4 ½ Energizing Tips for Boosting Your Winter Metabolism

You know the sluggish, can’t-get-out-of-bed-, when-will-this-winter-end- feeling that comes along around this time of year?

Of course you do, and you’re not alone. Turns out, it might actually be wired into us. The slow-motion feeling we get in winter is actually our bodies telling us to enter hibernation mode. Cooler temperatures and shorter days actually prompt the body to go into “storage” mode with a buildup of fat. Sometimes we blame these extra couple of pounds on holiday treats, prompting ambitious resolutions that fail right about… now.

So what can you do to ignite your biological fire and energize your metabolism? Follow our 4 ½ tips to get you back on the path to feeling alive this winter!

Tip 1: Embrace the cold!

Letting your thermostat dip a couple of degrees will not only save some money, but might just help to boost your metabolism.

Hand reducing temperature on a wall-mounted thermostat.

There is a link between a slight decrease in environmental temperature and the transition of white fat to brown fat. White fat is the kind our body produces in “storage” mode, while brown fat is much more metabolically active. Decreased temperatures are linked to increased fat metabolic activity and improved insulin sensitivity1. In one study, these effects were seen when participants lived with the thermostat set to 19 degrees C. This is because when we’re slightly chillier, our bodies keep warm through “non-shivering thermogenesis” (NST); literally “making heat” by using this brown fat for energy. Some researchers even suggest that the effects of shivering and exercise are similar2.

So dial down that heater and get your internal fire burning.

Tip 2: Spice things up!

Stoking that internal fire can be as simple as adding some spice. A growing body of recent research has shown the metabolism-boosting benefits of capsaicin, the compound in chilies that gives them their spicy heat.

Red chili peppers with ground chili flakes

In fact, supplementing with capsaicin is so effective that it can actually create a negative energy balance and burn fat, the hallmarks of boosting metabolism3,4.

Not only does this spicy superstar boost fat oxidation, it has also been shown to prevent the formation of new fat cells. Visit your local CHFA Member natural health retailer to learn more about capsaicin supplements.

Tip 3: Brew up some green tea

Besides being a great winter warmer, green tea can also boost your metabolism due to its bioactive phytonutrients called catechins (pronounced “kat-uh-kins”). 

Cups of steaming green tea

These potent antioxidants, also available as a supplement, have been shown to improve blood flow5 and reduce cholesterol.

However, the real metabolism boosting benefits of green tea catechins are their ability to increase fat breakdown, energy expenditure and metabolic rate6.  These benefits are seen when study subjects consumed approximately 300mg of green tea catechins. Different varieties or preparations of green tea can have immense ranges of the amount of catechins present, so it might be beneficial to opt for a supplement with a guaranteed amount.

Tip 4: Exercise

Seasonal cold temperatures stimulate our bodies to become slightly insulin resistant, meaning that your muscles and other cells don’t respond very well to glucose, the fuel that keeps us upright.

Purple yoga mat being unrolled

Even though the biting cold and snow can be a deterrent, ensuring that you’re still getting some exercise can improve insulin response, help with burning energy and kick-starting your metabolism. Both endurance exercise and weight-training exercise show benefits.

Tip 4 ½:  Fish oil

Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil or krill oil supplements, may help protect from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and when paired with exercise can boost enzymes responsible for breaking down fat! It also helps to improve the bio-availability of green tea supplements, helping to extend those fat-burning benefits.

A spoonful of omega-3 capsules on a wooden table

There are many ways of re-invigorating yourself to ignite your metabolism.  Whether you reduce your thermostat a few degrees, supplement with capsaicin to replace some lost heat, brew some green tea or bust out your work-out clothes, you’ll be on the road out of hibernation in no time.