Feel like your weight loss is moving at a snail's pace? It's possible that your metabolism has slowed, or in some extreme cases, stalled. Metabolic rate plays a big role in how quickly you see results. The faster your metabolism, the more calories you burn on a day-to-day basis, whether you're sweating at the gym or relaxing on the couch.
If you feel like your metabolic rate, or how many calories you burn on a daily basis, could benefit from a boost, the good news is that there are ways to help a slow metabolism gain momentum! Here are WBFF pro Ashley Hoffmann's seven best tips to increase your metabolic rate and rev up your fat loss.
1 Hit The Weights
If you'd describe yourself as a cardio bunny, you may be surprised to learn that long sessions of steady cardiovascular exercise aren't the best way boost your overall metabolic rate. Instead of spending all of your time on the treadmill, spend some time hitting the weights!
Because muscle is metabolically active tissue—that is, it takes energy to maintain—building muscle mass can "increase your metabolic rate and help you burn calories faster," Hoffmann explains.
Strength training is one of the first and best things you can do to burn more calories all day long, whether in the gym or out. Once muscle is built—provided it's maintained with proper nutrition for fuel—you'll constantly have a higher total daily calorie burn. This makes lifting helpful for fat loss and weight maintenance.
As you begin lifting, don't be afraid to push your limits. It takes new challenges and heavier weights (progressive overload) on an ongoing basis to develop lean mass. If you aren't challenging yourself, you're only going to stay the same and miss out on potential growth.
If you're new to the world of weights, check out Bodybuilding.com's Find a Plan section, which includes multiple fat-loss lifting plans to help you get started!
2 HIIT Your Cardio
Along with lifting, Hoffmann also recommends starting a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) program. "HIIT cardio can be anything from sprints on the treadmill to flipping a heavy tire," she explains. "Sessions should last no more than 20-25 minutes each. You'll go all-out for 20-30 seconds, then use interspersed rest intervals to bring your heart rate back down."
If you need a HIIT workout, Hoffmann has you covered. Check out her High-Voltage HIIT Routine and start sprinting toward faster fat loss!
However, if you're too short on time to add full-fledged HIIT cardio sessions to your plan, Hoffmann suggests adding intervals between your weight-lifting sets. "Smashing a medicine ball against the ground or jumping rope for 30 seconds between sets work well," she says. You can also try mountain climbers, jumping jacks, or any other bodyweight exercise.
HIIT cardio is very intense, so make sure that you balance it with the rest of your program. Two to three sessions per week should be more than enough to allow you to see the fat-loss results you're looking without hindering your lifting sessions or weight-training goals.
3 Check Your Protein Intake
The next step to take when speeding up your metabolism is to boost your protein intake. "Be sure you're getting one gram of protein per pound of lean mass," Hoffmann recommends. "Protein is a very important macronutrient that our bodies need [in order] to build and maintain muscle, which is critical when losing fat."
Hoffmann also notes that protein takes more energy to break down and digest than carbohydrates or fat do. Because of its higher thermic effect, protein can aid any weight-loss diet. In addition, protein is possibly the most satiating macronutrient, which means it can help you stay full for a long period of time.4
Harness The Power Of Green Tea And
If you typically start your day with a cup of coffee, you're already taking a step toward boosting your metabolic rate. "Just as it helps to wake you up, caffeine also gives your metabolism a jump start," Hoffmann explains.
For even more bonus points, opt for green tea. While green tea might contain slightly less caffeine than your average cup of coffee, it contains catechins like EGCG, which may help boost your metabolic rate and can lead to effective weight loss as a result.
A study published in the "Journal of Nutrition" noted that obese individuals who consumed a catechin-containing green tea beverage and engaged in moderate-intensity exercise three days a week observed greater loss in abdominal fat compared to a group who consumed a caffeine beverage without catechins.1 If you're looking for that extra edge, green tea could be a good option.
5 Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Even slight amounts of dehydration can have a negative impact on your metabolic rate. Most people often don't even realize they're dehydrated until it gets to a more severe stage. To ensure you're getting enough H2O, try to have an 8-ounce glass of water with every meal and keep a water bottle nearby.
As Hoffmann notes, sipping on water can also help curb hunger, while skipping out can leave you feeling peckish, even when you're not hungry. "Not drinking enough water can often lead to cravings when, really, you're just thirsty," she says.
Lastly, remember that not all drinks are created equally. Don't rely on energy drinks, high-calorie coffee beverages, soda, fruit juice, or other calorie-laden drinks to quench your thirst. These beverages included added sugar that only move you further away from your fat-loss goal.
6 Keep Crash Diets Out Of The Picture
With promises of rapid weight loss made easy, it's no wonder that crash diets attract many people. Don't fall for the fad. "When you jump on the newest diet train, you risk cutting out foods you might need to remain healthy while engaging in a regular exercise program," says Hoffmann.
Instead of cutting out carbs entirely or drastically altering your nutrition habits, which is typically unsustainable, follow Hoffmann's advice. "Be flexible with your food choices, and opt for whole foods that fuel your body well," she says. After all, no matter how great a diet promises to be, it's useless if you can't stick to it.
With that said, always keep the long-term picture in mind. While crash diets might deliver results almost immediately, those inches lost and pounds dropped are often very short lived. By using a smart, long-term approach, you'll develop healthy habits you can stick with for years to come.
7 Stress Less
Finally, Hoffmann recommends gaining control over your stress levels. "Our bodies produce stress hormones like cortisol that can encourage fat storage," she explains. This is especially true if you suffer from chronic stress.
By keeping your stress levels lower, you'll make it easier to get lean in the long run. Try and find a few stress-busting tactics that work for you and put those into action, whether they be mediating, reading, or just sitting down with a cup of tea. Stress can easily creep up on you, so try and be aware of your emotional state and stay tuned into how you're feeling throughout your fitness journey.
- Maki, K. C., Reeves, M. S., Farmer, M., Yasunaga, K., Matsuo, N., Katsuragi, Y., ... & Cartwright, Y. (2009). Green tea catechin consumption enhances exercise-induced abdominal fat loss in overweight and obese adults. The Journal of Nutrition, 139(2), 264-270.