It may not feel like it, but the long hibernation of this season is almost over. Studies show that we all eat more during the winter months as a primitive way to prepare for colder temperatures. With impending warmer temps and spring days, now is the perfect time to ease out of your bear cave and get back into the habit of revving up your metabolism.
Many of us believe that boosting our metabolism takes a lot of effort and time, making it feel impossible. To the contrary, these tricks to kick-start your healthy living routine are pretty darn simple. Try out one or two, and you’ll be raring to go come spring.
01. Start Your Day with Breakfast
If cold, dark mornings didn’t inspire you to rise in time for a good meal this winter, try to form a routine of eating breakfast every single morning. Starting your day with a meal before you head out burns between 10 and 30 percent more calories. However, starting your day with junk food negates the metabolism-boosting benefits of breakfast. Instead of grabbing for the Lucky Charms, try a bowl of colorful fruit. If you really want to jump-start your metabolism, a steamy bowl of oatmeal topped with flaxseed is a great high-fiber option. Your body burns more calories digesting fiber because it takes so long to break down. This will send your metabolism soaring and prepare you for the day ahead.
02. Exercise with Resistance
We all know that it’s good to focus on strength as well as cardio, but it turns out that resistance training keeps working long after your workout is over. Focusing your routine on your muscles not only burns calories in the moment but for days after exercising as well. According to a 2011 study out of Southern Illinois University, exercisers who did a fifteen-minute resistance workout routine were likely to burn up to a hundred more calories a day for three days after the workout. Try doing one to three sets of five resistance exercises just three days a week, such as squats or push-ups.
03. Drink Up
Quite possibly the most integral part of kick-starting your metabolism: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Getting enough H2O comes easily in the hot summer months when you’re sweating bullets and a glass of ice water is refreshing. However, when winter rolls around, it’s easy to forget to hydrate. Researchers at the University of Utah found that drinking eight 8-ounce glasses a day can bolster your metabolic rate, which helps to burn more calories. If you aren’t getting your hydration quota, try carrying a water bottle around with you at work and home.
04. Lay Off the Alcohol
With all the family gatherings and holiday parties behind you, take the opportunity to cut back (or cut out) the alcohol in your diet. Not only does alcohol add unnecessary and empty calories, but it’s also guilty of slowing down your metabolism. Alcohol cannot be stored in the body, so when you consume it, your body works to rid itself of the booze ASAP. This means that the liver gets straight to work getting rid of the alcohol, putting all the other metabolizing processes on hold. Stick to a glass of wine, or consume your booze in moderation to keep your metabolism in tip-top shape.
05. Indulge in Potatoes, Grains, and Beans
Potatoes probably aren’t the first things that come to mind when you think fat burning. But it’s true. Resistant starches—a type of fiber found in carbohydrate-rich foods such as potatoes, grains, and beans—can actually help to speed up metabolism and burn more fat and reduce overall hunger. Research has shown that replacing five percent of your total carb intake with a resistant starch can increase your fat burning by 20 to 30 percent. That doesn’t mean splurging on the loaded fries though—keep that baked potato healthy and flavorful with simple spices, not cheese and sour cream.
06. Get Enough Z’s
We all could use a bit more sleep. Make getting in your eight hours a priority for the sake of your metabolism. Even short-term sleep deprivation can make a healthy person process sugar like a diabetic because sleep affects how your body reacts to insulin. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reports, “Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase your risk for diabetes.” Sleep is key to maintaining a properly working and healthy metabolism. Try committing to moving bedtime up by an hour or even just half an hour. Your body will thank you in more ways than one.
With spring on the horizon, there’s no better time than now to kick-start that metabolism and beat the end-of-winter blues.
Photo Credit: Brooke Lark