Exercise and dietary "quick fixes" might seem enticing, but in the long-run, they could wreak havoc with your metabolism. Lyn-Genet Recitas, nutritionist and author of The Metabolism Plan ($12), tells MindBodyGreen that there's a lot of misinformation about how to truly boost your metabolism and prepare your body for real, lasting weight loss.
"It works some of the time, or the results are only temporary, and it never gets the full results you deserve," she explains of diet and fitness fads that promise instant results. Instead, she urges her clients to "unlearn everything you have always been told to be true about how to get in shape" and embrace three lifestyle changes that have long-lasting effects. We also reached out to two other top nutritionists to share how to boost metabolism quickly, safely, and effectively.
Drink 5 Pints of Water
According to Recitas, most people are dehydrated. "You need to drink half your body weight in ounces," she says. "The easiest way to stay hydrated is to simply drink five pints: Drink a pint when you get up, another at 11 a.m., one at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 5 p.m., and you are done for the day."
Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
If you ever feel bloated or gassy after a meal, your body is trying to send you a message. "Skip the calorie counting, and instead eat the foods that make you feel good," she says. Recitas recommends anti-inflammatory foods, which are essential for a functioning metabolism. "Inflammatory foods raise cortisol levels and cause hormonal imbalance and rampant yeast growth, which disrupts thyroid function, your master gland for your metabolism." Tomatoes, spinach, almonds, and strawberries are all anti-inflammatory.
"Exercising too intensely can affect hormones that slow your thyroid function like cortisol, estrogen, and testosterone," explains Recitas. "These skewed hormones affect your thyroid, the master gland of your metabolism."
"Eat within a few hours of waking up," suggests Farah Fahad of The Farah Effect. "It doesn't have to be big. It can be something as simple as one hard-boiled egg. Not eating earlier in the day will cause blood sugar levels to crash and have you eating more later in the day."
Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods
“These foods will allow you to burn more calories during activities throughout the day," explains Paula Simpson, RNCP, co-founder of Zea Skin Solutions. "For example, iodine plays an essential role in metabolism by regulating the natural synthesis of thyroid hormones, which are involved in our metabolic rate. Sea vegetables (like seaweed and kelp) are full of essential nutrients and trace elements to feed a healthy metabolism." In addition, she says, are "cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika, jalapeños, habaneros, and other spices with capsaicin."
Eat More Protein
"Our metabolism is dependent on enzymes that facilitate chemical reactions in our bodies, and these enzymes are made of proteins. Studies have shown that increasing protein also increases muscle mass, contributing to a higher metabolism. Protein doesn't have to mean steak; it can be added to one's diet through foods like lentils, nuts, and eggs," says Fahad.
Consume Less Artificial Sweeteners and Refined Sugars
"Artificial sweeteners alter the gut microbiome, which affects metabolism. Refined sugars cause an overgrowth of bad bacteria in your gut, which can affect metabolism. Stick to raw or Manuka honey and organic maple syrup," says Fahad.