How to Speed Up Your Metabolism

Everyone wants to know how to speed up your metabolism. Is this even possible, or is it just a cliche without any scientific evidence to back it up?

First, let’s start with the definition of metabolism: “the sum of the physical and chemical processes in an organism by which its material substance is produced, maintained, and destroyed, and by which energy is made available.”

Unfortunately, if you aren’t very physically active, then your metabolic rate is probably very low. The good news is there are ways to speed it up!By that definition, you can’t exactly speed up a “sum,” but, you can speed up your metabolic rate. Metabolic rate is the amount of energy expended in a given period (or how fast calories are burned). Therefore, your body is constantly working and potentially burning fat even when your butt is nestled snugly into it’s custom-made imprint on the couch.

How to Speed Up Your Metabolism (ahem, metabolic rate)

  • Start with the numbers – Yes, everyone hates “counting calories” and keeping food journals, and while it’s not absolutely necessary to get results, it can help tremendously to at least determine your personal daily caloric needs. Don’t worry, you don’t need a team of diet specialists on a conference calling service to figure out how to keep track of the proper information. In fact, it will only take a few weeks to find your sweet spot, then you can just eyeball things from then on.First, determine the ideal amount of calories you need to consume each day. There is no perfect formula that will work for every single person, but one of the simplest ways to determine a good starting point is to multiply your body weight by 11 (12 if you consider your physical activity level above average). For example, a 200 pound man would start with a diet consisting of 2200 calories (2400 if more active).Remember, this is not an exact science, and it’s up to you to make the necessary tweaks. To do so, start with the number you got from above, and follow it for at least 7 days, preferably up to 2 weeks (using the meal frequency discussed below). Based on your measurements, adjust your number accordingly, until you are getting the results you want, whether it’s losing weight or gaining muscle or both.
  • Eat more often – This tactic is finally receiving the recognition it deserves, and more people are seeing the benefits. It’s also one of the easiest changes to implement into your daily routine. The key, obviously, is to eat more often — not just eat more!Once you’ve determined your daily caloric needs from above (and while you are figuring it out), aim for 6-8 meals per day, as opposed to the traditional breakfast, lunch, and dinner.Why? When your body goes for extended periods of time without food, it starts to protect itself from starvation (a bit extreme, I know, but our paranoid bodies are just trying to do what’s best for us), and your metabolic rate slows down (not nearly as beneficial as lowering your normal resting heart rate). This is great if you really are lost on a deserted island with no food or water; otherwise, tell your body, “I know you’re trying to look out for me, but I don’t need your help right now!”

    By eating every 2-3 hours throughout the day, your body is constantly having to digest that food, break it down, send it to the right places, and all of these processes keep your metabolism running, which, over time, can speed up your metabolic rate (one of the first steps in how to get a six pack).

    Don’t forget the most important of these frequent feedings: Breakfast! Get your day started right with these seven easy breakfast recipes.

  • Surprise: Exercise! – You didn’t think you could get away with just eating a few more meals a day, did you? Exercise and diet go hand in hand, and both are absolutely essential to transforming your body.When it comes to increasing your metabolic rate — and your overall health, for that matter — a combination of cardio and strength training will produce dramatic results in the least amount of time.Most people already do cardio training to lose weight (even though their methods are usually flawed; more on that below), but few realize how important strength training is to burning fat and raising your metabolism. Let’s start with this fact: Muscle burns more calories than fat.

    This means even when you’re not doing anything, i.e. sleeping, your muscle tissue is “feeding” on calories just to keep itself alive. Muscle needs these calories to build and repair itself, while fat tissue is content with expanding and multiplying like two rabbits on ecstasy.

    In layman’s terms: One pound of muscle burns 30-50 more calories per day than one pound of fat.

