A high metabolism can help your body produce the amount of energy it needs for normal function and promotes the removal of waste and toxins from your body. A slow metabolism can cause problems with weight gain and poor health. You could blame your slow metabolism on age, genetics, weight gain, and other health problems. However, you can learn ways on how to boost your metabolism.
Metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.
These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning. Your body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) accounts for 70 per cent of your metabolism. It’s the amount of energy your body burns to keep itself functioning while at rest. (Think keeping your body temperature steady, your heart beating, your digestive processing functioning.) This is what people refer to when they talk about speeding up their metabolism.
It is a common belief that raising your metabolism helps you burn more calories and increase weight loss. Unfortunately, there are more myths about boosting metabolism than tactics that work. Some myths can backfire. If you think you are burning more calories than you actually are, you could end up eating more than you should.
If you’re wondering how to increase metabolism, we’ve best quick and easy ways to rev your fat-burning furnace to help you reach your weight loss goals that much faster
There are many different ways to increase your metabolism, but some methods work better than others. Believe it or not, common metabolism tricks may lead to weight gain. Instead of wasting time with misguided advice, stick to what works. We’ll help you sort through the science with our five effective metabolism-boosting strategies to incorporate into your daily life.
The good news? There are a few ways to boost your metabolism naturally, from getting more exercise to incorporating certain foods in your diet. If you want to start with the food side of things
What Is Metabolism?
Metabolism is defined as the series of chemical reactions that burn calories. Those chemical reactions can be further refined into three categories: your resting metabolic rate (RMR), the thermic effect of physical activity (TEPA), and the thermic effect of feeding (TEF).
Your BMR may account for up to 80% of your body’s daily energy requirements, depending on your age and lifestyle. A “slow metabolism” is more accurately described as a low BMR.
There are lots of online calculators that can work out your daily energy needs. Look out for those that use the Harris-Benedict equation.
What Affects Our Metabolism, for Better or Worse?
Genetics play the biggest role in metabolism, but some variations are seen among certain ethnic groups.
Lean muscle mass, which accounts for about a 5 percent difference between men and women, also affects metabolism, because muscle burns more calories than fat, even at rest. Increasing muscle mass through exercise increases your metabolism even when you’re not actively exercising.
The most variability in metabolism among individuals is also seen with activity thermogenesis (the number of calories you burn by being active).
How Does Eating Certain Foods Help Rev Up Your Metabolism?
Certain foods can speed up or slow down metabolism, potentially affecting weight loss. But it’s not a simple, direct relationship — “eat this to boost your metabolism and lose weight.”
For example, meals high in protein cause our metabolism to increase, but it’s usually temporary. “At that meal, your energy expenditure is greater,” says Majumdar. “Whether that actually translates to big changes, weight management, or weight loss is a different story.”
What’s more, with respect to weight loss, metabolism isn’t the only factor; the amount we eat also matters. Eating meals high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats promotes satiety, meaning we’re less likely to eat as much at the next meal.
On the flip side, not eating enough calories can cause your body to use muscle for energy, which can lead to a loss of muscle mass. If the body is trying to reserve its energy stores, metabolism will slow.
Experts agree that there’s no one food that will have such a significant effect on our metabolism that it would cause us to lose weight. But there are foods that may rev up your metabolism a bit, and there are others you should eat in moderation or avoid altogether.
Resting Metabolic Rate
Here’s some good news. Most of the calorie burning you do takes no extra effort at all. About 60%-75% of the calories you torch through comes from simply keeping your body operating. Like a machine that never turns off, your body is always working, and it always needs fuel, whether you’re running a marathon or sleeping. The organs doing most of that extra work are the heart, brain, lungs, liver, and kidneys, which together make up about 80% of the total calories used every day.
Some people do have a higher RMR than others. Children have especially high calorie needs when at rest compared to adults. On average a child under age 6 at rest burns twice as many calories per pound as an adult. Between ages 6 and 18, your RMR drops by about 25%, and every decade after that your RMR drops another 2% to 3%. That’s mostly because we tend to become less active as we grow older, meaning we tend to lose calorie-burning muscle mass.
How to Boost Your Metabolism
Eat Plenty of Protein at Every Meal
Eating food can increase your metabolism for a few hours.
This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.
