Did you know that you’re burning calories as you read this post? In fact, your body burns calories even when you’re not moving a single muscle. Every single thing you do—from breathing to eating to sleeping—uses energy. The number of calories it would take just to lie in bed all day is called your resting metabolic rate, which is unique to every person.
Although you can’t exchange your genetics or turn back the clock, there’s still plenty you can do to be a fast calorie burner. All you need to do is remember these four metabolism truths:
1. Cardio charges your metabolism for hours afterward. A pound of muscle at rest does burn three times as many calories as a pound of fat, but that doesn’t mean you should only focus on weight training if you want to blast calories. Cardio is every bit as crucial for keeping your metabolism cranked up. Do just two to three vigorous bouts of exercise per week for 45 minutes, and you could lose a pound of fat every two weeks from the combination of calories expended during exercise plus what you burn afterward.
Pro-tip: Any sweat-inducing activity you can sustain for 45 minutes will do the trick.
2. Beauty rest is the new calorie-burning boost. Though contrary to expectations, more sleep makes for a quicker metabolism. In fact, a single sleepless night reduces your resting metabolic rate by about 5% several hours into the next day, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. So put away the laptop, and be sure you aim to give yourself nine hours of sleep each night.
3. Age doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy metabolism.Sure, it’s hardly a myth that women tend to gain weight after the age of 40. But according to a new study in Cell Metabolism, estrogen levels may be the cause. Less estrogen, it turns out, equals a sluggish metabolism—you burn 50 fewer calories a day. Compensate by hitting the weight room three times a week. In 12 weeks, you’ll add enough muscle mass to burn an extra 45 calories per day.
4. Timing is everything when it comes to blasting calories. Drops in blood sugar can make your metabolism stall during the day. That’s because the primary food for your brain is blood sugar, and when you let it drop, your brain has to set up defenses to sustain its fuel. In other words, low blood sugar leaves you with less muscle, which makes your metabolism sluggish. To keep your blood-sugar levels even throughout the day, eat smaller meals with 100- to 200-calorie snacks in between.
What are some ways you keep your metabolism fired up? Share your tips in the comments section below!