How to Boost Your Metabolism

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2023

Metabolism is the process by which your body converts the food you eat into energy. Having a faster metabolism means your body burns more calories, even when you are at rest. Your age, gender, muscle mass, and activity level all influence your metabolism. But there are several ways to give it a natural boost.1

Coupled with a healthy diet and exercise, doing certain things to boost your metabolism can help you reach your weight loss goals. But first, it may be helpful to understand how your metabolism works.1

How the metabolism works

Metabolism involves a series of chemical processes that occur in the body to break down nutrients in food and release energy. The body then uses this energy for various automatic functions, such as:1

  • Breathing
  • Circulating blood
  • Digesting food
  • Growing and repairing cells
  • Maintaining body temperature
  • Regulating hormone levels

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy the body uses to function while it is at rest. BMR accounts for the majority of the calories you burn each day. On the other hand, total metabolic rate takes into account any energy used during physical activity.1

What influences metabolism?

A lot of things can affect metabolism, and they vary from person to person. This is due to several factors.1

Muscle mass

Muscle tissue is metabolically active. This means that muscle burns more calories than fat, even at rest. So, the more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be.1

Age

As you age, your metabolism decreases. This natural decline is mostly due to a decrease in muscle mass.1

Gender

Gender also affects metabolism. In general, men have a higher metabolic rate than women. This is because they generally have more muscle and a higher level of testosterone. That said, each person’s metabolic rate is unique. And your lifestyle choices play a big role in your metabolic rate.1

Genes

The genes you inherit from your parents impact your metabolism. For example, you might be a person who builds muscle easily. Or you may struggle to build muscle mass. This is likely because of your genes.1,2

Activity level

Activity level is crucial when it comes to revving up the metabolism. Your body burns calories during exercise. But it also burns calories for a couple of hours after you have finished working out. Getting regular physical activity maximizes the amount of calories your body can burn.1,2

Metabolism disorders

Certain medical conditions can slow down a person’s metabolism. They can also contribute to obesity. Conditions that can affect metabolism and cause weight gain include:1,3

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cushing's syndrome
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Ways to boost your metabolism

There are several lifestyle changes you can make to boost your metabolism.

1. Get (and stay) active

Engaging in regular physical activity is key to boosting your metabolism. Aim for 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises. That might include brisk walking, running, or cycling. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, which involve short bursts of intense exercise, are also great for boosting metabolism.1,2

2. Do more strength training

If possible, add strength training exercises into your fitness routine at least 2 to 3 times a week. Strength training exercises that target major muscle groups can help increase muscle mass and rev up your metabolism. Examples of these exercises include squats, lunges, and bench presses. Focus on exercises that target multiple muscle groups at the same time for maximum impact.1,2

3. Add more protein to your diet

Protein requires more energy to digest than fats or carbohydrates do. Adding lean protein like poultry, fish, beans, and tofu into your meals can help you preserve muscle mass.1,2

4. Do not skip meals

Long gaps between meals can slow down your metabolic rate. Instead, try eating smaller, well-balanced meals throughout the day to help keep your metabolism active.1,2

5. Eat a healthy diet

Eat a diet that focuses on whole, unprocessed foods. This helps fuel your body to operate more efficiently. A nutritionist or dietitian can help you make a healthy eating plan that works for you. But in general, it is ideal to fill up on:1

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Lean protein
  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy fats

6. Drink green tea

Green tea contains a special compound that may help burn more calories and fat. Studies have shown that it may help boost the metabolism by burning up to 100 more calories each day.2

7. Get enough sleep

Sleep does not necessarily boost metabolism. But studies have shown that getting too little sleep can lead to weight gain. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.4

8. Manage stress

Chronic stress can lead to hormonal imbalances that can have a negative effect on metabolism. Activities like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises can help keep stress levels in check.5,6

Small changes can make a big difference

While you cannot control your age, gender, or genes, you can control your activity level, diet, and other lifestyle habits. Remember, small changes can make a big difference. Start following these tips today for a more efficient metabolism and better overall health.

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