    As for cardio, it can be equally effective, but not in the way you are probably used to. Running in place or mindlessly pedaling for hours on end will not do you any good. Just because you are extremely tired and are sweating more than Patrick Ewing in a championship game (rumor has it: he sweat so much that he had to get a new jersey at halftime of every game), does not mean you are doing the right thing. Remember, you don’t want to lose weight (which could include muscle and water); you want to lose fat.

    The good news is the best way to lose fat through cardio training only takes about 20 minutes per workout. The bad news: Those are 20 heart-pounding, balls-to-the-wall, shake-what-ya-momma-gave-ya minutes. It’s a little technique called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

    For a detailed explanation of exactly how to perform HIIT, click here.

  • H20, Agua, Clear Gold – No matter what you call it, drink more water! Your metabolism needs water to carry out every function in your body, and if you want to speed up your metabolic rate, you need to be drinking water like your life depended on it — because it does!Aim for at least 8-10 glasses per day, and even more if you’re reasonably active. Also, many people confuse thirst with hunger, so drinking more water may keep you from reaching for those fat-laden cupcakes too!
  • ZZZzzz… – Right up there with water, sleep is one of the most important (and most ignored) elements of a healthy lifestyle.Not getting enough sleep, or even irregular and sporadic sleep patterns, can throw your metabolism completely out of whack. Your body won’t know when to store fat, when to shut down, or when to repair itself.Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and try to develop a regular schedule, so you go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day.

Now that you know how to speed up your metabolism, fat won’t have a chance at surviving in your new and improved metabolic machine!

76 comments… add one
  • Thank you so much for this website! This information was really really helpful and very well explained!

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  • thank you much for this article…… hopefully it well work with me 😉

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  • Glad everyone is enjoying the information in this article. Be sure to come back and post your results after putting these tips to work for a few weeks.

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  • is it really posible though , i havent tried it yet , but im really skinny and wont to gain more fat/weight ? and its really hard ive tried eatting like all the time and sleeping ?

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  • Very good article, being a guy of 6’5 I try to be active all the time. You talk about having 8-10 glasses of water per day, I was reading in a book, which could be much more effective if you can not stand drinking ALOT of water like me, is to simply eat fruit. Fruit is soaked in water and daily servings of fruit can help makeup for your water loss. My personal favorite are the canned fruits at my local grocery store. Thanks for the article.

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  • @Lacey: If you’re eating a lot and trying unsuccessfully to gain weight, then you probably already have a high metabolism, so you’d be better off with a book like this for adding muscle and bulking up: Scrawny to Brawny

    @Justin: Thanks, and true, fruits are made up of a lot of water and they are certainly better for you than any snack that comes in a bag or box, but even too much fruit can be bad for your waistline if you don’t account for the carbs and sugars. Be especially careful with the canned fruits that have the sugary syrup in them, because those are loaded with much more sugar.

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  • Nice information, i think the hardest thing is the whole sleeping schedule… I’m so bad with that lol.

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  • Question, what kind of snacks should i eat.. usullay i eat like a piece of chicken and some salad, with some balsamic vinegar what kind of foods are good to eat? Thats the hardest thing. I work out 20 minutes a day on an exercise machine then do my weight lifting and then 100 crunches.

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  • Hey JJ,

    Yes, sleep is one of the most important things you can do, not only for speeding up your metabolism, but improving your overall health as well.

    I know it’s hard, but treat your bedtime like an important business meeting, and schedule it at the same time each day. Just dig in for a couple of weeks, and it will quickly become a great new habit that pays big dividends.

    As for the snacks, your example was great. Anything that combines protein and a few good carbs from fruits or vegetables is perfect.

    One of my favorites for an easy on-the-go snack is almonds and an apple or banana.

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  • Thanks, good looks man.

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  • I found this information extremely helpful. I just have a few question still roaming around in my head. I see that you say to eat more, well should I be watching the fat and carb intake? when should I wait to work out and what more cardio or light weight.

