Better Living uses affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission (for which we are deeply grateful) at no cost to you.
It’s the beginning of the new year! A time for resolutions and setting goals. If you’re like me, you just realized a long holiday season of eating things that were great for your taste buds, but no so great for the waistline finally caught up with you. Time to get those eating habits in check and rev up that metabolism so we can shed that extra weight! You with me?
Proper diet and exercise will always be the cornerstone to true weight loss, but there are some things you can do to naturally boost your metabolism, burn fat and to help your body shed the extra weight. We teamed up with iHerb.com to suggest 10 ways you get back into your skinny jeans sooner than later.
1. Drink More Water
This one may seem a little too easy, but recent studies have shown that drinking water before meals has led to an increase in weight loss in test subjects. Studies showed that subjects who would fill up on water before meals would get fuller faster and eat less than they would without the water. Basically, you take in fewer calories without having to think about it.
Drinking more water can also alleviate dehydration, a metabolism killer. Often times when we’re dehydrated, our bodies trick us into thinking we’re hungry. Next time you feel a hunger pang, your body might just be craving water! Try drinking a tall glass of water first and then see if the feeling of hunger dissipates before you go grab a snack.
According to Men’s Fitness, water speeds up metabolism and flushes out toxins from the body, ensuring that your organs can function with efficiency.
Try starting your mornings with an ice-cold glass of H2O. Researchers at the University of Utah found that volunteers who drank eight to 12 eight-ounce glasses of water per day had higher metabolic rates than those who drank only four glasses. “Your body may burn a few calories heating the cold water to your core temperature,” says Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., founder and director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Weight Management Center.
If you’re not a water drinker, try adding slices of fruit like watermelon, strawberries, lemon or berries for a bit of flavor without the added sugars found in sodas and juices.
2. Drink Green Tea & Matcha
Green tea is known for its cancer-fighting compounds, but it also packs a punch when it comes to weight loss. Although Green tea does have some caffeine (a metabolism booster on its own), it’s also chock full of antioxidants. It’s most notable fat burning antioxidant, ECGC (Epigallocatechin gallate) has been proven in many studies to be a metabolism boosting superhero and enhance the fat burning process.
One study showed that those who consumed green tea and caffeine lost an average of 2.9 pounds during a 12-week period while sticking to their regular diet. Another study suggested the increase in calorie output was equal to about 100 calories over a 24-hour period. (1)
Matcha, a variety green tea is considered the richest source of nutrients and antioxidants among all types of green teas. That means, even more ECGC and more fat burning power! Here’s why matcha is different: The whole leaf of the tea is actually ground into a fine powder and consumed in the hot water as opposed to steeping the leaf and then removing it. Just one glass of matcha is the equivalent of 10 glasses of green tea in terms of nutritional value and antioxidant content.
Matcha not only tastes great but is also super versatile. It can be used to add flavor things like smoothies, yogurt, milks and traditional recipes. Try it served cold over ice for a twist on iced tea and start burning that fat away!
Want to try matcha for yourself? You might just get hooked. We love The Tao of Tea’s, 100% Organic Japanese Powdered Matcha Green Tea. We like to order ours from iherb.com.
Here’s the proper way to brew green tea so you get none of the bitter and you preserve all the green tea’s metabolism boosting chemicals, which are sensitive to fully boiled water.
3. Take Fish Oil
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, something many of us are deficient in. Omega 3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat that boosts the body’s metabolism, help balance sugar, reduces cravings and maintains heart health. Both DHA and EPA, components of omega-3 fatty acids, are effective in eliminating unwanted body fat.
In a 2010 study, subjects took about 2 grams of Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) every day for 6 weeks. At the end of the study they lost more than 2 lbs of body fat without change in exercise, diet, or other habits. (2)
We recommend Ultimate Omega Fish Oil and get ours from our iherb.com. Their prices are great and they ship super fast. Ultimate Omega Fish Oil offers concentrated levels of omega-3s for high-intensity essential fatty acid support. Plus, it’s wild caught and tested by a third-party certified lab for environmental toxins, including heavy metals. And best of all there’s absolutely no fishy aftertaste.
