If you’re reading this, you’re probably seeking the quickest, most efficient ways to boost your metabolism before the summer solstice creeps in. After all, sundress season is just mere weeks away and most of us could benefit from shedding a few pounds.
That’s why we’ve compiled the best science-backed nutrition tips to help you hack your fat-burning furnace before the days grow longer. From easy food swaps to simple lifestyle habits, adopting the savvy tips below could be the key to keep you burning maximum calories and melting fat away—every day.
Once you’ve jotted down the tips below, don’t forget to stock up on these 30 Slimming Summer Foods to get your body vaca-ready in no time. And if you want healthy recipes, supermarket shopping guides, and essential nutrition tips at your fingertips, subscribe to the new Eat This, Not That! magazine now! For a limited time, you can save 50 percent off the cover price—click here!
Pack Your Diet With Protein
The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn throughout your day—even while reading this! While hitting the weight rack is a sure-fire way to make those gains, incorporating enough protein in your diet will help you maintain muscle. New York-based dietician Leah Kaufman, MS, RD, CDN recommends eating 0.8 to one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight daily to fuel weight loss. So if you weigh 130 pounds, aim to get a range of 46 to 58 grams of protein each day, ideally via these 29 Best-Ever Proteins for Weight Loss.
Wake Up to Water
Start stoking your metabolism bright and early by reaching for two tall glasses of water upon waking up. A study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that participants who drank about 17 ounces of water experienced a 30-percent increase in their metabolic. What’s more, the researchers extrapolate that drinking approximately six cups of H2O a day can help you expend an extra 17,400 calories over the course of the year. That’s the equivalent of a five-pound weight loss! Not too shabby.
Try Intermittent Fasting
You’ve heard all the buzz surrounding this popular diet trend, but are its claims credible enough for you to give it a shot? A Brazilian study found that intermittent fasting (IF) had a positive effect on the metabolism and heart—and resulted in weight loss as well as a reduction of fat tissue mass, blood pressure, and heart rate, and improvements in both HDL and LDL cholesterol levels. Researchers also found that IF helped increase the expression of a specific gene that’s responsible for the regulation of food intake and fat metabolism. In addition to saying sayonara to the spare tire and improving your ticker’s health, did you know this diet trick actually makes you live longer?
Don’t Toss the Yolk
Sure, Fido enjoys lapping up a fried yolk after you’ve whipped up an egg-white omelet for yourself, but avoiding the darker part of the protein isn’t doing any wonders for your waistline. Contrary to popular belief, the cholesterol in egg yolks don’t have a negative impact on your blood cholesterol levels—in fact, Wake Forest University researchers found no link between egg consumption and heart disease. Plus, the yolk is packed with metabolism-revving nutrients such as protein, healthy fats, fat-soluble vitamins, and choline, a compound that attacks the gene mechanism that triggers your body to store fat around your liver. And for those looking to shed weight before hitting the beach, get this: A study by Saint Louis researchers found that eating eggs for breakfast could decrease your calorie intake for the rest of the day.
Add Black Beans to Your Omelet
Anyone craving some huevos rancheros? A study in the journal Nutrients found that adding black beans to your diet can help manage post-meal metabolic responses, delaying of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in adults with metabolic syndrome. Add the superfood to a fat-burning omelet, and you’ve got yourself a seriously metabolism-stoking breakfast.
Reserve Carbs for After Hours
That may sound like it contradicts every diet rule in the book, but trust us when we advise you to reserve your carbs for the p.m. One Israeli study found that participants who ate most of their carbs at night lost more weight and saw smaller waist circumferences than the group that spread the same amount of carbs throughout the day. And another study published in the European Journal of Nutrition saw similar results: the nighttime carb group showed higher thermogenesis (meaning they burned more calories) after their meals.
Shuck Some Oysters
Those slimy shellfish you’ve grown to love at happy hours are one of the best dietary sources of thyroid-protecting zinc, a mineral that helps your metabolism hum. A study in the Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin found that supplementing obese people’s diets with 30 milligrams of zinc daily—the equivalent of just six raw oysters—helped them lose weight and improve their blood cholesterol levels.
Eat a Brazil Nut Daily
Seriously, you only need one. “I often recommend Brazil nuts because of their high selenium content,” Monica Auslander, MS, RD, LD/N, founder of Essence Nutrition tells us in 20 Ways to Reboot Your Thyroid. Just a single nut packs in your daily recommended amount of selenium. “Many folks with thyroid issues are deficient in this crucial antioxidant, and Brazil nuts are a potent source of selenium, not to mention extremely delicious and high in fiber, calcium, protein, and magnesium. Selenium helps convert thyroxine to its active hormone form, T3. Brazil nuts are rather large … they have a mild flavor and pair well with berries.”
