We all remember the children’s story the Tortoise & The Hare? The tortoise challenges the hare to a race; the hare, known for his speed, complacently takes a nap during the race, only to lose to the tortoise who, albeit was slow, never stopped. The lesson was “Slow and steady wins the race.” This idea may be applied to weight loss and maintaining a fast metabolism. Today I am going to cover some easy ways to speed up your metabolism throughout the day. Little things that you can do to keep you burning glucose and fat throughout the day. None of the following are grueling exercise routines, just simple biohacks to speed up your metabolism. Some may be a little peculiar…but they are perfectly executable if you don’t care about other people’s opinions. I’ll even try to put them in order.
Take a morning walk
Nothing is as refreshing as taking a nice, relaxing 15-20 minute walk at the crack of dawn. The sun is awakening, the birds are a-chirping, and the dew is a-dewing. All seriously, a moderately-brisk walk gets blood pumping through your muscles and organs (in particular to your brain). Studies show that people who take morning walks perform better cognitively through the day in addition to the cardiovascular benefits. Put on some relaxing music or listen to a podcast (Hint…Hint…). Or listen to the sounds of nature as you ruminate over existential topics like “What is the meaning of life?” or simply “How am I going to execute my activities today to reach its optimal expression?” (Do people talk like that?)
- You don’t necessarily need to run in the mornings (though a moderate one is fine) to speed up your metabolism.
- Don’t sacrifice sleep for the walk. Don’t be waking up at 5:00 just to sneak in the walk.
- If you can’t do the walk around your neighborhood because you are afraid you’ll get stuck in rush hour traffic, then get to work and take the walk there.
Drink lemon water
After your walk, warm up a nice kettle of warm lemon water. Lemon water has been used by Indians for centuries to detoxify the liver. Today it is unfortunately needed to prepare the liver for the “crap” food we are going to eat all day). Ingesting lemon water also has the ancillary effect of speeding up your metabolism.
- Drink it 30 minutes before breakfast (if you eat breakfast). If not just drink it when you awaken.
- Ideally drink it warm, but ice cold is fine.
- Drink a glass right before bed as well.
Sit as little as possible at work
“Sitting is the new smoking.” Studies are being cranked out as fast as social media tweets about the Kardashians showing the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Since most people do a lot of sitting when at home, try to correct that behavior especially at work. Now most of you don’t work at a place that boasts walking treadmills or standing upright desks so try these simple measures to speed up your metabolism.
At the least:
- Stand up ever 15 minutes. Just stand up.
- Take a walk around the office every hour. Just a five minute “bathroom break.” Preferably outdoors to keep your Circadian rhythm aligned.
- Try to have standing meetings. Who says we have to have meetings sitting?
- Walk up your stairwell every hour or so.
- Every couple of hours drop to the ground and do a set of push-ups (modified if need be), planks, or even old-school jumping jacks.
- When sitting, do isometric exercises like clenching your buttocks, sitting crunches, and lifting and rotating your ankles.
- At lunch, use 15 minutes of it to eat; use the rest to take a walk outside. Convince your lunch group to do it as well. If they say “No,” do what Jesus says and “shake the dust off your sandals” and let them stew. Enjoy some relaxing music or listen to a podcast (Hint..Hint..)
- If you work at home or are the owner of your business, seriously consider purchasing a walking treadmill desk. Check this one out!
Do some deep breathing exercises
Studies came out in the 1990s demonstrating how doing deep breathing exercises speeds up the metabolism. Just think about the mechanism behind it. Increased oxygen intake will increase oxygen delivery to the cells thus optimizing cellular metabolism.
At least twice a day:
- Stand up, take in a deep breath and try to hold it for at least 45 second. Do 10 of these.
Drink coffee or “colored” teas…a lot of it!
Most people know that caffeine is a stimulant and appetite-suppressant. I have written on both coffee and tea quite a bit about their superfood qualities. (Read our article on 5 morning biohacks and 4 superfoods you should be eating right now.) One of the benefits of black coffee and white, green, and black teas is that they speed up your metabolism largely due to a super-antioxidant in them called ECGC. ECGC also has the nice ancillary benefit of melting away fat, so by all means indulge in the colored teas.
- If you are sensitive to caffeine, don’t drink it after 3:00 pm. It takes about 12 hours for it to be metabolized by the body.
- Ideally drink your coffee black and your tea unflavored. Both organic. Drink 3-4 cups of tea a day.
Take a evening walk
Same mindset as the morning walk. Studies show that people who take evening walks sleep better. It gives you a moment of quiescence where you can review the day and start formulating your plans for tomorrow. 15-20 minutes is fine.
- A double-biohack is if it cold outside, walk with less apparel. The body, when cold, will ratchet up the metabolism to keep your body warm. This little biohack results in burning more calories. The same principle is behind cryotherapy and cold showers. (Read our article on cryotherapy.)
- Listen to quiet relaxing Norah Jones-esque music or a relaxing, funny podcast. (Hint..Hint..) Don’t go to “sleepy land” thinking about savage attacks in Syria.
Shorten your eating window
Fast! Fast! Fast! I don’t mean you should eat your food in a rapid manner. Rather, keep your body in a fasting state as long as possible. I’ll be direct: Intermittent fasting is the easiest & most-effective way to not only speed up your metabolism but to lose weight. If you can combine all the other biohacks while in a fasting state, it is akin to adding whipcream, nuts, and a cherry on top of the metabolism “biohacking sundae.” (Please read our two-part series on Intermittent Fasting.) To be succinct, fasting forces the body to convert the fat reserves in your body to glucose to be used by the organs as fuel. As such, your fat will melt away.
- Try a Noon-8:00pm eating window.
- Consume the normal amount of calories you regularly do…but just in a shorter window. Eat clean and avoid toxins of course.
- Try shortening your window to 5-6 hours and occasionally incorporate a 24-hour fast.
Aside from these, there are the obvious biohacks that speed up your metabolism and/or keep your weight down.
- 7-9 hours of sleep (Read our article on simple biohacks to resolve insomnia.)
- High Vitamin D levels in body (gets lots of sun or supplement with a Vitamin D pill)
- Stay hydrated
The key is to shock the body to keep it pumping blood mixed in with beverages that keep your metabolism percolating. I can honestly say these biohacks have been inestimable in my weight maintenance, for I have been incorporating them into my daily routine since the 1990s. If you can throw in a strength straining, low heart rate cardio, or sprinting workout in a given day it only sweetens the pot. (Read our article on ideal exercise routine.) Just be careful not to overeat after a workout. This is very common either because dehydration masquerades as hunger pangs or because psychologically you subconsciously think you can splurge a little since you worked out.
Remember, weight loss and weight maintenance are 70% diet, 20% exercise, 10% biohacking. Vis-à-vis exercise, it is all about keeping the body moving and occasionally shocking it with sprints, ice showers, and lifting. Until next time…
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A. Gregory Luna