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Increase Your Metabolism -- And Start Losing Fat

How Age Changes Your Metabolism continued...

The good news? A vastly slowed down metabolism isn’t inevitable, he says. It only occurs because North Americans tend to become far less physically active over the course of their lives. In fact, research shows that people who preserve their physical activity levels throughout their lifetime can expect to see only a 0.3% metabolic decline per decade. This is a huge difference, Berardi tells WebMD -- only a 1% to 2% total drop over a person’s lifetime. 

To  increase your metabolism -- and keep it humming -- practice the following habits:

  • Build some brawn. Putting on just 5 to 10 pounds of lean muscle mass will rev up your resting metabolism -- the number of calories your body burns to maintain life -- by roughly 100 calories, each and every day, Berardi says.


  • Burn, baby, burn. Maximize the calories you burn after exercise by integrating high intensity intervals into your workout. Alternate 3 minutes of moderate intensity running or biking with 30 seconds of all-out effort. You’ll burn another 100 to 200 calories this way, Berardi says, even while sitting on the couch or lying in bed.


  • Hit the sack. Skimping on sleep can alter your metabolism, says Sanjay Patel, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.  Lack of sleep can decrease the number of calories your body burns just resting -- performing the basic necessities of life, like pumping blood, breathing and repairing damaged tissues. According to Berardi, the rate of calories your body burns at rest represents about 60% to 75% of your total daily calorie burning, which makes slowing it through lack of sleep a serious roadblock to weight loss.


  • Eat often. Berardi recommends eating every 2 to 3 hours. Each time you eat, you stimulate your metabolism for a short period of time, which means that the more often you eat, the more you’ll increase your metabolism. Eating every 2 to 3 hours feeds muscle and starves fat. By eating frequently, you reassure your body that you aren’t going to starve; that food will always be available. Skipping breakfast, eating only a sandwich for lunch, and pigging out at dinner, on the other hand, frightens your body into storing fat, just in case your next meal never comes. Research from Georgia State University shows that people who eat every 2 to 3 hours have less body fat and faster metabolisms than those who eat only 2 or 3 meals per day.


  • … But eat right. Frequent eating doesn’t mean snacking, Berardi cautions. Rather than munching mindlessly, make each mini-meal complete -- with a serving of vegetables and a healthy source of protein like eggs, chicken, or nuts. Upping your intake of high-fiber foods like vegetables is one of the best ways to increase your metabolism, says Kristine Clark, PhD, RD, FACSM, assistant professor and director of sports nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate, but the body tries hard to break it down anyway, using up energy -- and boosting metabolism in the process. Plus, vegetables are low in calories, yet high in nutrients -- a huge boon for your weight loss efforts.

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