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How Much Can You Really Increase Your Metabolism?
Drink green tea. Build more muscle. Eat chili peppers. The list of ways you can increase your metabolic rate are endless.
But when it comes to reaching your weight-loss goals, how much of a difference do those tactics really make? Not as much as any weight-loss warrior would like, says Tim Church, M.D., M.P.H, Ph.D., professor of preventative medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University.
That's because your metabolism largely comes down to two factors: your genetics and your size. If your mom and dad had slow metabolisms, you probably will, too. There's not much you can do to change that, says Church.
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Meanwhile, the larger you are, the faster your metabolism actually is. "Someone who is morbidly obese burns an enormous amount of calories every day," says Church. On the flip side, the smaller you are, the slower your metabolism is. After all, it takes less fuel (i.e., calories) to run a tiny person than it does to run a large person. It's a cruel twist for any woman trying to lose weight and get in shape.
Still, while you can't exchange your metabolism for that of a much luckier woman, a few calories here and a few calories there do add up. For instance, research shows that drinking two to four cups of green tea per day may raise your metabolism by 50 calories per day. That's a lot of tea and not a ton of calories, but, hey, that equals a good five pounds lost in a single year.
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Meanwhile, in study published inThe American Journal of Clinical, people who consumed capsinoids (compounds in chili peppers) every day for 12 weeks didn't enjoy a significant increase in resting metabolism, but their rates of fat oxidation and their levels of belly fat did decrease. And according to research from the University of Utah, for every three percent of your body weight in water you lose (for example, if you weigh 140 pounds and lose 4.2 pounds of water weight), your resting metabolism drops by two percent. Again, not huge, but it makes a difference over the long term.
What's more, exercise, or more specifically, strength training, can help support a healthy metabolism. After all, pound per pound, muscle burns more calories than fat. However, the difference might not be as big as you think: four calories, to be precise. A pound of fat burns two calories per day, and a pound of fat burns six. To put that into perspective, losing two pounds of fat and replacing it with two pounds of muscle will increase your resting metabolic rate by only eight calories per day.
RELATED:11 Easy Things You Can Do TODAY to Jumpstart Your Weight-Loss Journey
However, the biggest calorie-burning benefit of exercise isn't muscle—it's getting moving. "The key to burning more calories is always going to be more active," says Church. "In the end, weight loss comes down to pure hard work.
Video: 10 Exercises to Become Taller In One Week
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