4. Cut Out Processed Foods
Processed foods are full of fillers, GMOs, preservatives, sugars,”bad” carbohydrates, trans fats and empty calories. After eating these foods, usually for the convenience, we normally don’t feel satiated and will continue to eat. Ingredients such as salt, sugar, and fat are sometimes added to processed these foods to make them taste better and to prolong their shelf life. All in all, these foods are calorie dense with not much actual nutrition to give our bodies and contribute to weight gain. To keep your blood sugar levels steady and your metabolism up, limit the consumption of sugar and refined grain. Instead, choose whole grain foods with a high fiber content.
5. Increase Your Protein
Protein is an important nutrient for weight loss and requires more energy to digest. There’s this thing called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF). It’s the energy our bodies use to digest food. Protein has a higher TEF than carbohydrates and fat. Meaning you’re actually burning more calories to process protein than to process the other two. Eating fish, lean meats, eggs and plant proteins keep your metabolism going long after the hours of consumption. Protein shakes are an easy way to add more protein to your diet and have been shown to help with weight loss. They’re also a great way to boost energy for the day and give you a meal on the go.
There are many different types of protein powders on the market. We kind of love this dairy free, gluten free, vegan one from Sunwarrior. This is how it’s described:
“Warrior Blend fuses and multiplies the power of several rich, raw protein sources into a smooth, great tasting, and revolutionary proprietary formula that is overwhelmingly superior to the individual components alone. Warrior Blend is an easily digestible, nutrient filled superfood perfect for anyone who wants to amplify their health and fitness levels. Best of all, it tastes phenomenal! It is a complete protein contains all essential amino acids. Creates a feeling of satiety (fullness). Promotes muscle function. Ideal for healthy weight loss. Easy to Digest. Increases energy. WARRIOR BLEND is a green product and is suitable for any diet or lifestyle (NOT JUST FOR VEGANS)! Our natural, raw process is free of solvents, GMOs, radiation, artificial colors, and preservatives.”
Check it out here on iherb.com!
6. Try Supplementing With Guggul
Did you say Google? Nope, guggul. For over 3000 thousand years, Ayurvedic medicine (the traditional Indian system of medicine), has been using Guggul to treat a variety of conditions ranging from pain and inflammation to high cholesterol and thyroid problems. In Sanskrit “guggul” actually, translates to “one that protects against diseases” and has been used for hundreds of years to fight obesity in India. More recently guggul has been getting more credit for increasing metabolism and aiding in weight loss.
What exactly is guggul? Guggul is derived from a resinous sap obtained from the bark of the mukul myrrh tree(Commiphora mukul). Small and thorny these trees are found in India.
Guggul contains chemical compounds called “guggulsterones” and has the ability to stimulate the production of the thyroid gland hormones and increase the production of the T4 and T3 thyroid hormones. These hormones play a crucial role in your body’s metabolism and in energy regulation in the body in general. When the thyroid isn’t producing enough of these hormones a condition known as hypothyroidism occurs. Weight gain and inability to lose weight is a common symptom.
A promising study on guggul was done in 1995 (3). Indian researchers gave 58 subjects 1.5 to 3 grams of guggulipid in conjunction with a 1200-1600 calorie per day diet and 30 minutes of walking. Subjects who took the guggul were measured to have lost 4.22 pounds more than those who took no guggul.
Although guggul is considered non-toxic it is always recommended to consult your doctor before trying something new.
7. Check Your Vitamin D Levels
Doctors and scientists now acknowledge there is a definitive link between individuals who suffer from obesity and vitamin D deficiency(4). In other words, if you’re overweight, chances are your vitamin D levels may be lower than you think.
