We often assume that in order to burn more calories, we need to follow a particular food regimen like eating clean or juicing on the regular. What you may be interested to know is that there are natural metabolism boosters out there that can speed up your digestive processes—and they’re not daunting to implement. As we’ve already discussed, metabolism boosters can come in the form of foods like avocado and kale, or they can be beverages (matcha works wonders). But now we’re venturing beyond that to find daily habits to add to your lifestyle.
Your metabolism—all your digestive processes combined—is specific to you as a person. In fact, studies of identical twins show that your metabolism is determined when you’re born. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t change how it runs. “If you have a naturally slow metabolism, weight gain is by no means inevitable, and though it may be harder to shed body fat, it’s nearly always possible,” says weight-loss expert Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland in Baltimore.
Below find the top five natural metabolism boosters that will keep your digestive system on track—and your body healthy.
BEGIN WITH BREAKFAST
There’s some truth to that old wisdom about breakfast being the most important meal of the day. Your metabolism will slow down if you aren’t putting enough food in your system, so it’s important to eat consistently throughout the day. “Eating breakfast gets the engine going and keeps it going,” says Mark Hyman, MD, an integrative and functional medicine specialist and author of Ultrametabolism. Results from the National Weight Control Registry support that, considering 78% of those studied who lost weight (and kept it off) started their day with a hearty morning meal.
Okay, so we said we weren’t going to talk about specific foods, but we figured a whole food group was worth mentioning. Omega-3s—or the fatty acids found in fish like salmon and tuna—react with leptin, a hormone that influences your metabolic processes, usually causing your digestive system to speed up. In fact, ingesting particular types of cold-water fish can increase the number of calories burned by about 400 per day (wow). Side note: If you don’t like fish, you can also take omega-3s in pill form.
TAKE PROBIOTICS (AND PREBIOTICS)
You’re likely familiar with probiotics like Symprove that are live cultures of good-for-you bacteria (prebiotics are what probiotics eat). Essentially, you want your gut to contain probiotics because they keep the bad bacteria out—and you need to take these supplements daily since they don’t stay in the body for long. “Probiotics and prebiotics contribute to regularity, meaning normal bowel movements on a regular basis,” says Jo Ann Hattner, MPH, RD. “As everyone knows, if you aren’t regular, you don’t feel good.”
CATCH SOME Z'S
Not getting enough sleep can affect everything—including your metabolism and how it functions. “Make it a priority to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night in order to keep hormone levels in check, including cortisol, which leads the body to store more fat,” says Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS. When you don’t get enough sleep, your cortisol levels spike, sometimes result in weight gain and insulin resistance, among other pesky conditions.
By lifting weights, you’re increasing your body’s muscle mass. To put the benefits in perspective, the average 30-year-old woman who does strength training at least 30 minutes two times a week for four months will increase her resting metabolic rate by 100 calories a day. Basically, you’re resetting your thermostat to keep running at that rate even on the days you can’t (or don’t want to) make it to the gym, says Gary Hunter, PhD, a professor of human studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.