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  • I’ve been struggling with my weight for years and developed a severe breathing problem.All the diets I’ve tried. I SUCESSFULLY LOST AND SUCESSFULLY GAINED IT ALL BACK PLUS SOME.I never educated myself on how speeding up your metabolism is so important on losing weight.
    Thanks for all this useful information that will be put to good use.IS THERE ANY GOOD WORDS OF ADVISE?

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  • what kind of food should i eat to keep my metabolism up every 2-3 hours?

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  • good info! thanks.

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  • @Nabeel: Yes, of course “eating more often” isn’t a green light to gorge on unhealthy foods. The key is “eating (healthy foods) more often.”

    The golden rule is: Avoid any foods that come in a bag or a box.

    Of course there are several exceptions to this rule, but it means you should be eating more whole, natural foods, and less sugary, processed foods.

    As for working out, you should do it whenever it is most convenient for you, according to your daily schedule.

    Set aside a specific time and treat it just as seriously as you would an important meeting.

    Cardio and resistance training complement each other perfectly, so don’t think you have to limit yourself to one or the other.

    Here’s a great introductory article to combining them, along with which one you should do first: http://www.fitbuff.com/should-i-lift-or-run-first/

    @Stephanie: The key is to avoid “diets” all together. Many are so restricting that followers end up gaining all the weight back and more, just like you said.

    Instead, start substituting the “good stuff” (fruits, veggies, lean proteins) for the “bad stuff” (sodas, processed snacks, etc.) as often as possible.

    It’s ok to start slow with small adjustments, and make sure you take notice of how much better you feel and look, motivating you to continue the healthier habits.

    I promise your taste buds will adjust and appreciate the taste of your new PERMANENT diet, not to mention the overall health benefits.

    Plus, counting calories is virtually unnecessary if you are making healthy choices, so you’ll never feel restricted or famished as you might with some trend diets.

    @Tom: You want to get some lean protein in at every meal (here’s a list of 10 great choices: http://www.fitbuff.com/foods-high-in-protein-top-10-healthy-choices/ ), along with a healthy carb source like fruits and veggies.

    As mentioned above, one of my favorite on-the-go snacks is a handful of almonds with an apple, or chicken and broccoli for dinner.

    @Matt: No problem, thank you!

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  • I don’t like drinking plain water so I started drinking sparkling water like Perrier and I love it. Try that if you don’t like drinking water.

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  • nice info but you see i just turned 15 (Aug 17) and i kinda feel wierd working out in front of people and i don’t have any place private to go to. What do you suggest I do? And what exercises are best to lose fat off your stomach and thighs? If you have a myspace and me and keep me updated on the way to a healthy life(kraven_howl0@yahoo.com)

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  • great post! very useful… – love the line “multiplying like two rabbits on ecstasy” lol

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  • Nice article. Having a good metabolism is very important if you want to stay healthy.

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  • Great post, finding it very helpful. I was just wondering if I could ask some advice : I wake up at about 6am every morning and I am in the gym at about 6:30am, I was wondering if I should have something light to eat before I go to the gym or if just eating breakfast when I get home is ok? And if I should be eating something before I go, what do you suggest I eat?

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    • Thanks Michelle. There are fitness experts on both side of the fence, regarding your question, and they are usually pretty adamant about their advice. Mine is much simpler: If you feel fine during your workout (no dizziness or light-head, etc.), then it’s perfectly fine to hit the gym first without eating first thing.

      Then, when you get home, your body will be primed to best use the nutrients you consume during breakfast.

      Just make sure you are drinking water during your workout too.

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  • Great, Can I just ask should I try and eat upto my calorie limit?

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    • Hey Jonathan, that really depends on your goals and how you define your calorie limit.

      If you’re looking to lose fat and lean out, then you want to be in a slight calorie deficit, but if you’re looking to add muscle and bulk up, then you want to be in a slight calorie surplus.