Research has also shown that increasing your vitamin D levels can improve weight loss while following a reduced-calorie diet.(5) More recent research has found that women considered overweight or obese, who then lost weight had an increase in vitamin D levels. (6)
A recent study presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting followed 38 overweight men and women on an 11-week diet plan. Subjects with higher levels of vitamin D at the beginning of the diet lost more total weight than subjects with lower vitamin D levels.(7) Although the exact mechanism of how and why vitamin D influences weight loss is still somewhat of a mystery, the evidence seems to be clear: if you want to stay lean make sure to get your D!
What’s the best way to get vitamin D? Commonly known as the sunshine vitamin, our bodies naturally make vitamin D when our skin comes in contact with UVB sun rays. Recommended skin exposure times range from 10-20 minutes in the sun daily. This can make approximately 1,000 to 10,000 IU of the vitamin within the body. But this range is vast and depends upon the time of year, geographical location (distance from the equator), and how much skin is exposed. Sunlight is considered the best source of the vitamin. But in winter this can be difficult and next to impossible for those of us who live in cold northern climates. Although foods such as wild-caught fish like mackerel, salmon, halibut and mushrooms have higher amounts of vitamin d than most foods, it’s still not enough. It’s recommended by the Vitamin D Council to supplement with 5000 IU’s of vitamin D3 daily.
8. Eat Your Greens
It’s no secret that adding more leafy greens and fresh veggies to our diets is great for weight loss. Vegetables supply our bodies with tons of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but they also keep us feeling fuller longer due to their higher fiber and water content. Plus, they contain a treasure trove of nutrients. When our bodies are properly nourished, we tend to crave less of the bad stuff (you hear me donuts).
To get more of the green stuff in your diet, try having a salad every day at lunch or sauteing some veggies with your morning eggs (think kale, peppers, spinach or broccoli).
If you’ve tried to increase your intake of greens and feel you are still missing the mark, we recommend the Vibrant Health, Green Vibrance Green Superfood. It’s a plant based supplement bursting with organic greens, superfoods, and nutrients that will help your body get the nutrients it needs even if you have a demanding schedule. It can be hard to eat great all the time, but Green Vibrance is a great product that will keep you energized and your metabolism on point. You can get yours at iherb.com!
9. Spice Up Your Life With Chilis
That’s right! Add some heat to your diet! Capsaicin, the naturally occurring chemical found in chili peppers that makes your mouth burn and eyes water, is the same compound that can seriously boost your metabolism.
Studies have shown that spicy bowl of chili, can provide a temporary rise in metabolism of about 8% greater than a person’s typical calorie burn. Though you would probably have to eat a lot of capsaicin to have a substantial effect on your total weight loss, this temporary boost in metabolic rate may also help to suppress your desire to eat.
Other studies have indicated that perhaps the result is not an effect of increased metabolic rate, but that eating spicy foods makes one feel fuller and therefore consume less actual food. One prominent study found that when adult men consumed appetizers with hot sauce, they ate 200 calories less at later meals than those that did not. The study concluded that spicy foods may work as a mild appetite suppressant as well.
10. Eat Breakfast!
If you want to start your day off right and increase your metabolic rate, begin each day by eating a balanced breakfast.
The National Weight Control Registry, one of the largest ongoing studies of successful weight loss maintenance, has found that the majority of people who have lost at least 30 pounds and have kept it off for five years or more eat breakfast every day.
Not only do we burn calories through the digestion of food, eating breakfast can boost your energy levels, which also helps to increase calories burned throughout the day. We also tend to binge less later in the day. Breakfast choices should include protein rich foods like eggs. “Consuming protein is critical to jump starting your metabolism for the day and preventing overeating later on,” says Mark Hyman, M.D.
Make sure you avoid sugary cereals and baked goods. Not only are these foods usually high in calories with little nutritional payoff, they spike and then plummet blood sugar levels, causing you to get hungry shortly after you eat them.