Metabolism refers to all the chemical reactions that happen in your body that maintain your cells, tissues, and organs. One of the jobs of your metabolism is converting your food into energy – a process that involves combining calories with oxygen to turn them into a type of energy that your body can use. The processes involved in metabolism never stop. Even when you aren’t doing anything, your body needs energy to perform all sorts of processes, including breathing, blood circulation, growing cells, and many more.
The higher your metabolic rate the more calories your body needs to carry out these functions, and, as we know, burning calories in the right way can lead to burning fat; and if you have a high metabolism it will be easier for you to keep the fat off. This article looks at how to boost your metabolism naturally to help burn fat and lose weight without the need to crash diet.
What’s Your Resting Metabolic Rate And What Determines It?
The number of calories your body needs to carry out every day bodily functions is known as your “resting metabolic rate”. It is this that most people refer to when they talk about having a high or low metabolism.
Your resting metabolic rate is mainly determined by your genetics. Men tend to have a higher metabolic rate than women, and bigger people have a higher metabolic rate than smaller people. The older you get, the slower your metabolic rate becomes which is why it can be harder to keep the weight off as you get older. There are also medical conditions that can cause your metabolic rate to become slower, such as Cushing’s disease and an underactive thyroid.
Ten Ways To Boost Your Metabolism
There are, however, some things you can do to boost your metabolic rate and help you to lose fat. You might be wondering how to boost your metabolism naturally, so here are ten ways to do just that:
1. Eat lots of protein
One of the processes in your body that needs energy is digestion. Whenever you eat food, your body uses calories to digest it. This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). Protein causes the largest rise in TEF, so if you eat protein it will give your metabolism a temporary boost.
2. Build some muscle
Resting metabolic rate is higher in people with more muscle mass. This is because muscles need more calories to maintain them than fat. Each pound of muscle uses around six calories per day compared to one calorie for each pound of fat. This difference may seem small, but it does build up over time. I’ve covered more on this subject in a previous article, so feel free to take a look.
As well as this, after strength training, your metabolic rate remains high for an hour or so, which will help to burn extra calories. This is known as the afterburn.
3. Take part in aerobic exercise
Aerobic exercise will also produce an afterburn effect which will raise your metabolic rate and burn calories even after you stop exercising. High-intensity interval training or HIIT will give you the biggest metabolic boost compared to low or medium intensity exercise.
4. Drink cold water
Drinking water temporarily speeds up the metabolic rate by 10-30% for approximately an hour. This rate is even higher if the water is cold because the body needs to use calories to warm the water up to body temperature.
5. Snack regularly
Snacking regularly rather than eating just a couple of large meals will help to raise your metabolism. If you eat a large meal and then nothing for three to four hours, your metabolic rate will slow down. Instead, eating smaller meals every couple of hours will keep your metabolism at a higher rate throughout the day.
6. Eat spicy food
Spicy food contains chemicals such as capsaicin that give the metabolism a temporary boost. Adding some red or green chilies to your meal will help to raise your metabolism.
7. Drink coffee or green tea
Coffee causes a temporary rise in the metabolic rate. This is because coffee contains a variety of stimulants. Mainly caffeine, but also small amounts of theobromine, and theophylline. Together, these stimulants will give your metabolism a boost. Green tea also contains caffeine and it also has high levels of catechins. Both of these are stimulants that will raise your metabolic rate.
Both of these drinks will also make you more energetic which will mean that you will be able to exercise for longer and with more intensity. This will help to raise your metabolism even more.
Energy drinks also contain caffeine and can raise your metabolism, but they can lead to health problems because of the excessive amounts of caffeine and sugar they contain, so try and limit these, or avoid taking them altogether if you can.
Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep deprivation doesn’t only make you feel awful, it also lowers your metabolic rate. This means that if you are sleep deprived for a long time it could make it more difficult for you to lose fat.
Feeling fatigued from not getting enough sleep will also make it more difficult for you to stay active, and staying active is key to keeping your metabolism high.
9. Avoid crash diets
While it might be tempting to start a crash diet, or to severely limit your calories, when you are trying to get rid of fat this might actually be counter-productive. These types of diets will slow your metabolism down, which will mean that your body will use fewer calories.
They can also make you lose muscle mass and because more muscle mass increases your metabolism, this will further lower it. It is far better to keep to a healthy diet and stay active if you want to lose fat and maintain it.
10. Take metabolism-boosting supplements
We have already explored some dietary nutrients that can help to speed up your metabolism. If you want to make sure that you have as many of these metabolism-boosting compounds as possible, then a supplement could be right for you.
Supplements that can be used to speed up your metabolism generally contain a combination of things, including caffeine, capsaicin, L-carnitine, chromium picolinate, conjugated linoleic acid, green tea, and resveratrol. I’ve covered fat burning supplements off before in a previous article including what to look for and what to avoid.
Don’t Just Resign Yourself To Genetics!
Although we generally have to resign ourselves to what nature gave us in terms of our genetics, as is the case with the speed of our metabolism, there are things you can do to increase it and tip your body into fat burning mode, and these are as simple as making some lifestyle and dietary changes.
The higher your metabolic rate, the more calories your body will burn, even when you are doing nothing, so if you are wondering how to boost your metabolism, take a note of the points above and start to implement them into your diet. Combine this with good overall nutrition and exercise and you’ll be priming your body to burn fat rather than hold onto it. for more tips on how to burn fat, take a look at the Fat Burning section on this website which includes articles on eating at a calorie deficit, exercise and supplementation.
Do you struggle with a low metabolism and therefore find it hard to lose weight? Or perhaps you’re the opposite and you have a naturally high metabolism and struggle to gain weight? We’re all different and losing weight (burning fat) and gaining weight (muscle and strength) can be challenging. If you need guidance in either area, check out more of my articles on this site, or drop me a line – either in the comments below or via the contact page and I’ll be happy to help you out.