Your metabolism plays a vital role in burning fat, and it’s also essential to your body’s ability to perform functions. It’s a process that involves turning the food you eat into energy, enabling functions such as breathing, circulating blood, controlling body temperature, and digesting food. Even when you’re sleeping, your body requires energy for things like breathing and repairing cell damage.
The authors of a 2014 meta-analysis published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise noted that the number of calories you need to perform those basic functions is called your resting metabolic rate (RMR), and it can impact how much energy you have on a daily basis.
Something important to remember, though: Your metabolism may not be 100% under your control. The authors of the meta-analysis pointed out that previous studies suggest that factors like your body type, gender, and age are things that go into making your metabolism what it is.
Still, there are some healthy habits to try that may boost your metabolism. Here’s how to increase your metabolism:
1. Do Interval Training
When you run, swim, or bike, increase the intensity of your pace for 30-second intervals before returning to your normal speed after. This will help you take in more oxygen and make your mitochondria, your cell powerhouses, work harder to burn energy. A nice perk of this move: You can exercise for less time than usual and still see great results.
2. Keep Up Your Calorie Intake
Weird but true: If you slash how many calories you take in, your metabolism thinks food is scarce and slows down to try to conserve your energy and halts fat-burning to conserve energy. According to 2021 research published in the International Journal of Obesity, to keep your metabolism from slowing while trying to lose weight, you’ll want to make sure you have enough calories to at least match your RMR. You can test for your RMR at an RMR testing site near you.
3. Work Out Consistently
There’s a cool phenomenon known as excess postexercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), where your body can take time to recover from an intense workout and return to its previous resting metabolic rate. During this period, your body burns more calories than it normally would, even after you stop exercising. But the high calorie burn won’t last that long. Within an hour or so after your workout, you’ll return to your RMR.
Resistance training, also known as strength training, is also an important way to increase your strength, endurance, and metabolism. Here’s the thing: The better shape you’re in, the less benefit you’ll get because your body learns to become more efficient with time. You can try to get around that by working out more or harder.
4. Avoid Trans Fats
Trans fats aren’t just bad for your heart—they also slow down your body’s ability to burn fat. The World Health Organization says that trans fats can have a negative effect on how your body metabolizes essential macronutrients your body needs, like the lipids in your blood and fatty acids. Eating trans fat can cause insulin resistance and inflammation, and both of those can mess with your metabolism. Foods that are high in trans fats include many commercial baked goods and fried foods.
5. Fill Up on Protein
Your body takes more time to break down protein than fat or carbs, so you end up feeling fuller, longer. But protein may also give your metabolism a boost thanks to a process called thermogenesis, where your body uses about 10% of its calorie intake for digestion. Because it takes longer to burn protein than carbs or fat, your body uses more energy absorbing the nutrients in a high-protein diet.
A quick way to get in more protein: Add whey to a smoothie. Whey protein increases calorie burn and fat utilization, helps the body maintain muscle, and triggers the brain to feel full. A study published in 2016 revealed that fat oxidation, the process of breaking down fatty acids, and the thermic effect, the extra energy your body needs during digestion, were greater with whey than with soy or casein.
So, incorporating protein-rich foods into your diet, such as lean meats, fish, eggs, legumes, and dairy products, can provide a metabolic boost and contribute to overall weight management.
6. Enjoy Your Coffee
You don’t have to start drinking coffee if you don’t do so now, but you don’t need to give it up if you’re already drinking a reasonable amount. Caffeine speeds up your central nervous system, and that can boost your metabolism. Provided your cup is not laden with cream and syrup, coffee can be a great way to give you energy as well as some antioxidants.
Coffee also improves energy levels during exercise, helping you work harder, longer, and burn more calories in the process, as shown in a 2018 study. However, the boost that your metabolism gets from caffeine will be small, and you probably won’t notice any change in weight because of it.
