By Ivette Manners
1. EAT A GOOD BREAKFAST
Research says eating breakfast is the best way to start your metabolism, but most of us still skip it—or we grab a muffin on the go. The best breakfast, says Mary Horn, director of exercise science and nutrition at the Miraval Resort in Tucson, Ariz., is a mix of protein (eggs or tofu), carbs (whole grain toast or oatmeal), and healthy fats (olive oil or nuts).
2. LISTEN TO HUNGER CUES
If your stomach is growling for food, feed it. Just as important, stop eating when you're full. "If you overeat, your body stores the extra calories as fat," says Michelle May, M.D., author of Am I Hungry? (Nourish Publishing, 2005). "Undereat and your body lowers its metabolism in order to conserve energy."
3. STAY HYDRATED
Your liver flushes out toxins and converts fat to energy, and it needs water to function properly, says James LaValle, author of Cracking the Metabolic Code (Basic Health Publications, 2003). Drink enough fluids so your urine is pale yellow; water is a good choice as is eating plenty of fruits and veggies, but tea or juice will also hydrate you, says dietitian Jackie Keller (just be sure the drink is low in sugar).
4. TAKE PROBIOTICS
A recent study published in Molecular Systems Biology found that good bacteria— available in yogurt or kefir (eat one to three servings daily) or probiotic supplements (follow dosage instructions on the packet)—can help improve digestion and metabolism and promote weight loss. "Probiotics help balance metabolism," says Decker Weiss, N.M.D., a naturopathic cardiologist with the Arizona Heart Hospital.
5. SPICE IT UP
Studies suggest that capsaicin, found in chili peppers, may increase metabolic rate for 30 minutes by raising the body's temperature. Add a pinch of cayenne or paprika to a meal a few times a day.