2. Sleep more, or go to bed early. A study in Finland looked at sets of identical twins and discovered that in each set of siblings, the twin who slept less and was under more stress had more visceral fat.
3. Eat More Protein. Your body needs protein to maintain lean muscle. In a 2006 article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers argued that the current recommended daily intake for protein, 0.36 grams per pound of body weight, is woefully inadequate for anyone doing resistance training and recommend that women get between 0.54 and 1 gram per pound of body weight. (If you want to lose weight, use your goal body weight as your guide.)
4. Drink more water. A study at Berlin’s Franz-Volhard Clinical Research Center wanted to see if drinking water really did aid in weight loss. Their finding were positive that it does. After drinking approximately 17 ounces of water, the subjects’ metabolic rates — or the rate at which calories are burned — increased by 30% for both men and women. The increases occurred within 10 minutes of water consumption and reached a maximum after about 30 to 40 minutes.
5. Eat more peppers. It turns out that capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their heat, can also fire up your metabolism. Eating about 1 tablespoon of chopped peppers (red or green) boosts your sympathetic nervous system (responsible for your fight-or-flight response), according to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. The result: a temporary metabolism spike of about 23 percent. Stock up on chili peppers to add to salsas, and keep a jar of red-pepper flakes on hand for topping pizzas, pastas, and stir-fries.
6. Eat breakfast. Those who eat breakfast everyday are on average thinner than those who skip breakfast. When you skip breakfast your metabolism is slower, and you also end up being hungrier throughout the rest of the day.
7. Fight Fat with Fiber. Research shows that some fiber can fire up your fat burn by as much as 30 percent. Studies find that those who eat the most fiber gain the least weight over time. Aim for about 25 grams a day—the amount in about three servings each of fruits and vegetables.
8. Eat Iron-Rich Foods. Iron is essential for carrying the oxygen your muscles need to burn fat. 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.
9. Drink Milk. There’s some evidence that calcium deficiency, which is common in many women, may slow metabolism. Research shows that consuming calcium through dairy foods such as fat-free milk and low-fat yogurt may also reduce fat absorption from other foods.