It may not feel like it, but the long hibernation of this season is almost over. Studies show that we all eat more during the winter months as a primitive way to prepare for colder temperatures. With impending warmer temps and spring days, now is the perfect time to ease out of your bear cave and get back into the habit of revving up your metabolism.
Many of us believe that boosting our metabolism takes a lot of effort and time, making it feel impossible. On the contrary, these tricks to kick-start your healthy living routine are pretty darn simple. Try out one or two, and you’ll be raring to go come spring.
Warm Up Your Breakfast
If cold cereal seems less than inspiring on chilly mornings, start your day with a steamy bowl of oatmeal topped with flaxseed instead, recommends Erin Palinski, RD. Eating breakfast, in general, has been shown to boost your metabolism by as much as 10 percent, and oatmeal, in particular, can rev calorie-burning capabilities. One cup of oatmeal contains 13 to 16 percent of your daily recommended intake of fiber, and your body burns up to 30 percent more calories digesting fiber than it does other nutrients because roughage takes such a long time to break down.
Stay in Bed
Take advantage of your natural impulse to stay under the covers when it’s cold out: Too little sleep can mess up your metabolism, and about 60 percent of us don’t get enough shut-eye anyway. Researchers from the University of Chicago found that even short-term sleep deprivation can make healthy people process sugar as if they were diabetic. Subjects who were restricted to four hours of sleep a night metabolized glucose 40 percent slower than when they got 8 hours of sleep, but the effects were reversed after they rested up.
Make Cross-Training More Fun
Sometimes the hardest thing is to stick to your workout routine during the winter, and one of the most important things to keep your metabolism revving is consistent activity. To fight off winter sloth, take advantage of seasonal activities. “Try dropping one gym workout a week and add a winter sport — ice skating, snowshoeing or skiing. It’s great to mix it up and you’ll get back to the gym with a real spring in your step!” says Gunnar Peterson, a celebrity trainer and spokesperson for Under Armour.
Drink Up to Fight Dryness
Sure, it’s easy to remember to rehydrate when you’re sweating buckets, but it’s equally important — if not more — to get your eight cups of water a day in winter because the dry air can increase your likelihood of dehydration, says Jim White, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach, Va. Being mildly dehydrated can slow your metabolism by 2 to 3 percent, according to researchers from the University of Utah. Why? Experts speculate that the rate at which your cells metabolize fat has to do with their size, and when they shrink from dehydration they become less efficient.
Hold Off On the Booze
Keep in mind that alcohol not only adds calories to your diet but also slows down your body’s fat-burning capabilities. An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found that drinking can slow your metabolism by as much as 73 percent. “Plus, most people don’t make the best decisions about food when drinking and tend to skip their workout the next day,” says White, who advises sticking to a “two-glass class” rule.
Loaded with metabolism-boosting fiber, hearty rye bread might be better to eat than wheat when it comes to losing weight. Swedish researchers found that people who had rye bread for breakfast were less hungry later in the day than those who ate wheat bread. While fiber fills you up without weighing you down, researchers believe that part of the satiety of rye bread might be more mental than physical. The darker the bread, the fuller people expect to feel.
Dig into Potatoes, Grains and Beans
Eating a diet rich in resistant starch — a type of dietary fiber found in many carbohydrate-rich foods such as potatoes, grains and beans — can help rev fat burning and reduce overall hunger. Your body doesn’t digest or absorb this supernutrient, so it does not contribute to body fat. Instead, it’s fermented when it reaches the large intestine, which creates beneficial fatty acids that block the body’s ability to burn carbohydrates. One study found that replacing just 5.4 percent of total carbohydrate intake with resistant starch created a 20 to 30 percent increase in fat burning after a meal. Just be sure to avoid fatty extras like butter and cheese when preparing and watch your portions.