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  • Hi Brandon, thanks for replying so soon. Something else I meant to ask: In the last couple of days I have been trying out your 6/9 sec technique and it has definitely worked for me. I was wondering how long I should be doing it for in a workout? For as long as I can and then do some strength training, bearing in mind that I want to lose a considerable amount of weight? When is the beat time to workout?(am/pm) How long should one workout in a day?
    Thank you

    p.s Sorry for the question overload!

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    • Hey Michelle “The Questionator” Williams 🙂

      The key to the 6/9 is to make sure you’re REALLY going all out in the high-intensity bursts. Otherwise, you should stick to and improve in more traditional 30/30 splits. But, if you’re going all out for 6/9, then start out with only about 5 minutes. Eventually, you can work up to 15 minutes, not including warm-up/cooldown. Just remember, don’t sacrifice intensity for the sake of going longer.

      Also, it’s best to alternate days of cardio with days of weightlifting, but if you must do both on the same day, always do cardio last. It’s better to burn out on an exercise bike than underneath a barbell, and a nice circuit strength training session can actually take care of both.

      The best time and duration for working out is always the most convenient time for each person. Just pick a time, any time, and try to make it a habit, so you workout near the same time every day. Consistency is far more important than AM vs PM.

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  • Adding spices to your diet is another way to kick your metabolism http://www.smudailymustang.com/?p=9217.

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  • I think I follow most of your tips naturally without even trying. I’m doing what feels good and all your tips make me feel good, so I do them. It’s a lifestyle, and hope you’ll like it.

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    • That’s great Kary, it’s always easier to keep doing something once you experience how great it can make you feel.

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  • Eating often would work for me 🙂

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    • Just remember “eating often” assumes smaller meals, not just adding in a few extra full dinners and lunches! 🙂

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  • Hi Brandon, Found the information here very useful, and for more than just loosing weight! I’m Diabetic (type 2) and recently started injecting Insulin to suplement my other medications – Some of the suggestions here are really helping me in my diet, and helping avoid the surge in weight gain that switching to Insulin sometimes causes! It’s also given me a few new ideas of ways I can combine the things I like and keep to a healthy diet! As for the exercise, I’m working on that bit by bit (due to other medical problems) but again this info really helps! Thanks!

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    • Great to hear Steve, glad it can help in more ways than one, good luck!

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  • Brandon,

    Starting today I am incorporating all of these steps to boost up your metabolism into account. It seems I have had the exercise part down packed (minus strength training because I have been not so much on the savvy side). I usually spin about 5-6 days a week but have found myself not seeing much result apart from my legs feeling much stronger. I hope following this guide line helps me. Thank you for such a great article. I will definitely be letting you know how it all goes from today onward.

    Have a great day.

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  • hey brandon, great article packed with info. i plan on this being my new bible basically, as i used to have a fast metabolism and now at 17 i feel like a 30 year old washed up athlete. but anyways, do you know of any good tasting meal ideas? i want to get started with a healthy diet but i cant find any real good combinations anywhere. the almonds(not salted im guessing?) and apple or banana sounds great for breakfast, as does the chicken and broccoli for dinner. but am i just supposed to repeatedly eat the same things? is there any sort of food guide you know of? also how am i supposed to know how many calories are in lettuce or celery? am i allowed to eat unlimited vegetables? and are complex carbs good in this diet change?

    sorry about all the questions, youve been a great help already

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  • one last thing, what sort of condiments or sauces/spices/seasonings are okay for foods? i know salad dressing is a big NO. i also read that vinegar and olive oil was alright, but i could get really sick of that with no other variety. thanks alot man

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    • Hey Gabe,

      No problem, glad you enjoyed the article, and you sound really motivated to get things going, that’s great!

      As far as the nutrition goes, there is only one source I would recommend above all others, because it literally changed the way I think about food and how I’ve eaten since:

      http://www.fitbuff.com/products/precision-nutrition/

      Dr. Berardi is one of the most knowledgeable nutritionists out there, and this system covers everything you could ever want to know, right down to specific calorie breakdowns, and tons of great recipes to mix things up.

