Let’s face it – it’s not easy to find motivation to exercise during the winter. But you can still boost your metabolism by making simple changes to what you eat and drink. Incorporating just a few of these easy tips into your everyday routine might just help you shed a few extra pounds and get the toned physique you want for summer, all without slaving away in the gym.
That morning Norbucks run might not be a bad idea. A study from the scientific journal Physiology & Behavior reported that the average metabolic rate of people who drank caffeinated coffee was higher than that of people who drank decaf. But remember: everything in moderation, unless you need to pull an all-nighter. Too much caffeine can frazzle your focus by causing mental irritability and anxiety.
How to make it work: Stick with a small cup in the morning or during the mid-afternoon, when you need an extra jolt to power through the day. Balance your caffeine intake with plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
Your body burns more calories while it digests protein than when it digests carbs or fat, but this doesn’t mean you need to start chugging protein shakes. Instead, try adding more turkey, eggs, chicken or fish into your diet. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, tofu is a great choice.
How to make it work: In the dining hall, make a turkey sandwich, go for a piece of chicken or top your salad with tofu. If you live in an apartment, hard-boiled eggs are a simple way to pack in some protein – you can eat them on the go as you rush to your morning class or mix them with some mayo to make egg salad.
3. Green Tea
If you’re not a coffee fan or you’re just bored with the taste of java, green tea is a perfect alternative to warm you up on those 10-degree days. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea extract caused a four percent increase in 24-hour energy expenditure (how much energy, in calories, is used to carry out bodily activities). Green tea contains no calories, and it can fight against cancer and cardiovascular disease, making it a beverage choice that’s hard to beat.
How to make it work: Pour yourself a morning cup of green tea to perk up, or enjoy one as an after-dinner soother as you settle down to study. For something a little different, try Spoon’s green tea smoothie recipe.
4. Chili peppers
If you like spiciness, this one’s for you: the chemical compound that makes chilis hot may also boost metabolism. Still, take note – one study found that over time, people might not experience the same benefits from the red peppers, so those who don’t regularly eat on the spicy side might benefit more in the long run.
How to make it work: Start feeling the burn by garnishing your next pizza with spicy chilies, or poke some hot peppers into a grilled cheese sandwich.
5. Drink more water
Yes, the liquid that’s essential to our survival has greater benefits than just keeping us alive: dehydration can actually reduce metabolism. What’s more, evidence suggests that greater body fluid volume may benefit fat breakdown. As another bonus, upping your H2O intake can help with mental performance.
How to make it work: Drink a glass of water every time that you stop for a meal or a snack. Carry a bottle throughout the day, and think of a visual cue to remind you to drink. For instance, every time you look at your shoes, take a swig.