How to Boost Your Metabolism: A Helpful Guide

How to Boost Your Metabolism: A Helpful Guide

Scientifically reviewed by: Michael A. Smith, MD

Your metabolism is the process that turns the foods you eat into fuel and provides energy for just about everything you do – from breathing to eating. Even while you are sitting reading this article, your body is using energy.

If you're trying to lose weight, maybe you're wondering how to boost your metabolism, so you can burn more calories than you take in. Unfortunately, cranking up your body's fat burning machine is not as simple as flipping a switch. There are different factors that go into making your metabolism what is: gender, age, body type and height are all things you have no control over.

Luckily, though, you can give your metabolism a forcible "nudge" with some healthy habits and lifestyle changes.

Are there foods that help increase your metabolism?

Protein-rich bento box with healthy options

Did you know that you can fill up your plate with fresh, healthy foods and burn calories in the process? Contrary to those who believe eating as little as possible is the best way to lose weight, choosing the right foods actually is a better way to stave off unwanted fat and prevent the number on the scale from going up.

So what metabolism-boosting foods should you be adding to your grocery list?

  • Pile your plate with protein.

    Protein-rich foods like meat, fish, eggs, dairy, beans and nuts help increase your metabolism because they require your body to use more energy to digest them compared to carbohydrates and fats. Eating a high-protein diet helps your body maintain muscle mass while shedding fat. Protein-rich foods also help you keep full for longer periods of time—leading to less fridge foraging and fewer snack attacks!
  • Spice up your life.

    Looking for big metabolism-boosting benefits? Turn to a little chili pepper. A natural chemical found in chili peppers, capsaicin, helps to slowly boost your metabolism by increasing the rate by which your body burns calories. In fact, incorporating capsaicin (either from a chili pepper or extract) could help your body burn up to 50 extra calories each day. Ginger also is a great metabolism booster; drinking hot water with ginger also acts as a natural appetite suppressant and may decrease hunger so you full feel longer.
  • Kickstart your metabolism with coffee.

    Ahhh, there is nothing like a fresh cup of joe to start your day and energize you for work, play or anything that the day throws your way. But, did you know that the caffeine found in coffee not only helps boost your energy levels, but also revs your metabolism? For those coffee lovers out there, sipping on at least three cups throughout the day of coffee has been shown to boost your metabolism and burn up to 100 extra calories throughout the day. Not a fan of java? Green tea also has metabolism-boosting properties!
  • Get a metabolic boost from bean and legumes.

    Legumes and beans, like lentils, chickpeas and black beans, are high protein, plant-based foods that help boost metabolism. White kidney bean extract also provides a great addition to help burn belly fat and suppress appetite. Legumes are also a high-fiber food, which may help your body use stored fat as energy and maintain blood sugar levels within a normal range, while keeping you fuller for longer.
  • Give ACV a try.

    Apple cider vinegar may help naturally increase your metabolism by promoting a feeling of fullness after you eat and in between meals. You also can get creative in the kitchen and incorporate ACV into a dressing to mix with your favorite healthy salad, or dilute it into a cup of water—but don't exceed 1-2 tablespoons a day.

While these foods can be a helpful tool to support your weight management goals, they won't save you from a couch potato lifestyle, or eating those white kidney beans with a whole loaf of cornbread. To keep your metabolism humming, make sure that you are also getting daily exercise, increasing intake of metabolic boosting nutrients, getting enough rest, and staying hydrated throughout the day.

How can you increase your metabolism rate permanently?

A group of women taking a HIIT class to increase metabolisim

Your plate is now packed with healthy foods that boost your metabolism. Now what? While there is no quick fix to obtain a faster metabolism, there are lifestyle changes you can make each day that will help increase your metabolism and allow you to burn more calories throughout the day.

  • Drink H2O—and give sugary drinks the heave-ho!

    Let's start with the obvious: sugary drinks are filled with empty calories, so replacing a cola with a glass of water automatically reduces your calorie intake (and the calories you ultimately need to burn off). Beyond that, however, drinking water has been shown to increase your metabolism up to 24-30% for about an hour and could have a greater impact if the water you drink is cold as your body uses stored energy to bring it up to body temperature.

    Water also fills you up and acts as a natural appetite suppressant. Make sure to drink water at least half an hour prior to eating so you don't mistake thirst for hunger!

  • Get active.

    While any kind of activity is beneficial, if you want to increase your metabolism through workouts, elevating your heart rate and recovering quickly is key. Try high intensity interval training (also known as HIIT), which involves quick and intense bursts of energy that not only burn more fat by increasing your metabolic rate during the class, but also keep burning fat once the class is over.

    If HIIT classes aren't your thing, simply going to the gym and lifting weights for at least 30 minutes each day will drastically improve your metabolism. Lifting weights is extremely important—not only for building muscle, but also for retaining it. With the right exercise and diet, you can gain more muscle while still losing fat Ultimately, higher amounts of muscle will yield in a higher metabolism.

    Of course, while exercise is essential, what you do when you're not engaged in an "official" workout is also important. Take the stairs instead of the elevator; take short walk breaks. Got a desk job? Schedule in time every hour to stand up and stretch.

  • Sleep soundly.

    Are you getting full 8 hours of restful, uninterrupted sleep each evening? Lack of quality sleep can impact your metabolism by decreasing the amount of calories burned throughout the day, changing the way your body processes glucose, and increasing your appetite. If you find yourself tossing and turning without a wink of shut eye, incorporate these tips and tricks into your nighttime routine.

Metabolism testing: What is a comprehensive metabolic panel?

Doctor speaking with a patient about metabolisim testing

If you're concerned that your metabolism isn't as fast as it should be, perhaps you're considering asking your doctor for a comprehensive metabolic panel. This blood test does report upon many important health markers, including your blood sugar (also known as glucose) and electrolytes, kidney function and liver health. This data is key when it comes to identifying many potential health concerns—that's why your primary care physician usually recommends a comprehensive metabolic panel as part of a yearly health examination.

If you're mainly concerned with your ability to lose weight at a normal rate, a more precise test is a Comprehensive Weight Loss Panel. This test will look at your thyroid and sex hormones, cortisol levels, and other factors that may be influencing your metabolism.

 

References

  • Helms, Eric R. "A systematic review of dietary protein during caloric restriction in resistance trained athletes: a case for higher intakes" October 2013
  • Khezri, Soladeh. "Beneficial effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on weight management, Visceral Adiposity Index and lipid profile in overweight or obese subjects receiving calorie restricted diet: A randomized clinical trial" April 2018
  • Brown, Clive M. "Water-induced thermogenesis reconsidered: the effects of osmolality and water temperature on energy expenditure after drinking." J Clin Endocrinol Metab., September 2006, Water-induced thermogenesis reconsidered: the effects of osmolality and water temperature on energy expenditure after drinking
  • Hursel, R et al. "The effects of catechin rich teas and caffeine on energy expenditure and fat oxidation: a meta-analysis." Obes Rev., March 2011, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21366839/
  • Whiting, Stephen et al. "Capsaicinoids and capsinoids. A potential role for weight management? A systematic review of the evidence." Appetite, May 2012, http://www.krosslabs.com/articles/capsicum.pdf