You don't need a magic pill to boost your metabolic rate. It takes just seven minor adjustments to turn your body into a calorie-burning machine.
1. Graze Like a Sheep
You've probably heard that six small meals a day are better than three larger ones, but Ben Greenfield, author of 100 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism, takes it a step further and suggests eating 10 times a day. If you eat frequently, he says, you maintain a higher metabolic rate because the physical act of digestion raises your metabolism.
2. Go Organic—When Necessary
The Nutrition Twins® Lyssie Lakatos, R.D., and Tammy Lakatos Shames R.D., say it's not important (or always in the budget) to buy everything organic, but some heavily-sprayed nonorganic fruits and veggies can alter your metabolism by interrupting your endocrine system. Buy these 12 items organic: apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach and strawberries.
3. Twitch and Fidget Off Calories
A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic showed that leaner people spend more than two hours a day fidgeting, standing and walking compared with obese people. That translates to a difference of 350 calories a day. Keep your metabolism revved up with small, frequent movements like tapping your feet, rolling your neck in circles or shrugging your shoulders.
4. Beat Stress to Defeat Fat
Elevated stress levels could be holding you back from achieving your highest metabolic rate, says Elizabeth Stein, founder of Appetite for Healthy Living, a health and wellness practice in New York City. "Stress leads to increased levels of cortisol, which leaves fat accumulation in the body," she says. So relax! Take five deep breaths before every meal and practice a few yoga moves daily.
5. Turn Into a Top Chef
Big shocker: Cruising through the drive-through or phoning in for pad thai won't help you burn any calories. When you prepare your own meals, you're not only burning calories in the kitchen, you're also controlling what goes into your dishes. Experiment with spices — your metabolism responds to heat by increasing your body temperature and metabolic activity.
6. Pump Iron With Active Rest
A pound of muscle can burn up to nine times as many calories as a pound of fat, so the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns (even while you sleep). Greenfield suggests doing exercises that use the most body parts in the least amount of time, such as squats, lunges, rows, push-ups and pull-ups. Extra boost: Instead of waiting 45 seconds to a minute between reps, do jumping jacks or lunge jumps.
7. Try Two-Minute Cardio Bursts
Breaking up a long workout into two shorter, spaced-out ones burns more calories because of "postexercise metabolic effect," or the increase in calorie burn for hours after exercise, Greenfield says. For the best metabolism boost, incorporate interval training; a few two-minute bursts of speed or added resistance throughout your 30-minute workout will burn more calories during and after.