You’ve probably heard many rumors about your metabolism, like that once you pass your teen years, it starts to slow down, or that eating spicy foods makes it “faster.” Truth be told, there are no universal rules for how everyone’s metabolism operates—but that doesn’t mean it’s completely out of our control.
So, what exactly is metabolism, and why is it important for your health and wellness goals?
“Metabolism is a complex process of chemical reactions through which our body is able to turn food into fuel or store it for later,” says Rebekah Blakely, R.D.N, nutritionist for The Vitamin Shoppe. “It can be mildly manipulated in most people, though the extent to which we can alter it depends on a number of factors, including age, gender, fat mass, muscle mass, genetics, and hormones.”
An article published in the research journal PLOS Genetics suggests that differences in metabolism and body weight between people may be partially due to variants in their DNA.
“Genetics do play a big part in it,” says Karen Cooney M.A., C.N., C.H.H.C, a nutritionist for The Vitamin Shoppe. Luckily, small lifestyle tweaks can make a difference in helping your metabolism to run on course.
Morning Metabolism Boost
While there’s no single fix that will jumpstart your metabolism, there are ways to give it a jolt—all starting with the choices you make first thing in the morning.
Why the morning? Michels says boosting your metabolism first thing in the A.M. with protein, fiber-rich foods, and other healthy choices supports balanced blood sugar, minimizing energy crashes during the day, and improving satiety.
Supporting your metabolism in the morning also sets the tone for the rest of the day, Blakely says. “By choosing a high-protein breakfast, sipping green tea, and getting a little exercise, you’ll be set up to make healthier choices in the hours to come.”
Read More: How To Keep Your Metabolism Humming As You Age
Here are four ways you can boost your metabolism every morning and support your health goals.
1. Sip Smart
Reaching for your favorite coffee drink in the morning may feel like second nature, but you might want to examine its sugar content.
“Not only does sugar in your coffee add extra calories, but it might slow down your metabolism,” says Blakely. “A 2011 study showed a decrease in energy expenditure in overweight/obese adults who consumed 25 percent of their calorie intake from beverages sweetened with fructose.” FYI: Table sugar is made up of 50 percent fructose.
There’s nothing wrong with having a little caffeine in the morning, though. “Going for healthy tea options like green tea or oolong tea can help boost metabolism and can support weight management,” says Cooney. “These low-caffeine drinks help convert fat molecules into fatty acids, which may increase the fat-burning process.” In fact, the antioxidants in green tea can help drinkers burn an extra 70 to 100 calories per day, she adds.
If caffeine isn’t your thing, reach for hot lemon water first thing in A.M. “It can kick-start your metabolism and your body into calorie-burning mode early in the day,” says Cooney. But really, any water first thing in the morning is ideal. One study published in the Journal Of Endocrinology And Metabolism found that drinking water may increase the body’s metabolic rate by up to 30 percent for an hour.
2. Don’t Skip Breakfast
Starting your morning with a high-protein meal is essential to boosting your metabolism and setting yourself up for success, says Blakely. “Protein-based foods have a high thermic effect, meaning they require more energy to digest,” she explains. “This results in a higher calorie burn for a few hours after eating it. Choose foods such as eggs, meat, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, and legumes.”
Read More: 4 Eating Habits That Sabotage Your Metabolism
3. Get Moving
Even if you’re just stretching, getting your blood flowing in the morning will help boost your calorie burn long after the workout is complete. “It can be a walk, jog, stretching, or yoga,” says Blakely.
Working out at any point in the day is a good move, but moving when you wake up may also help put you in a good mood, which can lead you to making healthier choices all day long, according to an article published in the Journal Of Consumer Research.
Read More: How To Train To Boost Your Metabolism
4. Supplement Right
Having a solid morning supplement routine can help boost your metabolism and kick your body into calorie-burning gear, says Blakely. She suggests diluting one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in four to eight ounces of water first thing in the morning. Its benefits, which have been linked to fat metabolism, likely come from the acetic acid present in apple cider vinegar, Blakey says.
She also suggests green tea extract at breakfast time. It contains EGCG, an antioxidant that has been studied for its beneficial effects on metabolism.
Lastly, Blakely recommends finishing off your morning supplement routine with CLA Carnitine Collagen (with optional caffeine).
“CLA and carnitine can have potentially favorable effects on fat metabolism and energy production,” says Blakely. “Collagen provides amino acids, which support healthy muscle tissue, which supports a higher metabolic rate. The addition of caffeine as a stimulant temporarily boosts metabolic rate, as well.”