Don’t diet deprive:  A skimpy diet will undermine your efforts to maintain your metabolically active muscle.  Regular exercise and slight calorie deficits are more effective for weight loss than repeated extreme low-calorie diets. Yo-yo low calorie diets cause your weight to drastically fluctuate subsequently slowing your metabolism.

Timing trumps quantity: When it comes to maximizing muscle mass, not only do calories need to be adequate, but protein should be present as well. Higher protein diets (25% calories from protein) compared to lower-protein diets (10% calories from protein) may have a “metabolic advantage.”  However, protein timing is key.  Most people consume the bulk of protein at dinner, but your body can only use 20-30 grams of protein at a time.  Spreading the protein love across all meals (15-30 g/meal) and snacks (5-15 g/snack) will optimize protein’s ability to build and repair muscle.

Metabolic boosting foods? Unfortunately, there are no magical metabolism foods that will shed the pounds. However, some food ingredients might slightly boost metabolism after consumption, and every boost, albeit small, can help!

  • Green tea: Some studies show a small increase in metabolic rate after drinking green tea. Tea’s combination of caffeine, flavonoids and the antioxidant, catechin, may not only help your body oxidize fat, but also offer a plethora of other health benefits.
  • Spice it up. Foods that contain capsaicin, such as jalapeños, cayenne, and chili peppers, have been shown to raise your metabolic rate for about 30 minutes after you eat them. The boost is small…for instance it will not counteract an extra taco if you add hot sauce!

Metabolic boosting water?  A 2003 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that participants who drank more water—particularly cold water—showed a 30 percent increase in metabolism rate for about 30 to 40 minutes afterward. Dehydration has the opposite effect. Even slight dehydration may slow metabolism by as much as 3%.  Drinking water also helps you feel more full and helps ensure you don’t mistake thirst for hunger.

Add some fat. New and exciting research examining the different types of fat in our bodies, brown fat versus white fat, points to some promising ways to boost our inner fire. Brown fat, found in limited amounts in our bodies, actually burns calories compared to our “lazier” white fat cells. Chronic exercise can help convert white fat to brown fat, and colder environments can help activate brown fat.  While more research is needed to examine brown fat’s impact on our metabolic rate, the current information gives us just one more reason to exercise…and perhaps embrace this chilly winter!

Concerned you might have a slow metabolism? Measure it with my Body Gem Metabolic Rate test!

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.