Incorporate these habits into your a.m. routine to burn more calories all day long.
Your metabolic rate—i.e. the number of calories that your body burns while at rest—greatly impacts your overall health. The faster your metabolism, the more calories you can consume without gaining weight—and vice versa for a slo-mo metabolism.
While there are certain uncontrollable variables that influence your metabolism (like genetics, gender and age), there are also certain things you can do to speed it up. And the most important time to implement these habits? The morning.
“The first few hours of your day are arguably the most effective period of time to kickstart your metabolism,” says Mike Clancy, nutritionist and certified strength and conditioning specialist in New York City.
Here, Clancy and six other experts share advice for simple morning habits that will set you—and your metabolism—on the fast track for success.
Downing H2O boosts your metabolism thanks to a process known as water-induced thermogenesis, explains NYC-based registered nurse Rebecca Lee. “When you drink a glass of cold, or even room-temperature water, your system has to burn calories to heat it up to your body temperature,” Lee says.
New Year. New Food. Healthy eating starts here, with the Cooking Light Diet.
Ensure adequate intake by placing a glass of water or water bottle on your nightstand before going to bed, recommends Jessica Krauss, an integrative nutrition health coach in NYC. When you wake up—before even getting out of bed—take a few minutes to drink at least 16 oz. and slowly get your body hydrated and energized. “You can still have your coffee,” says Krauss [and more on that later]. “But make sure to have water first.”
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Add a touch of lemon
For an extra metabolic boost (and zest of flavor) add some lemon juice—about 1 tablespoon per cup—to your water. “It nourishes the body with vitamin C, which assists with burning fat on a cellular level,” says Marissa West, a North Carolina-based certified personal trainer.
Enjoy that cup of Joe
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Loading up on sugary beverages can derail your efforts, adding more calories than a happy metabolism can handle,” she says. Stick with one teaspoon (or less) of sugar per cup. Other ways you can get a sans sugar caffeine boost: add some instant coffee or tea to your morning smoothie (if that’s your breakfast of choice), or make your smoothie with cold tea or coffee, says Susan Bowerman, a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian.
Brew a cup of green tea
“Green tea contains four types of catechins, which are antioxidant phytochemicals that encourage your body to burn fat as energy,” says Clancy. And because green tea also contains caffeine, it’s doubly effective at revving your metabolism, explains Lee. An average cup of green tea contains around 180 mg of catechins, but this can vary depending on a number of factors. To boost the amount of catechins per cup, Lee recommends using loose-leaf green tea. “Bring the water to a rolling boil before pouring it over the leaves,” she explains. “Then leave it to infuse for five minutes before straining.” To maximize the effect, Clancy recommends sipping three to four cups a day.
Don’t skip breakfast
Sleeping is basically an overnight fast, and in the morning your body expects some energy to get it going, explains Markowitz. “When you skip breakfast and skimp on calories throughout the day, your body is unsure when to next expect fuel and in turn attempts to minimize energy expenditure, essentially slowing metabolism,” she says. To avoid this metabolic pitfall, eat breakfast within one hour of waking up.
Load up on protein
The number of calories burned after a meal—a process called “postprandial thermogenesis”—is higher with a high protein/low-fat meal than a high carbohydrate/low-fat meal, explains Bowerman.
Instead of a high carb breakfast (e.g. cereal or a bagel), build your breakfast around protein-rich foods, like nonfat Greek yogurt with berries (throw in some spinach and a splash of milk to make a smoothie); cottage cheese with fresh fruit, or a two-egg omelette with diced veggies. Or try one of these 40 Protein-Packed Breakfast Recipes.
Spice up your morning meal
Studies show that spicy foods (especially those with the compound capsaicin, which is found in chili peppers), can help rev metabolism, says Bowerman. Top your omelet with some spicy salsa, or sprinkle some chili pepper on your eggs in the morning for an extra lift.
Go for a brisk walk
Strolling for fifteen to twenty minutes is “a great way to wake up your metabolism and get your heart pumping and blood moving for the day,” says Sarah Schlichter, a North Carolina-based registered dietitian. Don’t have that much time? Amp up the intensity of a 10-minute walk by tackling a hill or adding in a few spurts of light jogging.
Or squeeze in five minutes of cardio
If it’s too cold outside for a walk (and you don’t have access to a treadmill), bust out a quick cardio circuit in your living room, says West. It can be as brief as five one-minute bursts of exercises like high knees, jumping jacks, butt kicks, push-ups and mountain climbers. These moves will dial up your metabolism and ensure you are burning calories all day long, she says.
Incorporate strength training
If you have time for an extended workout, focus on strength training, says Krauss. “Building muscle is fat-burning and calorie torching,” she says. If you feel intimidated by lifting weights or doing a high-intensity class, try barre or Pilates. “These are amazing, low-intensity, injury-preventing options for building long and lean muscles, strengthening your core, and torching fat,” she adds.