Is your metabolism feeling a little sluggish lately? Could it use a boost? People often simplify metabolism by assuming it’s all about meeting a magic number of calories each day to maintain weight. In reality, your metabolism encompasses thousands of reactions and interactions that take place to help build, repair, energize, and detoxify your body.

Likewise, there are many hormones related to its functioning, including your sex hormones, thyroid hormones, and stress hormones that can either help or hamper your metabolism depending on their balance. Of course, a healthy diet and regular exercise are common recommendations to help support optimal metabolic functioning, but there are plenty of other simple ways to take advantage of all your metabolic opportunities!

What Is Metabolism?


Your metabolism—more precisely known as your resting metabolic rate—refers to the number of calories you burn in a resting state (think sitting, lying, sleeping). These calories are expended to carry out functions essential to survival, such as breathing, blood circulation, and oxygen and nutrient delivery throughout the body.

Your metabolism accounts for up to 70 percent of the calories you burn per day. The higher your metabolism, the more calories you burn. This means you may be able to eat more calories than a person of similar stature and better maintain your weight. And when you’re dieting, this means you may be able to eat more calories to drive weight loss, which leads to a happier, less-hungry you. No wonder a “fast” metabolism is so desirable!  

Factors You Can and Can’t Control

Your resting metabolic rate is influenced by several factors that are non-modifiable. These include your age, stature, sex, and genetics. As you age, your metabolism declines largely due to a decrease in fat-free mass. That means that as you get older, your body requires fewer calories to maintain your weight than it did the year before, all else being equal. As you can imagine, this compounds quickly. If you don’t alter your exercise and eating habits, weight gain is likely.

Your body frame, independent of your muscle mass, is another factor that affects your metabolism beyond your control. The larger your body size, the faster your metabolism is likely to be, since your body needs to expend more energy to carry out essential functions across a larger area. And of course genetics influences everything, so even if you’re the same age and size as someone else, your metabolic rates may still differ significantly.

Fortunately, your muscle mass also largely influences your metabolism. And you can directly influence the amount of muscle mass you have through your eating and exercise habits. Skeletal muscle is energetically costly tissue, which essentially means your body expends significant energy (calories) to maintain it. If you were to measure the metabolic rate of two people of the same size, but drastically different body compositions, you’d likely notice wildly different estimated values. By eating and training to optimize muscle growth, you’ll set yourself up to enhance your metabolism.

Tips To Boost Your Metabolism

1. Think Protein

Consuming dietary protein directly triggers muscle growth and repair. To maximize protein’s muscle-building response, it’s important that you’re not only eating enough, but that you’re eating it frequently throughout your day. Remember, the amount of muscle mass you have impacts your metabolic rate; to boost your metabolism, it makes sense to prioritize protein appropriately throughout the day.

In addition to eating sufficient protein at each meal, it’s advantageous to spread your protein out in equal amounts across multiple meals rather than consuming it in just 1-2 large meals and a few protein-poor meals. To maximally stimulate the muscle growth and repair response from protein, you must meet a minimum threshold every few hours, which for most of us is 25-35 grams of high-quality protein.

2. Hydrate

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. Drinking water a half an hour before you eat can help you eat less.

3. Choose High Intensity Exercise



High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves quick and very intense bursts of activity. It can help you burn more fat by increasing your metabolic rate, even after your workout has finished. This effect is believed to be greater for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) than for other types of exercise. What’s more, HIIT has also been shown to help you burn fat.

The style of exercise you choose also has a major impact on your metabolic rate. After completing a bout of high-intensity exercise, your oxygen consumption, is elevated in an attempt to replenish substrates used up during exercise. This rise elevates energy expenditure, potentially for up to 24-48 hours, which further impacts your metabolic rate long after your session ends.

4. Train with weights regularly


Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, and building muscle can help increase your metabolism. This means you will burn more calories each day, even at rest. Lifting weights will also help you retain muscle and combat the drop in metabolism that can occur during weight loss. To fully capitalize on the benefits of resistance training, be sure your workout focuses on all the major skeletal-muscle groups with multi-joint movements and multiple sets, and frequently targets the 8-12-repetition range, and even the 12-20 range on occasion

5. Stand up More

Sitting too much is bad for your health. Some health commentators have even dubbed it “the new smoking.” This is partly because long periods of sitting burn fewer calories and can lead to weight gain. In fact, compared to sitting, an afternoon of standing up at work can burn an extra 174 calories. If you have a desk job, try standing up for short periods to break up the length of time you spend sitting down.

6. Drink Green Tea


Green tea and oolong tea have been shown to increase metabolism by 4–5%. These teas help convert some of the fat stored in your body into free fatty acids, which may increase fat burning by 10–17%. As they are low in calories, drinking these teas may be good for both weight loss and weight maintenance. It’s thought their metabolism-boosting properties may help prevent the dreaded weight loss plateau that occurs due to a decrease in metabolism. However, their effect may be small or only apply to some people.

7. Eat Spicy Foods

Peppers contain capsaicin, a substance that can boost your metabolism. However, many people can’t tolerate these spices at the doses required to have a significant effect. One study of capsaicin, at acceptable doses, predicted that eating peppers would burn around 10 additional calories per meal. Over 6.5 years, this could account for 1 pound (0.5 kg) of weight loss for an average-weight male. Alone, the effects of adding spices to your food may be quite small. However, it may lead to a slight advantage when combined with other metabolism-boosting strategies.

8. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Lack of sleep is linked to a major increase in the risk of obesity. This may partly be caused by the negative effects of sleep deprivation on metabolism. Lack of sleep has also been linked to increased blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, which are both linked to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It’s also been shown to boost the hunger hormone ghrelin and decrease the fullness hormone leptin. This could explain why many people who are sleep-deprived feel hungry and struggle to lose weight.

9. Drink Coffee

Studies have shown that the caffeine in coffee can boost metabolism by 3–11%. Like green tea, it also promotes fat burning. However, this seems to affect lean people more. In one study, coffee increased fat burning by 29% for lean women, but only 10% for obese women. Coffee’s effects on metabolism and fat burning may also contribute to successful weight loss and maintenance.




10. Stop Dieting Year Round


Long-term dieting can adversely impact your metabolism, because it causes your body to begin conserving energy, which then depresses your metabolism. It’s been shown that long-term dieting negatively effects your total daily energy expenditure by reducing the number of calories you burn per day. For every week you diet, aim to spend at least as many weeks off your diet. This will help provide adequate time for your metabolism to be restored to pre-diet levels and allow ample time to increase muscle mass. Ideally, the longer you can spend away from a calorie deficit, the better the impact you’ll have on muscle mass, and ultimately your metabolism.



Making small lifestyle changes and incorporating these tips into your routine can increase your metabolism. Having a higher metabolism can help you lose weight and keep it off, while also giving you more energy



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