5 Ways To Naturally Boost Your Metabolism
For those struggling to lose weight, the idea of boosting your metabolism is appealing.
And that’s thanks to the misconception that boosting your metabolism equates to burning fat.
Boosting your metabolism is appealing for many reasons, and it is possible. But it’s not necessarily about revving up your body’s calorie-burning potential so you can “burn” fat. And it’s definitely not about detox teas, or pills that help melt fat.
The term “metabolism” actually encompasses all the chemical reactions in your body that help keep you alive and functioning. Metabolic rate — the number of calories you burn in a day — absolutely affects how your body stores and uses, fat, but this is just one aspect of metabolism.
Naturally boosting your metabolism simply means helping your body do what it already knows how to do! Can this equate to easier, more sustainable weight loss? Absolutely! But it can also mean better energy, fewer cravings, deeper sleep, and overall, boosted health and longevity!
Here are 5 ways you can give your metabolism some love:
Eat enough food.
Under-eating is one of the most common culprits for weight loss plateaus, and it directly affects your metabolism.
Think about it this way: your body needs a certain amount of nutrients to run the thousands of processes it carries out daily to keep you alive. Everything from digestion to hormone production to creating energy requires calories from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals.
When you aren’t providing your body with the raw materials it needs to thrive, non-essential processes (i.e. those not necessary for survival) are going to be put on the back burner so the body can conserve fuel for the most important things. Essentially, your metabolic rate will slow in order to match your nutrient intake and conserve energy.
This can mean difficulty losing weight, low energy, brain fog, always feeling cold, menstrual irregularities, sugar cravings, poor recovery from workouts, hair loss, and more.
If you’re struggling with any of these issues, it may be a good time to evaluate how much you’re eating. One simple way to know if you’re under-eating is if you feel hungry throughout the day and/or at the end of the day. Or, you can calculate your estimated Basal (or Resting) Metabolic Rate (BMR or RMR). If you’re eating below your BMR in calories daily, you’ll want to eat more food. BMR only accounts for the number of calories your body uses when its at rest like, when you’re laying on the couch.
Prioritize strength training.
Strength training helps us build muscle, and muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue. Every pound of muscle on your body burns about six calories per day at rest; each pound of fat burns roughly two calories per day. In other words, the more muscle on your body, the higher your metabolic rate. One study found that a 24-week strength training program helped increase BMR by 7%.
Strength training is important for everyone, but especially women, who tend to neglect it in their routines. As we age, building muscle becomes even more crucial as our metabolic rates naturally slow. Aim to incorporate at least 2-3 strength training workouts into your routine each week using dumbbells, resistance bands, barbells, machines, your body weight, or a combination. Working with a trainer or following a progressive strength training program is ideal so that you can ensure you’re hitting all muscle groups, increasing your weights and reps systematically, and most importantly, using the correct form.
Include HIIT in your exercise routine.
High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is an extremely effective way to support your metabolism. There are a few different interpretations, but HIIT generally means highly intense exercise for 20-60 seconds followed by a period of rest varying from 10 seconds to 2-3 minutes, and then repeating.
HIIT has been shown to help increase metabolism and the number of calories the body burns both during and after training — especially when compared to lower intensity exercise. It can also help reduce belly fat specifically, due to the positive effects it has on insulin. HIIT is also more time effective since sessions are generally 20 minutes or shorter.
Research also shows that HIIT can help us make new mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of our cells that directly support our metabolisms. Interval training helps improve how quickly mitochondria burn oxygen and calories.
To take advantage of HIIT’s effects, try adding in a few sessions per week. Sprints are one popular and fairly simple HIIT workout, but you can essentially turn any exercise into a HIIT by rotating short periods of all-out effort followed by periods of rest. Tabata and EMOM (every-minute-on-the-minute) are also great HIIT frameworks.
Eat protein at every meal.
Protein helps give your metabolism a little kick. For one, consuming protein helps us build and preserve muscle tissue . Research shows that higher-protein diets lead to greater overall weight loss, fat loss, and preservation of muscle when compared to lower-protein diets.
Eating in general increases your metabolism for a short time, but protein does this more than other macronutrients. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF),and it’s caused by the extra calories your body uses to digest, absorb, and process the nutrients in your food. Protein causes the largest rise in TEF compared to carbs and protein.
Protein is also the most satiating macronutrient, helping you feel fuller longer and decrease cravings. Prioritize quality proteins like chicken, turkey, eggs, beef, pork, lamb, fish and seafood, and a quality protein powder supplement like grass-fed beef, whey, or collagen.
Sit less often.
Research shows that sitting too much is simply not good for our bodies. It’s been found to increase the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes as well as general risk of death from all causes.
You may get to the gym for an hour every single day, but if you sit the remainder of the day, your body is still fairly inactive.
When compared to sitting, standing has been shown to increase overall calorie burn. On the other hand, sitting too much has even been found to cause muscle loss, which strongly impacts overall metabolic rate.
Just because you have a desk job doesn’t mean you have to sit all day. Take a break every half an hour just to stand for a few minutes. Walk to a coworker’s desk to chat instead of sending an email. Outside of work, walk instead of driving or taking public transportation, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and park your car farther away.