Do your goals include weight loss or better energy levels? It might be time to focus on your metabolism.
Whether your metabolism is naturally slow or fast, credible research proves that you can take effective steps to speed it up. Yes – you read that right!
Plus, getting a healthy metabolism might be more important than you realize. It turns out that a faulty metabolism can raise your risk of obesity and chronic disease.
We dug into the science, and we’re sharing 7 safe, sustainable ways you can boost metabolism naturally and steer clear of metabolic problems. But first, let’s get started with a primer on what your metabolism actually is.
How Your Metabolism Works
What does “metabolism” really mean, anyway? Metabolism is shorthand for all of your body’s energy requirements, as well as all the processes that use or create energy, such as:
- Converting food you eat into cellular energy.
- Repairing and rebuilding your tissues using protein and fats.
- Eliminating cellular waste.
In other words, your metabolism isn’t just about your weight–it’s about staying alive!
While it’s tricky to get an exact measurement of these processes, calories are one way to estimate your daily energy needs. Your body uses calories in four main ways.
- Basal metabolic rate: the number of calories your organs use each day to sustain basic life functions.
- The thermic effect of food: calories you spend digesting meals, around 10% of your overall caloric intake.
- The thermic effect of exercise: these calories are consumed during exercise or other physical activity.
- Non-exercise activity thermogenesis: the calories you burn sitting, standing, walking, doing dishes, and during other non-exercise tasks.
As you can see, a healthy metabolism is vital for your wellness and wellbeing. A slow metabolism, or metabolic issues like insulin resistance, can contribute to fatigue, obesity, and heart problems, and even increase your risk of cancer. (1)(2)(3)
Top 7 Natural Ways to Boost Your Metabolism Today
1. Strength Train
If you want to boost your metabolism, strength training is your friend. Whether you lift weights or use machines, anything that helps your body build muscle is a fantastic tool for a healthier metabolism.
A study of older women found that resistance training three times per week increased their resting metabolism by 9%, increased fat-burning, and decreased their dependence on carbs. (4) It’s like a triple threat!
Looking to shed some fat? Strength training can help you maintain lean muscle mass while you burn off the fluff. (5)(6) By retaining more muscle, you can continue to burn plenty of calories instead of hitting a “wall” before you achieve your target weight.
You don’t need to become a gym rat or go to the gym every day. Three times each week is ideal for strength training, but even one or two weekly sessions are far better than none.
2. Try HIIT and Other Interval Training
Many people have been turning to interval training as another way to burn fat. During interval training, you alternate between faster and slower movements. Compared to steady-state cardio exercise, it has a dramatic impact on your metabolism after you exercise.
So while you may burn more calories while running for thirty minutes compared to fifteen minutes of sprint-walk intervals, interval training can make up the difference because it speeds up your metabolism for the rest of the day. (7) Yup, even while you’re sitting on the sofa.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one way to do intervals, that typically involves 10-20 seconds of max effort and 30-60 seconds of active rest. If you’re new to this type of interval training, you can also experiment with different (easier) intervals for similar benefits. We have a sample schedule for you below that’s a good place to start.
You can choose any combination of hard and easy movements, but to avoid injuries, don’t use technical moves that require precise form. Think sprinting/walking, hard/easy resistance on a bike, rowing machine or stair-climber, or kettlebell swings paired with walking or an exercise bike.
If you’re short on time but still want to burn calories and crank up your metabolism efficiently, HIIT and other intervals are a valuable addition to your regimen.
3. Eat More Protein
As we mentioned earlier, 10% of your metabolism is devoted to digesting food. One of the easiest ways to boost your metabolism is by eating more protein, because it “costs” more calories to digest compared to carbs or fat.
In a study of obese women, doubling the protein content of a meal increased their fat-burning metabolism by two-fold for a full six hours after they ate. (8)
And while any protein source will speed up your metabolism, whey protein works especially well. In a study of overweight adults, 30 grams of whey protein boosted their metabolism by 13%, and 50 grams increased it by 18%. In that study, casein protein wasn’t as effective as whey. (9)
To harness the thermic effect of protein, try eating 30% of your calories from protein. If you would rather not track all your macros, aim for at least 30-50 grams of protein at each meal.
4. Use Intermittent Fasting
Raise your hand if you’ve been led to believe that skipping meals slows your metabolism. You’re not alone! But it’s not quite true. It’s calorie restriction (not eating enough calories) that can hurt your metabolism. Skipping meals is an entirely different animal. (10)
Unlike severe calorie restriction–which can slow your metabolism over time–fasting depletes your glycogen stores and lowers your insulin levels. (11) As a result, you burn more fat during zero-calorie periods, which are followed by a filling meal that balances out your hormone levels. (12)
Essentially, fasting lets you have the best of both worlds. By depriving yourself of food temporarily, you get all the benefits of calorie restriction with none of the downsides. It’s the best way to create a caloric deficit without crashing or feeling hungry all the time!
5. Spend Time Standing and Moving
One of the simplest ways to boost your metabolism is by adjusting the ways you habitually move and hold your body. Sitting and lounging around takes virtually no energy, but you can up your calorie burn by standing and moving more.
The calories you use during everyday activities are called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Here’s how to get more NEAT in your life:
- Try a standing desk or an exercise ball instead of a desk chair.
- Take regular breaks at work to stretch or go for a short walk.
- Park farther away.
- Carry your groceries.
- Take the stairs.
- Do your own chores.
According to scientific research, these simple changes can increase your daily calorie expenditure by over 1000 calories and may even reduce your risk of premature death! (13)
As opposed to strength training or aerobic exercise, you don’t have to set aside time for NEAT. It’s easy, convenient, and improves your health measurably.
6. Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep deprivation takes a serious toll on your mental and physical health. It’s also a critical component of weight management.
That’s because lack of sleep can slow your metabolism, impair fat-burning, and cause you to lose lean muscle. (14)(15) Research links insufficient sleep to increased hunger and a higher risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. (16) Yikes!
If you’re sleep-deprived, research shows that napping and sleeping longer can reverse these metabolic effects–provided you’re consistent. (17) Fortunately, you can sleep longer and more deeply with just a few simple changes to your routine.
7. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is essential for your overall health, and it’s also necessary for a healthy metabolism. If you’re dehydrated, your cells have difficulty using energy. (18)
The good news: drinking water between meals helps your body’s ability to burn more fat. (19)
8. Drink Tea
Last but not least, drinking green tea and other varieties of Camellia sinensis is a super-simple way to get a much-needed metabolic boost.
- Catechins like EGCG have thermogenic effects in your body, meaning they increase how many calories you burn. (24)
- Caffeine and other xanthines in green tea work together with EGCG to speed up your metabolism. (25)
- Natural compounds in tea also increase your brown adipose tissue, a special type of fat that burns extra calories and helps you tolerate cold temperatures. (26)(27)
According to one study, drinking four cups of green tea daily for 12 weeks helped people with low activity levels slim their waists and lose weight. (28)
Your metabolism determines how many calories you burn each day, but it’s also a major factor in your health, energy levels, weight control and quality of life.
To amp up your metabolism, mix and match the tips from this article. By combining different strategies, you can achieve a dramatic overall increase in a wide range of health benefits.
And remember: while having a fast metabolism makes it easier to lose weight, having a healthy metabolism is also the key to staying slim and disease-free for life!
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