You know that your metabolism gets a big boost during exercise. That's why you burn more calories by running than by sitting. But there are ways to trick your metabolism into running strong all day long, even hours after you exercise.
Metabolism consists of hormones and enzymes converting food into fuel; this fuel provides the energy the body needs to do daily tasks like thinking, all the way through to more active tasks like biking or yoga. When your metabolism is working at its peak—such as when you're running at your race pace on a treadmill—you are creating and using energy more efficiently. As your body plows through those calories, you'll lose weight faster and streamline your journey to a fitter physique.
So how do you keep your metabolism cranking after you've untied your shoes, showered, and settled in at your desk? It's all about those first moments after your workout, says Paul Arciero, Ed.D., a professor of exercise and nutrition at Skidmore College and director of the school's Human Nutrition and Metabolism Lab.
"The best trick to keep your metabolism high after you work out is eating 20 to 30 grams of protein, preferably whey," he says.
Protein takes more energy for your body to digest and absorb than other types of food; you may burn 25 percent of the protein calories you consume just by eating. After eating protein your body will stay in overdrive, which means you'll process more calories more quickly in the minutes and hours to come. Also, protein helps your body build more muscle, and the more lean body mass you have, the higher your metabolism burns. Whey protein is one of the most easily absorbed types of protein, which is why Arciero is such an advocate of the stuff.
Of course, what you do during your workout can also affect how well your body burns calories later in the day. Arciero suggests sprint workouts to really maximize your post-workout metabolic boost. Intervals—such as alternating one minute all-out and one minute of recovery—send your metabolism soaring as you exercise and keep it running strong for hours after too. Follow an interval fitness session with a protein-rich snack, such as a whey protein smoothie, for the ultimate metabolism jumpstart.
By Liz Simmons for DietsinReview.com