to consume more oxygen, forcing the mitochondria in your cells to work harder to burn energy. Interval training can be incorporated into running, swimming, biking, and even walking. You’ll burn more calories in the same amount of time.
- Don’t starve yourself
It’s often the first thought when starting a diet: cut calories and you’ll lose weight. However, not consuming enough calories can be just as detrimental as eating too much. Your metabolism goes into starvation mode and reacts by decreasing fat burn in order to conserve energy. A rule of thumb for cutting calories is to eat enough to match your BMR, or the calories you burn at rest.
- Eat breakfast
Eating breakfast literally wakes up your metabolism. After having not eaten for an extended period of time, your metabolism has slowed while you rest. A balanced breakfast kick starts your engine and keeps it running. Some great options are oatmeal with nuts and fruit, whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana, or the egg muffin recipe below!
- Drink plenty of water
Everyone knows that you should drink eight 8-oz. glasses of water everyday for good health. Drinking ice cold water can help burn more calories because the body has to expend more energy to bring the temperature of the water up. Staying hydrated also keeps your digestion and other vital bodily functions running smoothly.
- Turn up the heat with hot peppers
Some studies have found that adding hot peppers to your meals can temporarily increase your metabolism. Spicy foods increase your body temperature, which may lead to increased calorie burn. The substance that adds the heat is known as capsaicin. Adding minced peppers, such as Jalapeno or Habanero, or ground cayenne pepper is sure to bring the heat to any dish.
- Build some muscle
Typically, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn at rest. Muscle in any part of the body uses energy throughout the day to stay fueled. Therefore, weight lifting is an excellent approach to boosting your metabolism.
- Eat five small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals
This eating pattern is akin to grazing, which helps maintains blood sugar levels and prevents weight-gain-promoting insulin spikes. Eating more frequent, smaller meals doesn’t allow your blood sugar to increase or decrease so drastically because you continue to provide your body with fuel at regular intervals. Since your meals are smaller, your body needs less insulin to break down and store carbohydrates. This approach does take a little bit of work upfront, however. It’s important not to overeat. Therefore, take your normal calorie intake and divide by five to determine the number of calories you should be eating at each mini meal.
- Increase the protein in your diet
Protein keeps you feeling full longer because your body digests it more slowly than fat and carbohydrates. Secondly, the chemical makeup of protein is more complex than that of the other macronutrients because it has the extra element nitrogen attached to it. In a process known as thermogenesis, your body typically burns about 10% of its caloric intake for digestion. Because the nitrogen must be removed, it takes longer to burn protein than it does fat and carbs. Therefore, your body expends more energy absorbing the nutrients in a high-protein diet.
My roommates and I actually had a “Kegs n’ Eggs” party a little while ago to celebrate America’s birthday. Of course the former was kicked but there were still plenty of these protein-packed powerhouses in our fridge. I’m talking three 18-egg cartons. Although we’ve made a significant dent, there’s still plenty to go around. What better way to use up a ton of eggs than a large egg dish??
Introducing scrambled egg muffins. They were incredibly easy to make and you can put any additions in that you desire. Plus, each egg muffin has approximately 6 grams of protein and contributes to the daily needs of several nutrients of concern I mentioned in the previous post. Check them out!
Scrambled Egg Muffins
- 12 eggs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup kale, chopped
- 1/3 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
- ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, diced
- ½ cup red or green pepper, diced
- 5 basil leaves, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat muffin tin with butter or line with paper liners.
- Crack 6 eggs each into two separate medium-sized bowls. Whisk eggs until smooth.
- Add bacon, half of cheddar cheese, and kale to first bowl and stir to combine.
- Add tomatoes, pepper, other half of cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, kale, and basil to the second bowl and stir to combine.
- Add salt and pepper to both bowls to taste.
- Pour egg mixtures into 12 muffin cups or bake separately if only one pan is available.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes or until eggs are set.
- Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.