Protein causes the largest rise in TEF. It increases your metabolic rate by 15–30%, compared to 5–10% for carbs and 0–3% for fats.
Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating.
One small study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.
Eating more protein can also reduce the drop in metabolism often associated with losing fat. This is because it reduces muscle loss, which is a common side effect of dieting).
Exercise Boosts Your Metabolism Long After You Stop
It is true that you burn more calories when you exercise, especially when you get your heart rate up with activities like biking or swimming.
That increased calorie burn lasts as long as your workout. You might keep burning extra calories for an hour or so after that, but the aftereffects of exercise stop there. Once you stop moving, your metabolism will go back to its resting rate.
If you load up on calories after a workout, thinking your body will keep burning calories the rest of the day, you risk weight gain.
What to do: Exercise for your health and refuel with healthy foods. Do not let exercise give you an excuse to overindulge in high-calorie foods and drinks.
Eating At Regular Times
The body relies on balance and regularity. Eating at consistent times may help maintain metabolic balance.
Otherwise, if a person eats a lot, then goes for long periods without eating, the body may burn calories more slowly and store more fat cells.
By eating at regular times, a person can reduce this tendency.
Ideally, a person should eat several small meals or snacks about 3 or 4 hours apart.
Put On Muscle
Even when you’re at rest, your body is constantly burning calories. In fact, 60 to 80 percent of the calories that you burn each day are being used up just keeping you alive, according to research published in Frontiers in Physiology. Studies show “resting metabolic rate” and total calories burned is much higher in people with more muscle because every pound of muscle uses about 6 calories a day just to sustain itself. If you can pack on just five pounds of muscle and sustain it, you’ll burn the caloric equivalent of three pounds of fat over the course of a year.
Move More at Home
Did you know that you can boost your metabolism while you clean your house? Modify the way that you carry out household chores to increase your range of motion and bump up your heart rate.5 Depending on how much effort you put in, some housecleaning routines can be just as beneficial as a traditional workout.
Simple changes at home can also help you reduce overeating while infusing more activity into your daily life. Take an extra trip up the stairs, pace around while you chat on the phone, or stand while you work on your laptop to prevent your body from staying sedentary for extended periods.
Cardio is great, but if you’re looking to increase your metabolism, weight lifting is where it’s at. Men are more inclined to lift weights; it’s women who resist the lift, and that’s a pity because weight lifting is super beneficial. Most women are afraid that they’ll get “bulky” from weights, but that’s just not true. Building muscle means you’ll be able to burn more calories while you’re resting. You may find that you look better and your clothes will be looser because you’ll be more toned.
Eat Fat-Burning Foods
Fat-burning ingredients like protein, spicy peppers and green tea have been proven to bump up metabolism. Eat some form of these foods, especially protein, at every meal. Protein is especially important: It takes more calories to digest than other foods and also helps the body build fat-burning lean muscle tissue.
Build And Maintain Body Muscle Mass
“People who have more body muscle are generally going to have a higher metabolism,” says Douglas White, PhD, Associate Professor in the department of nutrition, dietetics, & hospitality management at Auburn University. That’s because it takes more energy to maintain muscle mass in your body than it does fat.
It’s a catch-22 of weight loss, says White: “When people lose weight, they not only lose fat, they lose muscle mass as well. So, if you lose muscle, your basal metabolic rate will tend to go down and make it harder to burn calories to lose weight.”
Gaining muscle has only a small positive impact on your resting metabolism. But what about your active metabolism? Now here’s an opportunity to make some significant improvements, right? Well, yes and no.
Aerobic exercise does burn many more calories actively than muscles do while resting. But making a significant dent in your overall calorie consumption is going to take a significant effort as well. Remember that phrase “Thermic Effect of Physical Activity?” TEPA only accounts for between 15% and 30% of your calorie needs every day—and that includes all the activity that you do throughout the day, and not just your workout.
So exercising more does help. But it’s useful to know how much it helps in order to set reasonable expectations. The USDA provides an online Body Weight Planner that can help you see exactly how much fitness can improve your weight loss efforts.
As an example, let’s say you are a 210-lb man, 30 years old, 5’10”, who would like to lose 20 pounds in three months. Let’s assume you don’t really do any exercise at the beginning of this challenge. To reach that goal with no fitness at all, you will need to go from eating about 3,000 calories per day to 1,800 calories.