Craving your favorite dish from the Italian restaurant down the block? Thinking about ordering the eggs benedict with a side of fries at brunch? Go for it—science says that taking a break from your diet can accelerate fat burn by increasing your metabolism. But keep your cheat meal scheduled. “By planning your cheat meal, you know what you’ll be eating and can cut a few extra calories earlier in the day,” says Jim White, RD, ACSM Health Fitness Specialist and owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios. “This also allows you to really pick a favorite food instead of wasting calories on something you didn’t enjoy.”
Kick Up the Heat
“Science has proven that several meal additions such as peppers, paprika, chili (which all contain the chemical capsaicin), garlic (which supports blood-sugar metabolism, fights inflammation, and lowers blood pressure), and even mustard can help you boost your metabolism in small but truly meaningful ways,” according to The Super Metabolism Diet, our two-week plan proven to ignite your fat-burning furnace and help you stay lean for life. “When you eat these spicy and strong-tasting foods—what any foodie would describe as ‘better tasting’—you’re giving your metabolism an added kick.”
Eliminate Refined Carbs
We all know that when you’re looking to lose some weight, you should avoid bakery muffins and swap white bread for whole-grain in your sandwich. But why are these refined carbs—that we go out of our way to avoid—so detrimental to our diets? Sugar causes your blood glucose to spike and plummet, switching your hunger on. What’s more, if your body doesn’t burn off all the sugar you consume, it turns into fat, which doesn’t burn fat and boost your metabolism like lean muscle does.
Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand
“Always be prepared for a busy or unpredictable day by keeping healthy snacks on you, at your desk, in your car,” says nutritionist Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, adding that unsalted nuts, apples, bananas, chia bars, and protein bars are all great choices. “You’ll have no reason to run to the vending machine for chips or stick your hand in the candy bowl,” she tells us in 55 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.
Stick to Unsweetened Beverages
And we’re not talking about diet sodas! A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that frequently sipping on carb-sweetened beverages could increase postprandial (or post-meal) insulin response, leading to a reduction in lipolysis (or fat breakdown) and fat oxidation. If you’re craving a little fizz or flavor with your meal, opt for one of our 12 Sodas That are Actually Healthy.
Kick Artificial Sweeteners to the Curb
Wait, so since that can of Coke Zero Sugar contains no trace of the sweet stuff, wouldn’t choosing it over the regular can be a better bet? Not quite. Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio found that those who consumed artificially-sweetened beverages were way more likely to gain weight or become obese compared to those who didn’t imbibe. If you simply can’t guzzle down your coffee without spiking it with three packets of Splenda first, consider switching to one packet of real sugar and then weaning yourself off. Your metabolism will thank you.
Add Green Tea to Your Diet
Whether you’re sipping on it before breakfast or boiling rice in it (a must-try!), making green tea your everyday go-to will give your metabolism the jumpstart it needs. In fact, matcha powder has 3 to 137 times more EGCG—the fat-burning antioxidant found in the brew that’s associated with a speedier metabolism—than green tea. Add the Hulk-hued powder to shakes, oatmeal, and protein pancakes to boost your breakfast’s antioxidant powers.
Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Iron
An iron deficiency can cause unusual symptoms such as tiredness, brittle nails, and a slow metabolism. Keep your fat-burning furnace at full speed by adding more natural sources of the mineral into your diet. Dietary iron can be found in two forms: heme (which is found in animal sources such as red meats, fish, and chicken) and nonheme (which is derived from plants such as spinach and lentils). According to WebMD, meat, poultry, and seafood contain both heme and nonheme iron, while animal sources are more easily absorbed by the body.
Plan a Coffee Date
Who would’ve thought that your expensive Starbucks addiction may be contributing to a whittled waistline? According to a study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, the average metabolic rate of people who drank caffeinated coffee was 16 percent higher than that of those who drank decaf. However, your order dictates how effective your java can be. Swapping the creamer, hazelnut syrup, and sugar packets for a shake of cinnamon and nutmeg can flavor your cup without contributing calories.
Pack in Probiotics
Dig into yogurt for breakfast, add kimchi to your salads, and toss sauerkraut into your protein bowls. Researchers at Imperial College London found a link between eating probiotic-rich foods and metabolic changes including weight loss and decreased fat absorption.
Keep Calories Over 1,200
Experts recommend eating no less than 1,200 calories per day in order to avoid a dip in metabolism. “In an attempt for quick, noticeable weight loss, many people wrongfully believe that eating as few calories as possible is the best solution,” Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN tells us. “Not only can this lead to numerous nutritional deficiencies as the body is getting less food overall, it can actually have the opposite effect on weight loss.”