      If you have any other questions, just let me know, and good luck!

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  • thanks alot sir. im wondering, i dont have much access to a gym right now, and am somewhat financially in a bind. with the cost of all the natural food im going to be purchasing, then going to school and getting college textbooks, i was wondering if i could maybe do some pushups or situp type muscle building, then skateboarding around, attempting tricks continously jumping around for periods of time as cardio. do you think that could combine to get my bodyfat % from 25 to 5-10? i would obviously be eating healthy i just need to know if i actually need to life massive weights at an actual gym just to get abs that “pop” out. i have some and they will definitely be nicer 10fold once i lose the weight but i do want somewhat “rock hard” abs, that i can show off. would i need to do additional weight lifting workouts?

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  • ive always really been motivated, but could never figure out meal plans. if i couldve just gotten a variety of decent tasting recepies that are healthy, i’d have been well on my way to a better physique. i read online that banana bread was healthy and fine to eat in a healthy lifestyle without any additional sugar added… what do you think about sometimes having that as a carb intake/diet treat? i really dont know what sweet things besides fruit i could look forward to eating but im sure the book you suggested i buy may have a few items besides plan fruit

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    • You can make tremendous gains and improvements with just body-weight and “fun” cardio like you’re talking about, and probably get down to 10-15% body fat if your diet is good enough. But to get to 5-10% takes quite a bit more work and dedication.

      As for the nutrition, yes that Precision Nutrition program I linked to will cover every question you’ve ever had about food and how it relates to your body composition. I think you’ll agree after reading that, that food can actually be even more important than exercise when it comes to changing your body composition.

      Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

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  • Thank you so much, i have a friend that did a counting calories diet similar to this one and they have been able to lose at least 60lbs in about 8 months, so i know that this works, i just needed to learn more about it and this site showed me everything i needed to know!

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  • Oh my gosh….. Your website is so helpful…really because I have been exercising for about a month now (mostly cardio), and whenever I like skip like three days like because of vacation or something 4 pounds right back on so quick… I figured out that I have a slow metabolism because I often skip meals or go without one for a long time, along with everything else you outlined about sleep and water. I’m gona change these thing ans see if it helps…
    Thanks alot!

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  • There are some great tips here! I had some questions, hope your still active here.

    How many times a week should you do HIIT workouts? I normally jog about 2 or more miles when I do workout, takes me 20 minutes, is this not good enough?

    Also are natural fruits (whole bananas or apples) okay to have as a small meal? I’ve heard green tea and antioxidants are linked to losing weight, but haven’t found proof.

    Thanks!

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  • Yeah so i just got done reading all that and im a little shocked. So what your saying is running 3 miles and walking 3 miles everyday isn’t gonna speed up my metabolism. I mean i think mines pretty quick cause for the like 5 years all i’v been soing is parting and drinking and eating pure junk food and im not fat im chubby as hell but not fat but im 23 now and quit all that about a month ago and since then been running 3 miles and walking 3 miles everynight in hopes to shed the weight aswell as cut all beer and soda and junk food out.so all im wanting to know is if im going about this all the wrong way???

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  • I have changed my workout pattern a lot. I use to run 5 to 8 miles daily with no results. I changed to 3 miles under 26 minutes followed with 2 sprints. Then I lift one muscle group a day. I have seen results, and I’m happy. But my question is am I still doing to much cardio, and if so how should I change. Please note: I’m concerned about losing my endurance. I’m very serious about toning up (tight).

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  • i am 5’10 and l am not obease im about 170 pounds i workout everyday and drink alot of water and my metablism wont speed up and its hard to lose the lower stomach area such a pain i have tryed situps leg raises anything else i can do to thin up?

