For all the different things that we're told can slow down our metabolism, there seem to be countless more pointers on how to rev it back up. (Eat spicy food! Try interval training! Balance your hormones!) Some of these tips (including the ones mentioned above) are backed by science; others are a bit more anecdotal. But the vast majority of them require some semblance of effort, whether it's selecting the right kinds of food or working out in a certain way.
What if it didn't have to be so complicated? According to research, boosting your metabolism can be as simple as rethinking the way you chew your food. Studies show that eating your food really slowly can actually help you burn up to 10 extra calories per meal—which could amount to up to 2000 extra calories per month. And believe it or not, this practice actually has roots that go back thousands of years.
The Case for Mindful Chewing
In Ayurveda—the centuries-old, holistic-minded school of medicine based out of India—chewing slowly and thoroughly is crucial for optimal digestion, and optimal digestion is crucial for overall health. And while most modern scientists agree that the way you chew your food doesn't have an impact on how well its nutrients are absorbed, there is something to be said for its connection to mindful eating. By eating slowly and deliberately, you're able to better monitor the experience as well as your feelings of fullness—and that's why people who eat slowly tend to gain less weight and consume fewer calories than fast eaters.
Now for the obvious question: How slow is slow enough? It'll take your brain about 20 minutes to register how full it is, so try to stretch out your meal for at least that long. A 2011 study also showed that participants who chewed each bite 40 times lost 12% more fat than those who chewed 15 times, so aim high.
Want to rev it up even more? Check out more sneaky ways to get your metabolism going.