17 Cheap Ways to Jumpstart Your Metabolism

August 25, 2010
1. Fidget. Tap your foot, twirl a pen, chew sugar-free gum while at your desk. Fidgeting uses energy, and while you won't be shedding inches instantly, the mini-aerobics on a daily basis adds up - highly fidgety people may burn up to 500 calories more in a day.

2. Stay properly hydrated. Studies have shown that when we are dehydrated, our systems slow down. That includes our metabolism. Aim for at least 8 cups of water a day. An easy way to keep track is to get a 32-oz (4 cups) water bottle, and drink two full bottles a day. If water is too boring for you, there are several natural ways to make water more flavorful.

3. Avoid diet soda. Water is king when it comes to hydration, but many people find it boring and look for alternatives like diet soda. But just because it has 0 calories doesn't mean it's as good as water. The problem is that the chemical sweeteners used in diet sodas can increase food and fat cravings, which can make sticking to a structured diet and seeing results much harder.

4. Drink cold drinks. Research subjects' metabolisms increased by a third in the 30-40 minutes after drinking a glass of water. The metabolic rate increase is due to your body warming up the liquid.

5. Spice up your meals. Spicy foods speed up the metabolic process by 20 percent or more for up to half an hour after eating them. Adding a dash of red pepper flakes to stews, pasta sauces, and other dishes is an easy way to turn up the heat and increase the burn.

6. Eat a balanced diet that includes "negative calorie" foods. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables fill you up and take effort for the body to break down. Some vegetables (like celery) and other complex carbohydrates (like high fiber foods) even require more calories to break them down than they contain, making them "negative calorie" foods.

7. Eat more protein. Studies have shown that the body uses twice the energy to break down foods containing protein as it does food that has a high carbohydrate or fat content. (See also: 10 Things to Do With Bargain Beef.)

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