The higher our metabolic rate, the more calories we burn. Our metabolic rate depends on many factors like age, gender, weight, physical activity, and genetics. So, how to boost metabolism? While we can’t change our age, gender and genetics, there are several ways through which we can boost our metabolism. Some of the ways to speed up metabolism are having a protein-rich diet, consume healthy fats, building muscle, drinking black coffee and green tea, etc.
Let’s see how to boost metabolism through natural ways in detail.
How to speed up metabolism?
The chemical reactions that take place in our body that are vital for keeping us alive are called metabolism. It is the process through which food is converted into energy to provide fuel to our cells.
1. Build muscle
Our body burns calories, even when we are doing nothing. This is known as the resting metabolic rate. The resting metabolic rate is much higher in people who have more muscles.
Lifting weights can help increase your resting metabolic rate as it builds lean muscle, which burns more calories than fat. Resistance training in the form of lifting weights or body resistance exercises is a great way to strengthen muscles and lose weight (1).
According to estimates, one pound of muscle burns six calories a day when at rest. This is three times the number of calories that one pound of fat burns.
According to research, women start to lose muscle mass after the age of 30, and this leads to a slower metabolism. With strength training, women can maintain their metabolism as they age.
2. Do high-intensity interval training
High-intensity interval training involves intense bursts of activities and short periods of rest. This type of training helps jump-start the metabolism much better than regular exercise.
When you do such an intense burst of exercise like running, cycling and training, your body continue to burn more calories even after the workout is over (2).
Though our metabolism slows down as we age, we can reverse this slowdown if we stay active. According to a 2001 study, there is no significant difference in the resting metabolic rate of young men and physically active older men (3).
HIIT also helps you burn more fats (4). According to a 12-week study, HIIT in obese young men helped reduce fat mass by 2 kg and belly fat by 17 percent.
Another advantage of HIIT is that it requires less time than conventional workouts and is far more effective in burning calories and boosting metabolism.
3. Stop dieting and eat healthily
Extreme dieting can make your metabolism sluggish. When you exercise well, but your calorie intake is deficient, your body goes into the starvation mode.
This mode causes hormonal and cellular changes in the body which drives up your hunger and thirst, slows down your muscle growth and fat burning abilities.
One must consume enough calories from different sources of food to maintain energy levels. When you eat enough, you feel energized, less fatigued, motivated and are more likely to follow an exercise routine (5).
One way of ensuring that you do not have a slow metabolism is to eat regularly all through the day. Do not skip breakfast to cut calories. Have healthy meals and snacks to keep your energy, blood sugar and hunger levels stable.
4. Have a protein-rich diet
When you eat food, your metabolic levels rise for a few hours. This is because our body requires extra calories to digest and process the nutrients of the meal. This is known as the thermic effect of food.
Of all the food groups, the thermic effect (TEF) of protein is the highest. Proteins can increase TEF by 15 to 30 percent, as compared to 5 to 10 percent for carbohydrates and 0 to 3 percent for fats (6).
Eating food rich in proteins also helps you feel fuller for longer and prevents overeating (7).
According to a 2001 study, when dietary protein is increased from 15 to 30 percent, it can decrease the calorie intake by almost 441 calories per day (8).
A high protein diet also prevents the drop in metabolism which occurs when you lose muscle along with fats when you follow an extreme diet.
Having a high protein breakfast boosts energy levels and keeps you more active through the day.
Dehydration can slow down metabolism. Our bodies need water to process calories. So when we drink water, it speeds up our metabolism.
According to a 2007 study, drinking 500 ml of water can increase energy expenditure by 24 percent for up to an hour (9).
The calorie expenditure is even more when we drink cold water as our body spends more energy to heat up this water and bring it up to the body temperature (10).
Experts also recommend drinking a glass of water before every meal or snack as it fills you up and thus you eat less. During a study on overweight adults, researchers discovered that drinking 500 ml of water before each meal leads to more significant weight loss (11).
6. Spice up your meals
Peppers have capsaicin, a substance that can kick your metabolism into high gear.
According to a study, eating peppers can burn ten extra calories per meal (12). The effect may be small and temporary, but the benefits can add up over time. You can add chopped red or green chili to your food or spice it up with chili flakes.
Foods such as hot sauce, salsa, wasabi and hot mustard can boost your metabolism for hours after you have finished your meal.
7. Drink black coffee
When you drink coffee, your blood pressure rises, and the central nervous system goes into high gear. The body burns extra calories to meet these energy needs, and thus it helps in boosting metabolism.
According to a study, a single dose of coffee (100 mg) can boost metabolism by 3 to 4 percent (13). This effect is more in lean people as compared to obese people.
According to another study, drinking coffee improved fat burning by 29 percent in slim women as compared to just 10 percent in obese women (14).
8. Drink white, green tea or oolong tea
White, green tea and oolong tea come from the same Camellia sinensis plant. While white tea is made from the youngest shoots of the plant, the leaves of the green tea are allowed to wither a bit, and oolong tea undergoes partial oxidation.
According to studies, drinking white, green or oolong tea can improve metabolism by 4 to 5 percent (15). Since they are low in calories, these teas are also excellent for weight loss.
Thanks to their metabolism boosting properties, drinking these teas may help prevent the weight loss plateaus that occur during diets.
9. Sleep well and rest
Our body tries to conserve energy when it is fatigued, and this slows down the metabolism. When we do not rest between exercise days, our body loses muscle, and the metabolism slows down.
Lack of rest and inadequate sleep raises the level of cortisol in the body, and this leads the body to store more fat. It also boosts the hunger hormone ghrelin and decreases the fullness hormone leptin. Aim to sleep at least eight hours a day to give your metabolism a boost.
10. Avoid inflammatory foods
Our body considers processed foods and sugary drinks as toxins, and this triggers the immune system. It also increases the stress hormone production and slows down the metabolism. These inflammatory foods slow down the digestive system and increase free-radical damage.
Avoid drinking sodas and juices. Processed foods that contain gluten like white bread, pasta, cereals, chips, desserts should also be avoided. Refined vegetable oils and low-quality animal products also slow down the metabolism. Even foods with artificial sweeteners should be avoided.
Ditch saturated fats and opt for medium chain fats instead. Researchers have found that medium chain fats like coconut oil help boost metabolism by 12 percent as compared to long chain fats that raise it by just 4 percent (18).
Coconut oil is much healthier than other fats as it seems to promote a reduction in abdominal obesity.
You must avoid saturated fats and trans fats as they slow down metabolism. Foods like red meat, butter, whole dairy products, hydrogenated oil, and shortening contain these unhealthy fats.
12. Stand more and sit less
We spend seven to eight hours asleep during the night. In the morning too most of our time is spent sitting at our desks and working. This sedentary lifestyle is awful for health (19).
You can burn more calories just by standing more and sitting less. According to a British study, standing at work can burn 50 calories more per hour than sitting.
13. Don’t stress
When we have stressed out, our bodies take longer to process the calories that we eat. According to a study done at the Ohio State University, women who were stressed out over a 24 hour period burned 104 fewer calories on an average. This can lead to a weight gain of 11 pounds over a year.
Stress activates the cortisol hormone, which slows down metabolism and increases the risk of obesity. So, to boost your metabolism, try and keep the pressure at bay and relax more.
Over to you on how to boost metabolism
You don’t have to be stuck with a slow metabolism. Follow these few simple tips to boost your metabolism and watch your fat melt away.