Oftentimes when one wants to lose weight, they turn to tricks that are rumored to boost their metabolism. The promise of a faster metabolism overall means that we can drop pounds without making major changes to our lifestyle, but are these well-known tricks fact or myth? We turned to a nutritionist and fitness trainer to get answers.
“Metabolism is the process through which the body converts food to energy,” explains Stacey Sude, an herbalist and plant-based nutrition specialist at ALOHA. “A faster metabolic rate is associated with a larger body size and greater muscle mass. On average, men have a higher resting metabolic rate than women because they typically have a larger body size, a lower percentage of body fat, and a higher percentage of muscle.” So what’s the obvious solution to boosting metabolism? Increase lean muscle mass.
“More than 90-percent of your metabolic rate is directly dependent on the amount of muscle you have,” says Jimmy Minardi of Minardi Training. “The more you have, the higher your metabolism will soar. It even burns calories at rest. For each pound of muscle added, your metabolism is increased by 50 calories or more per day.”
To build muscle, Minardi (a personal trainer and former athlete) recommends the below exercises to his clients to build muscle and therefore boost metabolism.
High Intensity Interval Training: “The key is to push yourself. Instead of running 30 minutes on a flat treadmill, do interval training at an incline,” Minardi says. Gradually increase the incline to 15, holding it for 45 seconds. Then lower the treadmill to zero incline, rest for 3-5 minutes, and repeat five more intervals.
Jumping Jacks: “They provide a full-body workout, cardio, agility, and target every muscle group,” says Minardi. Do a total of 60 jumping jacks, with the first 30 traditional and the next 30 split jacks—stand in a staggered stance with your right foot in front of your left. Simultaneously jump back with right foot and forward with your left as you swing your right arm forward and above your shoulder and swing your left arm back. Continue to quickly switch legs back and forth as you raise and lower your arms.
Mountain Climbers: “[They] are one of the few exercises you can do without equipment that give you an intense, full body workout,” Minardi says. Start in a plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width, and on a subtle incline. “Position one leg forward bent under the body and extend the other leg back. Alternate leg positions by pushing hips up while immediately extending your forward leg back and pulling the rear leg forward under the chest line, landing on both forefeet simultaneously,” he instructs. Do two sets of 30.
When it comes to food, there are a few tricks that help to aid a high metabolism. “A high-protein diet also increases lean muscle mass and correspondingly can improve metabolic rate,” says Sude. “You also burn more calories just by swallowing protein because [it] requires more energy than digestion of carbohydrates and fats.” While fish and meat are obvious options, Sude recommends legumes, nuts, seeds, protein-rich grains like quinoa, and protein-based smoothies using ALOHA Premium Protein.
There are many foods rumored to boost metabolism on their own, like hot pepper and warming spices. However, Sude notes that there isn’t enough research at the moment to validate those claims. And for those who believe they’re simply cursed with a slow metabolism? “This is actually a more rare phenomenon that is caused by conditions like hypothyroidism and Cushing’s Syndrome,” she says. Sude also adds that eating very little will not compensate for a slow metabolism. In fact, it will only slow it down even more. Using the right tools, like those above, will trigger your metabolism to burn more calories and lift “the curse.”