Say yes to breakfast
Eating breakfast can jump-start your metabolism and keeps your energy levels higher all day. That may explain why women who regularly skip this meal are 4½ times as likely to be obese, some research shows.
Don’t sit still
Research shows even small movements - stretching your legs, taking the stairs, or even just standing to talk on the phone - can add up to an extra 1,465kJ (350cal) burned in a single day.
Keep your bedroom chilly
A study published in the journal Diabetes found those who slept in a 18°C (66°F) room burned 7 percent more kilojoules than those sleeping in a 23°C (75°F) room. The study authors believe this is caused by the participants’ bodies burning extra energy to raise their core temperature.
Fight fat with fibre
Research shows that fibre can increase your fat burn by as much as 30 percent. Studies also suggest women who eat a lot of fibre are less likely to gain weight over time. Aim for about 25 g a day - the amount in three servings each of fruits and vegetables.
Drink coffee or tea
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, and your daily java can increase your metabolism up to 8 percent. Likewise, a cup of brewed tea can raise your metabolism by 12 percent, according to Japanese researchers, who believe tea antioxidants called catechins provide the boost.
Drink more water
German researchers found that drinking 1.35L (48 ounces) of cold water a day can help you burn more kilojoules. The benefit may come from the work your system has to put out to heat all that water to body temperature.
Don’t skimp on protein
Research shows protein can increase post-meal kilojoule burn by as much as 35 percent. So try to add some healthy protein to every meal, like lean cuts of meat or poultry, dairy, fish, nuts, or beans.
Iron is essential for transporting the oxygen your muscles need to burn fat, says dietitian Tammy Lakatos. Until menopause, women lose iron each month through menstruation. Unless you restock your stores, you run the risk of low energy and a sagging metabolism. Shellfish, lean meats, beans, fortified cereals, and spinach are excellent sources.
Get more vitamin D
This essential vitamin helps preserve metabolism-revving muscle tissue. Get 90 percent of your recommended daily value (400 IU) in a 100g serving of salmon. Other good sources: tuna, prawns, tofu, fortified milk and cereal, and eggs.
"There’s some evidence that calcium deficiency, which is common in many women, may slow metabolism,” Lakatos says. Research shows consuming calcium through dairy foods may also reduce fat absorption from other foods.
Choose chewy foods
The more you gnaw before swallowing, the more energy you’re burning before that food even hits your belly. Food in its “whole state” - think apples as opposed to applesauce - tend to require more chewing. So do proteins, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
Catch some Z’s
Just one night of bad sleep can slow down your metabolism the next morning, reducing the energy you expend by up to 20 percent, according to a US study. On top of that, disturbed shut-eye can seriously throw off hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin, which means you’ll be more likely to reach for junk food.
Go for a morning stroll
Getting exposure to light in the morning will not only help you wake up, but may help keep you slim, suggests US research. Sun strength light helps sets your body’s internal clocks, which regulate everything from your sleep to your metabolism.
Laugh a little (or a lot)
As few as 10 minutes of giggles can help you burn 10 to 20 percent more kilojoules, compared with being stone-faced, research shows. Studies have also linked laughter to lower rates of stress and a healthier heart.
Grab a handful of nuts
Research suggests the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in nuts - and especially in walnuts - may enhance the activity of certain genes that control fat burning. The result: You torch more kilojoules throughout the day, finds a review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Aim for 30 to 45g of nuts a day.
Don’t skip the iodine
Without adequate iodine, your thyroid is unable to perform normally, and so your body’s ability to burn kilojoules can take a nosedive. While iodine is found in many foods, much of the Australian food supply is now low in iodine which can lead to a deficiency. The good news is that some foods have been fortified with iodine to help increase levels these include breads you find in the supermarket as well as iodised table salt.
Say no to soft drink
Drinking artificially sweetened beverages may negatively affect your body’s normal metabolic response to sugar, notes a study in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism. Diet drinks may also be linked to metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Avoid “white” carbs
Just as fibre and slowly digesting foods power your metabolism and require more energy to burn, the opposite is true of refined snacks and grains. Skip white bread, white rice, and snack foods like chips or cookies in favour of whole, unprocessed foods and grains.
Go easy at the bar
When you have an alcoholic drink, you burn less fat because the alcohol is used as fuel instead. Knocking back the equivalent of two martinis can reduce your body’s fat-burning ability by up to 73 percent, research shows
Eat enough zinc
Another nutrient that your thyroid relies on for proper function: zinc. Vegans should watch out for a deficiency. While you don’t need much zinc, only a handful of foods contain the nutrient - including beef, poultry, shellfish, sesame seeds and spelt.
Select spicy ingredients
Dieters taking capsaicin, the chemical that gives chillies their fire, doubled their energy expenditure for several hours, according to US research. By binding to nerve receptors and sending fat-burning signals to your brain, even mild chillies contain compounds that help erase up to 418kJ (100cal) a day.
Opt for full-fat dairy
Women who ate dairy three or four times a day lost 70 percent more body fat than those who skipped it, according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition. More research shows people who eat full-fat dairy tend to be slimmer than those who select low- or non-fat. The fat in dairy may fill you up faster, which can cut down the urge to grab unhealthy snacks.
And take off that jumper
Research suggests healthy “brown fat” - which builds up in small amounts when you’re exposed to the cold - is metabolically active and can help your body burn kilojoules throughout the day. More research suggests that both brown fat and your ability to withstand the cold build up quickly if you lose that extra layer during the colder months.
Avoid snacking at night
Particularly on starchy junk food. “Eating carbs in the evening leads to metabolic problems, because the body is more resistant to insulin at night,” says obesity expert Dr Aaron Cypess. This can result in higher blood sugar, which can contribute to weight gain and other complications.