Boost your metabolism

Hoping to get your body fit for a swimsuit but finding yourself wider around the waist than you'd like?

For the younger set, it would probably be a bit easier to shed the extra pounds. But not so for those who are a little older because the metabolism has become slightly sluggish.

Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy.

A slower metabolism means that less of what you eat will be burnt and so will just hang around in the form of fat.

Even when you're asleep, your body needs energy just to keep you breathing, to circulate blood and repair cells.

But rather than grab some pills that claim to up your metabolism and burn the fat off, why not try the natural alternatives?

Eat breakfast

This is a meal that's too often skipped.

Many people aren't hungry in the morning. Others are in a hurry and yet others labour under the misconception that the skipped meal will mean fewer calories and less weight added.

But your body adjusts to what it thinks are your needs. If you don't eat enough, your body goes into "famine mode" and your body will slow its metabolism to conserve calories for vital functions. A healthy morning meal will give your metabolism a kick-start.

Eat more protein

Taking on more protein, such as egg whites, lean meats, chicken, fish helps release the hormone glucagon.

Glucagon tells fat cells to release fat into the blood, so it can be turned into energy. More protein, more fat burned.

Portions and hydration

Smaller portions, more often

Every time you eat, it helps your metabolism rise. So eat more meals but in smaller portions. But watch what you eat. There's still the basic rule - don't take on more calories than you need. Go green

There's been a lot of talk about the health benefits of green tea. Studies show that catechins, the antioxidants in green tea, help increase fat burning. Green tea also lowers blood sugars by inhibiting enzymes that allow the absorption of starches. Sleep vital

Not getting enough sleep means that your body won't produce the right amounts of the hormones, leptin and ghrelin. These two hormones regulate energy use and appetite. Researchers at Stanford University found that those sleeping less than 7.5 hours a night experienced an increase in their body mass index.

Water, water

Staying hydrated helps with metabolic processes like digestion and temperature regulation. The Mayo Clinic recommends drinking 2 litres of water a day. If the water is cold, your body will burn extra calories heating it up.

Get muscles

Muscle is an active tissue. Unlike fat, which just stays there, muscle will raise your metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more energy is required to fuel it. You don't need to bulk up. An activity like resistance training is recommended by The American Council on Exercise for weight management.

This article was first published in The New Paper.