7. Enjoy Green Tea Too
Green tea may also give your metabolism an extra boost. Research suggests that green tea may be able to help you burn more fat both when you’re resting and when you’re exercising. Unfortunately, the effects of the added fat-burning boost from green tea won’t be enough to change the numbers on the scale either.
So, incorporating green tea into your daily routine can be a healthy choice due to its potential metabolic benefits and antioxidant properties. Plus, it’s a refreshing and calorie-free beverage option.
8. Take Regular Screen Breaks
It’s good to step away from your screen on a regular basis anyway, but research in 2016 from Northwestern University found that exposure to the type of blue light given off by smartphones, computers, and tablets immediately before and after dinner made people feel hungry and impacted their glucose metabolism. The study authors weren’t sure why.
To promote a healthy metabolism, it’s important to practice mindful screen usage and take regular breaks. Use this time to stretch, move around, or engage in other activities that don’t involve screens. Taking breaks can also improve productivity and reduce eye strain.
9. Try To De-Stress
De-stressing is easier said than done, of course. Research suggests that when you’re stressed out, your metabolism stalls. There are a few possible reasons for this, but one is that chronic stress stimulates the production of betatrophin, a protein that inhibits an enzyme needed to break down fat, per a 2015 study.
To support a healthy metabolism and overall well-being, it’s important to incorporate stress management techniques into your daily routine. This can include activities like exercise, meditation, deep breathing, spending time in nature, and engaging in hobbies that you enjoy.
10. Get More Sleep
Research has found that sleep is important for regulating your metabolism. One 2019 study published in the Journal of Lipid Research found that after a few days of sleep deprivation, study participants felt less full after eating and metabolized the fat in their food differently.
While getting enough sleep isn’t exactly a boost to your metabolism, it can keep you from putting on weight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get at least seven hours of sleep a night. If you’re having a hard time hitting seven hours a night, try getting into new bedtime habits that will help you get a full night of sleep.
Establishing a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and optimizing your sleep environment can contribute to better sleep quality and duration. Avoiding caffeine and electronic devices close to bedtime, keeping your bedroom dark and quiet, and ensuring a comfortable mattress and pillows are essential for a restful night’s sleep.
Remember, maintaining a healthy metabolism is a multifaceted process that involves various lifestyle factors. While incorporating these strategies may support a slightly higher metabolic rate, it’s important to approach overall health and weight management holistically.
Your metabolism plays a crucial role in energy expenditure and weight management. While factors like age, gender, and body type influence your metabolic rate, there are several healthy habits you can adopt to potentially boost your metabolism. However, it’s important to note that the effects may be modest and individual results may vary.
Incorporating interval training, maintaining adequate calorie intake, consistent exercise, avoiding trans fats, consuming protein-rich foods, enjoying coffee and green tea in moderation, taking regular screen breaks, managing stress levels, and prioritizing sufficient sleep can contribute to a healthy metabolism and overall well-being.
Remember, a balanced approach to nutrition, regular physical activity, and mindful lifestyle choices are key to supporting a healthy metabolism and achieving your wellness goals.
- Is it possible to significantly increase my metabolism? Significantly increasing your metabolism through lifestyle changes alone is unlikely. However, adopting healthy habits like regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and sufficient sleep can support a healthy metabolic rate.
- Can certain foods or supplements boost metabolism? While some foods and supplements may have a minor impact on metabolism, their effects are generally modest. It’s best to focus on a well-rounded diet and an active lifestyle for overall metabolic health.
- Will boosting my metabolism automatically lead to weight loss? Not necessarily. A higher metabolic rate can support weight management, but it’s important to create a calorie deficit through a combination of diet and exercise for effective weight loss.
- Can stress affect my metabolism? Yes, chronic stress can negatively impact metabolism. High levels of stress can lead to hormonal imbalances and hinder metabolic processes. Implementing stress management techniques is important for overall health.
- How long does it take to see results from these metabolism-boosting habits? Individual results may vary, but it’s important to adopt these habits as part of a long-term lifestyle approach. Consistency and patience are key when it comes to seeing sustainable results.