How fast your body burns calories is what is called your "metabolism." The human body always uses energy, even while at rest, through the interplay of key organs and tissues. You may have a faster metabolism and expend energy more than the next person, but after the age of 40, the rate of metabolism starts to decrease across the board. In an abstract called "Healthy Body Weights: an alternative perspective," researchers say that women have higher average body fat percentages (in order to bear children in a healthy way) in comparison to men, which could explain why men tend to burn more calories than women when at rest.
But, don't fret just yet. You can always improve your metabolism by staying active throughout the day; obviously if you tend to live on the "less active" side of things, you will burn fewer calories. And, you can always give your metabolism a good kick in the rear with the right foods! Thermogenesis, the process of producing heat through the digestion of food, uses about 10 percent of your caloric intake. So, foods that take longer to break down will make your body expend more energy.
1. Water: Start at the source of all life! Water is necessary to the metabolic process, and dehydration can really impede it. German researchers at Humboldt University assessed the impact of drinking 500 milliliters of water on energy expenditure. They found that, within 10 minutes of drinking the water, participants' metabolic rates increased by an average of 30 percent. Challenge yourself and try to a drink more water every day; the goal is eight 8-ounce glasses each day. Check out these eight easy ways to incorporate more water in your daily routine.
2. Chili peppers: If you can handle the heat, stay in the kitchen because much research has shown that spicy foods containing capsaicin increase the body's internal temperature, speeding up the metabolic process. This skinny vegetarian chili has green chilies, chili powder and red pepper flakes to really amp up the heat!
3. Green tea: Raise your resting metabolism by four percent with green tea. Studies show that green tea contains catechins, which are polyphenols that promote fat oxidation. The small amount of caffeine within green tea will give you more energy and ultimately boost your metabolism.
4. Lean proteins: By eating three to four servings (a serving of meat should be the size of your palm) of lean meat per day, you will stock your body with healthy reserves of the mineral iron. Iron is an essential mineral to metabolism, and some good sources of iron are chicken, salmon and mussels.
5. Whole grains: Organic Authority writes that whole grains contain the whole enchilada, so to speak – they contain the germ, bran and endosperm of the original grain. This means the metabolism must work harder to break their complex structures down. They're also chock-full of B vitamins and high in fiber!