Do you want your body to be a clean, lean, fat-burning machine? Well, it all comes down to having a speedy metabolism. If yours is currently slower than a Friday arvo at work, here’s how to press on the accelerator.
Just like most things in the human body, the way our metabolism works is pretty amazing. If you’re not exactly sure what it is, here’s a quick lesson: Your metabolism works 24/7 to help you burn kilojoules and shed fat. It’s what converts energy (from the food you eat) into fuel for your heart, lungs and all those essential functions. The faster your metabolism, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to lose those extra kilos. While genetics do play a role, you have a huge amount of control over your metabolic rate. Woo! Here’s how to rev it up.
In the morning
You’ve heard it a million times before, and we’re about to make it a million and one: You need to eat a good, nourishing breakfast every single day. No exceptions. If you don’t, your body goes into starvation mode, and your metabolism slams on the brakes to conserve energy. This reaction goes back to caveman times when our ancestors often didn’t know where their next meal was coming from. Now, if you want a rocking metabolism, you should aim to eat things that are filling and a little slower to digest. Try a 2-egg omelette with spinach and tomato, or oats with natural yoghurt and blueberries.
Get a caffeine hit
Not that you need a reason to drink a coffee, but here’s one: It stimulates your nervous system, which gets your metabolism cranking. But before you rush off to gulp down that cappuccino, think about this: You’ll get the best results if you stick with black coffee with a dash of milk. Bonus points if you add a sprinkle of cinnamon, another major fat-burner.
At the gym
Schedule in some intervals
While the foods you eat can get your metabolism up, the work you put in at the gym has the biggest impact. The key is to think intensity, rather than duration — and the most effective exercises you can do are intervals. Intervals involve mixing up the speed of a cardio workout so that your body has to adjust. So, when you’re running, cycling or swimming, try adding in a few “sprints”. For example, run at a comfortable speed for two minutes before amping it up to a can’t-hold-a-conversation tempo for a minute. Repeat until you’ve run 15-20 minutes. These bursts of speed will kick start your metabolism and set your body up to keep burning fat for the rest of the day.
When you do any strength training (weights), don’t rush through the exercises. Instead, try counting to three as you lower the weight back to its start position. For instance, if you’re doing a shoulder press (pushing your weight from the shoulders until your arms are straight), take your time to bring the weight back down. Slowing things down is not only more challenging for your muscles, but it also amps up your metabolism in a big way.
During the day
Green tea has tons of health benefits, but it’s almost magic when it comes to revving up your metabolism. We won’t go into all the science-y details here, but basically, green tea contains plant compounds that burn fat more than any other brew. Two to five cups a day will do wonders.
When lunch time rolls around, pick a protein-packed meal. Why? Protein helps your body build (and maintain) lovely lean muscle, and as you can probably guess, muscle burns more KJs than fat! Try having a palm-sized chicken or turkey breast, lentils, or cottage cheese and you’ll be sorted.
Grab a yoghurt
Natural yoghurt is one of the best metabolism-revving, tummy-flattening foods there is. Not bad, hey? Try to have a small tub of it every day, whether it’s with brekkie or to tide you over between lunch and dinner. Calcium gets the bowels moving too, which is key to a good metabolism.
At the supermarket
When you’re wandering up the aisles, keep an eye out for these mega fat-burning foods (trust us, they’re worth the extra cash):
- Organic meat, fruits and vegies (especially the ones with thin skins)
- Spices like chilli and cinnamon
- Iron-rich foods like beans and dark, leafy greens (spinach, broccoli)
- (Healthy) fatty fish like salmon and tuna
Check out foods to boost your metabolism >>
Other hot tips
- Cut down on the booze — drinking alcohol slows down your metabolism more than anything else, plus it’s just not nice for your liver. Stop at two drinks, or better yet, why not detox for a while?
- Get your beauty sleep — it sounds odd, but if you want to be a fat-burning machine, then your body needs rest. Aim for eight hours a night.