There are loads of reasons to love your body, even if you’re stuck trying to figure out how to speed up your metabolism. For starters, it helps you get from point A to point B (which rocks, when point A is a pizza joint and point B is your couch).
But perhaps the best thing to love about your body and your metabolism? It constantly does you a solid by burning calories all on its own. How? Well, first of all, it’s important to mention that having a naturally slow metabolism isn’t inherently dangerous to your health, so you shouldn’t sweat it, as long as you feel your best. If you’re feeling low in energy, however, a slowed down metabolism could be to blame, according to Forbes.
Although there are genetic factors that can play into your metabolic rate, according to the New York Times, there are everyday behaviors that impact it, too. Could you be slowing your metabolism and you don’t even know it? I caught up with Keri Gans, RD and author of The Small Change Diet, for her advice when it comes to habits that can speed up your metabolism.
According to a 2010 review published in the International Journal of Endocrinology, sleep deprivation has a profound effect on metabolic function. The less sleep you get, the more likely it is to see hiccups and slowing in your regular metabolic rate.
“If you’re tired, a lot of times, you make poor choices,” says Gans in a phone interview with Bustle. “Our body needs time to repair itself, it needs rest.”
Gans stresses that making sure you get enough sleep isn’t just crucial on the weekends when you find yourself playing catch-up after a busy work week. If anything, “that just plays havoc on your system,” says Gans.
Try laying out a schedule and giving yourself a bedtime a la your toddler years. You don’t have to tell mom now, but seems like she was really on to something with that whole lights out at 9 p.m. thing.
2. Building Muscle
Muscle has a huge impact on the amount of calories you burn, according to an article published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Plain and simple: Muscles use a lot more calories than fat during the day (even while you’re resting).
“The more muscular you are, you’ll burn more calories at rest,” says Gans. “Hit the gym, get to your downward dogs, paddle board — anything that builds up muscle — get out there and enjoy it, especially as you age.”
Plus, Gans says, building up muscle can help support bone health. Both muscles and bones become stronger when muscles work against bones during bouts of exercise. The benefit? Better overall health and a strength when it comes to doing everyday tasks ranging from lifting a box up the stairs to walking to the train.
3. Not Skipping Meals
We’ve all been there: Sometimes we get so busy that we forget to eat breakfast or lunch, and before we know it it’s 4 p.m. and we haven’t eaten a thing (and no, coffee doesn’t count as a meal). The problem? Skipping meals can actually shock the metabolism and give you less-than-satisfactory results.
“The longer a woman goes between meals, especially if she’s skipping them, the body kind of goes into a ‘I don’t know when my next meal is coming, I’m gonna hold onto whatever I have’ phase,” says Gans. “Then, your metabolism slows down. That’s why it’s super important not to skip.”
If you skip meals, you’re likely to have much lower energy, which can affect you physically, emotionally, and mentally.
4. Loading Up On Spicy Foods
Eating spicy food can speed up your metabolism — chili peppers, in particular. The peppers have a compound called capsaicin which gives them their powerful kick. A study published in the New York Times indicated that the capsaicin creates a large bump in heat generation, helping send your energy producers into high gear immediately after a meal.
5. Drinking Water
“Plain and simple, if you’re dehydrated, metabolism slows down,” says Gans.
Especially in the summer when you’re more prone to dehydration, make sure you’re getting in a minimum of 64 ounces of water each day. Not a fan of plain old water? Add cucumber, lemon, or pineapple for a flavor boost that’ll leave you hankering for more.