If you’d like to indulge a bit and want to offset your calories with a few workouts, let’s run the numbers. Say you add 30 minutes of light running to your routine four times a week. That extra effort means you can eat an additional 200 calories per day to reach your weight goal, equal to about four Oreo cookies.
If you decide to get really serious about keeping fit by adding another three hours of medium-exertion cycling to your week, you can then eat an extra 500 calories each day compared to the sedentary person. That’s a little less than a Big Mac—hold the fries. So is the extra Big Mac each day worth adding five hours of exercise to your week? That’s up to you.
Consume Calories Wisely
Consuming more calories than your body needs will cause it to store the excess energy sources as fat, slowing down your metabolism. Reducing the number of calories you consume means fewer compounds for your body to break down, quickening the catabolic process. However, that doesn’t mean limiting yourself to a restrictive diet is good for your metabolism. If you don’t consume enough calories, your body enters “starvation mode” which slows down your metabolism so it can hold on to its energy stores.
Drink More Cold Water
People who drink water instead of sugary drinks are more successful at losing weight and keeping it off.
This is because sugary drinks contain calories, so replacing them with water automatically reduces your calorie intake.
However, drinking water may also temporarily speed up your metabolism .
Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 liters) of water increases resting metabolism by 10–30% for about an hour.
This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.
Water can also help fill you up. Studies show that drinking water a half an hour before you eat can help you eat less.
One study of overweight adults found that those who drank half a liter of water before their meals lost 44% more weight than those who didn’t.
Eating Small Meals During The Day Increases Your Metabolism
Unfortunately, there is little scientific evidence that eating small, frequent meals boosts metabolism.
Spreading your meals throughout the day might keep you from getting too hungry and overeating. If so, it is a good idea. Athletes perform better when they eat more often in smaller amounts. If you are someone who has a hard time stopping once you start eating, 3 meals a day may make it easier for you to stick to an appropriate intake than lots of little snacks.
What to do: Pay attention to your hunger cues and eat when you feel hungry. Keep track of your daily diet and limit high-sugar, high-fat snacks.
Drinking Green Tea
While studies have not conclusively proven it, some research indicates that green tea extract may play a role in promoting fat metabolism.
Green tea can be a good alternative to sugary juices, and drinking it can help ensure that a person is getting enough water during the day.
While the metabolic benefits are not certain, 1–2 cups a day can be a healthful addition to a balanced diet.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Jimmy Fallon’s doing great, but now it’s time to DVR him and start getting to bed earlier. A study in Finland looked at sets of identical twins and discovered that in each set of siblings, the twin who slept less had more visceral fat. If you do nothing else differently, just getting an extra half hour of shuteye will make all the difference. If you’re chronically sleep deprived, don’t be surprised if you gain a few pounds without eating a morsel of extra food.
“A lack of sleep can cause several metabolic problems,” says nutritionist and Holistic Health Coach Seth Santoro. “It can cause you to burn fewer calories, lack appetite control and experience an increase in cortisol levels, which stores fat.”
Lack of sufficient sleep—under the recommended seven to nine hours a night for most adults—also leads to impaired glucose tolerance, a.k.a. your body’s ability to utilize sugar for fuel. “We all have those less-than-adequate nights of sleep,” says nutritionist Lisa Jubilee, MS, CDN. “But if it’s a regular thing, you’re better off lengthening your night’s sleep than working out, if fat loss or weight maintenance is your goal.”
Myth: Drinking Water Helps
Drinking water to use up extra calories has been controversial. You may wonder, “If water is zero-calorie, how could drinking it burn any calories at all?” A study published in 2003 seemed to have the answer.
Testing only 14 people, German researchers claimed that by drinking about 17 ounces of water, their subjects’ metabolisms increased by 30%. The researchers said this was the result of the body warming itself after being cooled by the cold water. If the results held up, simply drinking two liters of cold water per day (a little over half a gallon) would help you burn an extra 95 calories.
There was only one small problem—future studies couldn’t reproduce the results. One study showed only a 4.5% metabolic increase—a tiny, insignificant rise.
As one nutrition scientist put it, “I’m not saying drinking water isn’t good; but only one study showed people who drank more water burned a few extra calories, and it was only a couple of extra calories a day.”