Order water -- and ask for a refill
A new German study found that when you drink 17 ounces of water (about two glasses) within a certain time frame, your metabolic rate shoots up by about 30 percent. Using these results, they estimate that by increasing your current water intake by 1.5 liters a day, a person would burn an extra 17,400 calories a year, resulting in about a five-pound weight loss.
Get your thyroid checked
Suspect you have a sluggish metabolism? You might have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland, which afflicts about 25 percent of American women -- many of whom don't know they have the condition, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. "The thyroid gland controls your body's metabolism, so one of the first signs that it may be off is an inability to lose weight," explains Peeke. Your doctor can determine if you're suffering from hypothyroidism by running a blood test. If you do have an underactive thyroid, you'll be treated with a synthetic thyroid supplement, which you will need to take for the rest of your life (it will return your metabolism to normal, so it should be easier to lose weight).
Want to keep your favorite meals from going straight to your hips (thighs, belly)? Wash them down with water, not wine. Alcohol slows your metabolism by depressing the central nervous system. A British study found that when alcohol was added to a high-fat, high-calorie meal, less dietary fat was burned off and more was stored as body fat.
Rev up your workouts
Interval training -- in which you add bursts of high-intensity moves into your workout -- is a surefire metabolism booster, says Glenn Gaesser, Ph.D., director of the Kinesiology Program at the University of Virginia and author of The Spark. Researchers at Laval University in Quebec found that high-intensity interval training burns more fat than regular, consistent aerobic exercise. If you usually jog at a 10-minute-mile pace, for example, add a 30-second sprint every five minutes. Or add a one-minute incline to your treadmill workout every five minutes. "Even if you just have 10 minutes for a quick workout, you can walk at a normal pace and then add in a 30-second bout of speed-walking every three minutes," recommends Gaesser.
Read more: 21 Ways to Burn Fat Faster - Redbook