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  • Hi, I was wondering…. Im 24 and for the last 10 years I have had an extremely low calorie intake… not eating for days….once a week alot of the time… I managed to come down to a heathly weight. Than I had a baby and gained weight i wasn’t able to lose. Now im 15 pounds over weight and I have been eating extremely healthy for two years, work out hard everyday stay active. Any pointers to speed up my metablosim…. I ‘ve tried eating more often I just gain alot of weight right after and have to starve myself to even lose half of it. Thanks.

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  • Hi, thanks for such a nice and important information. It really rocks. These are basic information which all of us should know, and which all of us ignore.

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  • Erin,

    What kinds of foods are you eating? I know that it’s not a good idea for you to be going days without eating anything. That alone will cause your metabolism to slow down greatly. I know that sometimes stress can make you hold onto weight. It would be a good idea for you to keep a food journal so you can keep track of what you are eating. That way you will be able to adjust your diet accordingly.

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  • I’m doing what feels good and all your tips make me feel good, so I do them. It’s a lifestyle, and I love it!

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  • I’m so glad I stumbled across this sight! I was just about to embark on a super strict fasting/workout plan that would have resulted in negative results considering the information I’ve found here.
    My only question: How long before I see significant results with your advise (i.e. eating 6+ small healthy means per day and 20-30 minutes of HIIT)? I need/want to lose 30lbs in 12 weeks. Is this reasonable??

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  • These are some great tips. I am following these daily. I eat 5-6 meals a day and I pretty much only drink water. 2 simple things that lots of people don’t even think of.

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  • I totally agree with you on everything you addressed in this blog. Because I have been doing these steps for years, such as eat 5 – 6 meals a day, drink lots of water, count calories, eat good fats, workout at least 3 days a week AND add strength training to my workout routines. I can’t stress enough how important strength training is, unfortunately, most of the women stay away from it… In conclusion, these ‘simple rules’ work for me. I was chubby 4 years ago and I hate exercising. After I hired a personal trainer, followed these steps, I see the amazing results, now I am fit and healthy. On top of that, I’m running a fitness business.
    I have blog on similar topic, check this out… http://istayfitforever.blogspot.com. any feed back is appreciated. 🙂

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  • This article is great! I will be referring to it often. This holiday season I experienced the benefits of increased Metabolism as a result of gaining more muscle. Usually, I gain pounds after all of the junky holiday eating, but this year I actually lost 3 lbs! and I know it’s because I’ve gained more muscle. whohoo!

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  • Thanks for the great post. I’ve seen all this in different places but it’s not common to get all this common sense advice in one place.

    My only issue would be following the suggestion for tweaking calorie intake. If I start working out more, eating more often, drinking more water, and sleeping more, I wouldn’t be able to tell if the calories are at the right level (within a few weeks) because I would be experiencing benefits from the other changes. You would need to hit steady state first and then tweak the calories (up or down) based on your performance.
    Thanks again for the advice. It’s triggered a lot more for me to think about. It’s time to starting getting ready for Spring!

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  • Speeding up the metabolism using your tips is one of the keys to success in weight loss. Drinking enough water is one of the most important things that you need to do in order to speed up metabolism.

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  • Yes !! Of-Course.! drinking a lot of water helps you lose weight. you drink a lot of water, and you dont feel as hungry. plus, most of the time you feel hungry, youre actually thirsty.

    drinking cold water boosts up your metabolism. this is because you are lowering your body’s temperature, and your body works harder to get it warm again. a cup of fridge cold water makes you lose 35 calories. that might not be a lot, but thats cool.For more information visit on stayfitnutrition Website..!! Thanks

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  • The idea of eating frequent meals to ‘stoke the metabolic fire’ is the biggest myth in diet and nutrition. Your metabolism does NOT crash after a few hours. It’s simply not true, and not backed up any credible evidence. Intermittent Fasting is a much more practical, realistic and effective approach. And it’s actually backed up by tons of real evidence, unlike the ‘eat all the time to lose weight’ lie that’s peddled constantly. I know you give the advice in good faith, it’s just simply not true.

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