Nancy Kalish

5 Ways to Fire up Your Metabolism

Everyone longs for one of those I-can-eat-anything-and-not-gain-an-ounce metabolisms. Unfortunately, those are rare (and if you’re reading this, you probably don’t have one). But there are ways to increase your body’s ability to burn calories, so I advise all my clients to add the following metabolism boosters to their routine.

Try one or more to help you maximize your own weight loss efforts

Metabolism Booster No. 1: Don’t overdo your diet.

Many of my clients come to me convinced they have to almost starve themselves to lose weight. But in fact, that’s the perfect way to slow down your metabolism and make it much harder to drop pounds, especially if you want to keep them off. Research shows that you need ample food throughout the day to keep your metabolism running on high and burning lots of calories. (This also helps prevent bingeing.) So be sure to follow what I call the Rule of 10: Multiply your goal weight by 10 and never eat fewer calories than that total. You’ll still lose weight and keep your metabolism stoked. 

Metabolism Booster No. 2: Eat with your body clock.

Digesting a big, healthy breakfast (whole grains, lean protein and fruit) jump-starts your metabolism in the morning. In addition, your metabolism naturally peaks around noon, so it’s best to eat a bigger breakfast and lunch and a smaller dinner. That way, you’ll be more likely to burn off the calories you’ve consumed. Bonus: According to one large study, women who ate larger morning meals consumed fewer total daily calories without even trying than those who ate less or skipped breakfast entirely.

Metabolism Booster No. 3: Bring on the beans.

All varieties of beans contain a particular starch that, research shows, increases your body’s fat burning by up to 30 percent after meals. Plus, beans are bursting with fiber that is good for your heart and will keep you feeling full longer. So add a cup to a salad or soup. And for an even bigger boost, sprinkle just one tablespoon of chopped red or green chilies on top of your beans (or any dish). This will temporarily spike your metabolism about 23 percent more, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology.

Metabolism Booster No. 4: Be smart about supplements.

If you’re not already taking vitamin D for bone health and cancer prevention, now’s the time to start. A University of Minnesota study found that dieters with the highest levels of D lost significantly more weight -- up to 5.5 additional pounds over 11 weeks -- than those with the lowest levels, and more of that weight was dangerous abdominal fat. You should also start taking fish oil, which is good for a lot more than just your heart and brain. New research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that regular exercisers who took fish oil supplements revved their metabolism enough to lose an additional 3.4 pounds more over 12 weeks than those who didn’t take the supplements.

Metabolism Booster No. 5: Go slow when strength training.

Lifting weight builds muscle, which helps you burn more calories than fat, automatically boosting your calorie burn -- even while you sleep. Now, research from Wayne State finds that doing strength training super-slowly has even more benefits, cranking up your metabolism for as long as 72 hours afterwards. Here’s how to do it: Raise weights to a slow count of three, pause at the top, then lower slowly to another count of three. The weight should be heavy enough so that it’s a struggle to maintain proper form during the last rep. 


Nancy Kalish is the managing editor of this website and has written for O, The Oprah Magazine; Prevention; Self; Real Simple; and many other publications. She also works with clients one-on-one as a certified health coach. Learn more at


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