Add Quinoa to Your Cart
Instead of pairing your dinner protein with rice or starchy potatoes, try whipping up a pot of quinoa. This nutritional superstar is higher in protein than any other grain and is a wonderful source of satiating fiber as well as metabolism-spiking nutrients such as B vitamins and iron. What’s more, this gluten-free grain is ideal for those who suffer from celiac disease or for vegans searching for a complete protein (this super carb contains all nine essential amino acids—which help build metabolism-revving muscle!).
Snack on Nuts
No matter which you choose, nuts contain heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats, which have been shown to reduce fat storage and improve insulin metabolism. A study printed in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders found that participants who ate more of their calories from almonds lost more weight than the group that abstained. Walnuts are the prime source of PUFAs like omega-3s, yet all nuts are rich in healthy fats that can help you beat the bulge.
Switch Up Your Salad Dressing
We know (and hope!) you’re not pouring fatty ranch dressing all over those leafy greens, but if you’re in need of a new dressing, the last thing you should do is turn to the bottled stuff. Extra virgin olive oil is jam-packed with disease-fighting polyphenols and healthy fats that help give your tired metabolism a wake-up call. Pair the oil with apple cider vinegar—which has been linked to decreased BMI, visceral fat, and waist circumference—and you’ve got yourself a tasty and effortless elixir that can rev your metabolism as well as it can jazz up your greens.
Try Goji Tea
Sure, you strategically top the tart berries over your smoothie bowl and add them to your oats, but have you tried them steeped? According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, people who consumed a dose of Lycium barbarum—the plant from which goji berries are harvested—burned calories at a rate 10 percent higher than the placebo group, and the effects lasted up to four hours.
Get Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D may be abundant when the sun’s out, but it’s important to ensure you’re getting enough of it during the chillier months. The sunshine vitamin is essential for preserving metabolism-revving muscle tissue lean. To naturally increase your intake, make sure you’re digging into fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel. Tuna, fortified milk and cereal, and eggs are also great sources.
Sprinkle Chia and Flax Seeds
You’ve noticed them scribbled on the menu of your favorite smoothie shop and advertised in your local market’s weekly circular, so why haven’t you stocked your pantry with the stuff? Chia and flax seeds contain an essential omega-3 fatty acid, ALA, which can help you drop pounds by reducing inflammation. A review in the journal Nutrients found that omega-3s can enhance fat burning and decrease hunger levels. Not yet convinced? Consider this: A report published in Nutrition in Clinical Practice found that packing your diet with this healthy fat can improve your ability to metabolize fat by altering the way certain fat genes function. If you’re using flax seeds, make sure to grind them immediately before use, since the whole seeds pass through your body undigested, depriving you of their powerful benefits.
“Barley contains a whopping six grams of belly-filling fiber, mostly soluble fiber that has been linked to lowered cholesterol, decreased blood sugar, and increased satiety,” Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN tells us in The Super Metabolism Diet. Try cooking barley with paprika and turmeric and add to salads for added texture.
Go For Tryptophan-Rich Foods
Foods such as turkey meat, full-fat milk, eggs, cheese, and poultry can help you get a better night’s rest because they contain loads of tryptophan, an amino acid turns into niacin—a B vitamin that helps create sleep-inducing serotonin as well as melatonin, a hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycles, according to The National Sleep Foundation. Getting sufficient shut-eye (between seven to nine hours a night) is essential for your metabolism because it decreases levels of your hunger hormones and the fat-storing stress hormone cortisol.
Choose Sprouted Bread Every Time
Sprouting grains and seeds increases their nutrient bioavailability, making it easier for your body to absorb all the metabolism-lifting vitamins and minerals, including muscle-building amino acids. So no, you don’t have to give up bread in your quest to look beach-ready—just choose the right loaf. These 15 Reasons People Are Obsessed With Ezekiel Bread will help you decode how sprouted bread can help you finally shed the weight.
Cut Down on Booze
Since the body recognizes alcohol as a toxin, the liver works to metabolize it first. What does that mean for your waistline? Your body will prioritize breaking down that frozen marg you gulped during happy hour before it does the avocado toast. Keep your metabolism humming by limiting yourself to two drinks and sipping a glass of water in between each drink.
Stock Up on Anti-Inflammatory Foods
A diet rich in fiber from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is a sure-fire way to fire up your metabolism. Dr. Barry Sears, president of the non-profit Inflammation Research Foundation, tells us, “Harvard Medical School demonstrated [years ago] that one anti-inflammatory meal stabilized blood sugar levels and the two anti-inflammatory meals back-to-back decrease calorie intake by 46 percent.” Squelch cravings and rev your metabolism with the help of these 30 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods.