Can You Change Your Metabolism?

| Women's Health

This question is all-around tricky because your metabolism is a bit like a cat: It's often lazy, unpredictable, and works completely on its own schedule, not yours! Sure, there are many ways to boost your metabolism, but that is typically a temporary solution to a more permanent problem. Your basal metabolic rate — or the rate at which your body uses energy — is absolutely key in weight loss, so if you're stuck with with a metabolism that is unmotivated to burn through those unwanted pounds, there are a couple tricks out there that may help you out. Keep in mind, though, that changing your basal metabolic rate does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of dedication and effort to make even the smallest long-term difference, so be prepared to stick with these recommendations for the best results!

Woman lifting weights

Exercise is essential. You cannot, and we mean CANNOT, change your metabolism without exercising. And we're not talking about going on a leisurely stroll once or twice a week; we're talking serious, get-your-butt-in-shape exercise. Muscle production speeds up metabolism, and as your body works to produce that muscle, it utilizes more energy. Your body then processes food more quickly in order to fuel your muscles, which typically results in weight loss (or at the very least weight maintenance). Try to work out out least three times a week, and combine elements of cardio and weight lifting into your routine in order to promote muscle growth.

Don't skimp on food. Your metabolism needs food in order to fuel your muscles, so make sure you are eating at least every three to four hours throughout the day. An inconsistent eating schedule, or consuming less than 2,500 calories a day when you're active, actually signals your body to burn through food more slowly and conserve fat. Your body essentially goes into preservation mode. Try to insert foods that are especially high in protein into your diet, since your body burns more calories digesting protein than carbohydrates or fats. If eating three to four full meals a day just seems like too much for you, try supplementing your regular meals with small nutritious snacks throughout the day to keep your metabolism churning away.

>> Read more: Boost Your Weight Loss with These 13 Snacks

Keep yourself hydrated. We all know the importance of drinking lots of water every day, but what you might not know is that staying fully hydrated can help your metabolism, too. Even if you're only mildly dehydrated, your metabolism slows down. According to one study, adults who consumed 64 fluid ounces or more of water every day burned through more calories than those who only drank 32 fluid ounces.

woman running outside in winter

Play it cool. Hanging out in places with cooler temperatures will actually help get your metabolism working. Your metabolism increases to keep your body warm when you're outside, or in a place that keeps the heat fairly low. Now, we're not saying shut off the heat in the winter and grin and bear it — but if you can try to adjust the heat down a little, even a slight change might make a difference. Also, moving your workouts outside will force your metabolism into gear, and will actually help you burn more calories!

Be patient. Just like most things in life, you can't expect change to occur in the blink of an eye. Getting your metabolism into shape takes just as long as reaching workout goals. It generally takes at least three months for your metabolism to start adjusting, so patience is absolutely key to this process. The good news is that instigating these changes in your life will go a long way in promoting some really healthy habits. You are going to start looking and feeling better long before your metabolism starts to change, which will help to reinforce your good behavior!

It is crucial that you remember that certain elements can affect your metabolic rate. Your age, gender and genetics are going to be added challenges during this process, so be prepared to fight hard to change your metabolism. Just remember the silver lining to it all: Changing your metabolic rate will work wonders on your fitness goals, self-esteem, and overall health.