Your resting metabolism is "the rate at which your body burns calories" and it plays a big role in how quickly and efficiently you lose or maintain weight. True, there are some aspects of metabolism that are beyond your control. But contrary to popular perception, you need not be stuck with slow metabolism, since there are many things you can do to increase it.

WHAT YOU CAN'T CHANGE: these factors influence metabolism, and there's little we can do about it:

  • GENES: Chances are your parents or their parents had metabolisms similar to yours.
  • GENDER: In general, men have higher metabolisms than women.
  • AGE: Metabolism tends to become a bit slower with age.
WHAT YOU CAN CHANGE: These habits can increase your metabolism:
  • EATING BREAKFAST. Eating soon after you arise in the morning gets your metabolism going. If you skip breakfast, you miss out on several hours of higher calorie-burning. In fact, research studies suggest that people who eat breakfast are better able to manage their weight.
  • BECOMING MORE ACTIVE IN YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE. Even if you have a sedentary job, you can introduce small bursts of activity into your routine -- taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking instead of driving -- that burn extra calories.
  • BUILDING LEAN MUSCLE THROUGH EXERCISE. Muscle tissue burns calories at a faster rate than fat does. By strength training (working out with weights) regularly, you can increase your body's amount of muscle and increase your metabolism.