6 Science-Backed Tips to Boost Your Metabolism

Boosting your metabolism is essential to a healthy lifestyle. It can benefit you by giving you more energy to improve your physical fitness. Your metabolism helps you breathe, think, digest, circulate blood, regulate body temperature, and repair cells, so it's crucial to ensure your body has the energy it needs to get through the day.

Key takeaways:

Fortunately, there are several ways to naturally boost your metabolism, including physical activity, consuming thermogenic foods, and even getting your caffeine fix.

if you want to increase your energy and jumpstart your weight-loss journey, try these six tips.

1. Increase your physical activity

It's no secret that increasing your physical activity levels will boost your metabolism. The more you move, the more energy you use, resulting in expending more calories. While both cardio and strength training burn calories and increase your metabolism, with cardio, you burn calories throughout the duration of your workout. With strength training, on the other hand, your body will continue to burn calories for hours after you've finished your workout.

Many individuals are often wary of strength training, afraid of becoming "bulky" from lifting weights. In truth, it's a vital part of living a healthy lifestyle and can help burn fat while building muscle simultaneously. One study followed 13 healthy men (aged 50-65) who participated in a 16-week strength training program. Over the trial, strength levels increased by 40%, body fat decreased, fat-free mass (FFM) rose, and resting metabolic rate (RMR) increased by 7.7%

The CDC recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week and two days of strength training activity.

2. Don’t skip meals

Many believe skipping meals can lead to weight loss due to the restriction of calories, but in reality, it's doing your body more harm than good. When you skip meals, your blood sugar decreases, causing you to feel irritable, confused, and fatigued. Your body thinks it's starving, so as a result, it goes into survival mode, holding onto fat to ration for energy later, while lean muscle tissue is the first to burn. Lean muscle also increases your resting metabolic rate (RMR), so you lose lean muscle and burn fewer calories simultaneously by restricting food.

Not only does skipping meals slow down your RMR, but it can easily cause you to overeat at your next meal. When you're famished and finally get the chance to eat, you're much more likely to eat whatever's in front of you, regardless of its nutritional value (and more likely to overeat, too). Researchers looked at food intake data for adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They found that while calories were reduced when skipping meals, the quality of these individuals' diets decreased between 2.6% and 4.3%. Through all three meals, the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) was reduced in all categories, including fruits, vegetables, animal and plant proteins, whole grains, and dairy.

3. Get your caffeine fix

Often seen in weight loss supplements, caffeine plays a vital role in helping individuals lose weight, as it has been found to aid in fat burning and increase energy for optimal exercise performance. Both coffee and green tea are loaded with antioxidants, specifically epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is known for boosting metabolism. ECGC helps process the enzyme catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), which breaks down the hormone norepinephrine. Once this is done, the process of fat breakdown can begin.

In addition, caffeine consumed in regular doses has been shown to have a significant increase in energy. For example, single-dose servings of 100 mg caffeine were given to lean and (post) obese individuals, resulting in an increase in the resting metabolic rate of 3-4%. On the other hand, administering the same amount every two hours for 12 hours showed an even more significant increase of 8-11%.

4. Get a good night's sleep

Many focus solely on diet and exercise for slow metabolism and weight gain, but there are many other important factors. Over the years, scientists have discovered how important getting a good night's sleep is for individuals while fighting with the economy's non-stop clock. For approximately 30% of adults, sleeping less than 6 hours per night is the norm.

During sleep, your metabolism decreases by 15%, reaching its lowest levels in the morning. Poor sleep (associated with oxidative stress, glucose, and other factors) further decreases your metabolism, making you more likely to gain weight or make the weight more difficult to lose. Sleep deprivation can also cause you to feel too tired to exercise and choose quick foods that are often processed and not nourishing for your body.

5. Drink more water

Drinking water isn't just for keeping you hydrated — it's one of the best tactics to increase your metabolism and give you more energy. Research has found that consuming just 500 mL of water can increase your metabolism by up to 30%. When you drink a glass of water, it stimulates thermogenesis, which signals the body to produce heat and regulate the body back to its normal temperature. As a result, the more energy it takes to rewarm the body, your metabolism will increase. The metabolic increase takes effect approximately 10 minutes post-consumption and reaches its maximum rate after 30–40 minutes.

6. Eat high thermic foods

The thermic effect of food (TEF) is an important aspect of a healthy metabolism. TEF refers to the amount of energy it takes to digest, absorb, and metabolize your food. TEF, on its own, takes approximately 10% of your total daily energy expenditure. More specifically, protein holds the highest thermic effect at 20–30% (compared to carbohydrates at 5–10% and fat at 0–3%). This results from the high amount of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) used in the post-meal period during the process of metabolizing and storing protein in the body.

A few protein-rich foods that will help your metabolism:

  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds

In addition to a protein having a high TEF, many turn to spicy foods to boost their metabolism. The main ingredient in spicy foods (like red peppers) is capsaicin, which increases your heart rate and produces extra heat in the body, increasing energy expenditure and enhancing fat oxidation (especially when consumed in high doses). As a result, it shows a significant thermal effect. So adding some chili pepper and high protein to your next meal will increase your metabolism and help induce satiety and reduce your caloric intake.

While these tips can boost your metabolism and jumpstart your weight-loss journey, these actions alone won't make a significant enough difference to show dramatic weight-loss results. If you want more powerful results, following a healthy diet with various food groups while following portion control is essential not to overeat and ensure you're getting the nutrients you need. It's also important to look at other (often forgotten) factors, such as managing stress and maintaining healthy habits once they're set. With all of these tips, your metabolism will significantly improve, and maintaining healthy daily habits will set you up for a lifetime of success.

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