Technically, your metabolism is the process by which your body breaks down food and converts it into energy. Un-technically, it’s that thing that you want to speed up as much as possible to help you lose weight.
For that, we’re here to help. While your metabolism is largely hereditary and can slow down with age, research shows some foods, behaviors, and activities can raise or lower your metabolism, therefore changing the amount of energy your body burns during a specific period of time.
Some trendy approaches to boosting metabolism have gained attention in recent years—intermittent fasting, apple cider vinegar, etc.—but there’s no evidence to suggest they have any significant effect on metabolism and could even have a negative effect on your overall health.
Instead, incorporate these habits into your everyday routine to give your metabolism a helpful boost.
1. Opt for Organic
Canadian researchers found dieters who consume lots of organochlorines—a type of pesticide pollutant stored in fat cells—experience a greater than normal dip in metabolism as they lose weight, perhaps because the toxins interfere with the energy-burning process.
Other research hints that pesticides can trigger weight gain. Choose organic when buying peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes, and pears; non-organic versions tend to have the highest levels of pesticides.
2. Add Iron to Your Diet
Iron is essential for transporting the oxygen your muscles need to burn fat, says Tammy Lakatos, RD, coauthor of Fire Up Your Metabolism.
Until menopause, women lose iron each month through menstruation. Unless you restock your stores, you run the risk of low energy and a sagging metabolism. Shellfish, lean meats, beans, fortified cereals, and spinach are excellent sources.
3. Avoid snacking at night.
“Eating carbs in the evening leads to metabolic problems, because the body is more resistant to insulin at night,” explained Aaron Cypess, MD, PhD, in a previous interview.
This can result in a higher blood sugar, which can contribute to weight gain and other complications. Protein doesn’t cut it here either—it only takes a few extra steps for protein to be converted to carbs and fat. Any extra calories at night will be stored as fat, so eat dinner early and keep snacking light.