Chances are you’ve heard the word ‘metabolism’ (even if you aren’t entirely sure what it means!).
Often considered the holy grail of weight loss and calorie burn, how to boost your metabolism is a hot topic — head to your local health food store and you’ll find countless products designed to supercharge your metabolic rate, to help you get in shape.
But what if we told you that increasing your metabolism doesn’t require any fancy kit?
And that anything from getting a few more hours sleep, to drinking coffee and eating curry could give you the boost you need?
In this quick guide, we’ll fact-check the major metabolism myths and legends. Then, we’ll dish out 10 natural metabolism boosting techniques — all of which you can easily do today.
Ready? Let’s go!
What is metabolism?
So here comes the first common metabolism misconception.
Very few people realise that metabolism has much more to do in the body than affect how much weight you lose or gain.
In fact, your metabolism is involved with the essential, everyday chemical reactions which keep you alive. In simple terms, ‘metabolism’ refers to the total process of taking food and converting it into energy, to fuel your body and mind.
Thing is, we tend to demonise our metabolism and blame it for stubborn weight retention. We’ll say things like,”I must have a really slow metabolism”. Or we look at others who lose weight easily — or miraculously keep weight off — and say, “I wish my metabolism worked as quickly as that!”.
We’ve all got that one friend who can eat nothing but burgers and have the perfect hourglass shape, right?
But before we go pinning all that on metabolism, there’s a little more of the picture to reveal...
When thinking of your body’s ability to burn calories, the term ‘metabolic rate’ is more appropriate than ‘metabolism’. But with metabolism and metabolic rate often being used to mean the same thing, mix ups can easily happen.
So let’s set things straight.
The greater your metabolic rate, the higher volume of calories you’re able to burn. A consistently high rate can not only aid in losing weight faster, it can also help you maintain your goal weight on a long-term basis.
That’s pretty straight forward, but there are many factors which affect your metabolic rate, some of which are simply beyond our control.
What factors affect metabolism?
Age has a significant role to play in metabolism levels. As we get older, our metabolic rate gradually slows due to hormonal changes. So, if you know someone who eats all the junk food they want without ever gaining weight, the phrase “it’ll catch up with them one day!” definitely has some truth to it.
Genetics and natural body size can also contribute. Those with naturally larger body types are likely to have faster metabolism — simply because more chemical reactions are needed to maintain larger organs.
Whilst we have zero power over our age or genetics, this doesn’t mean our metabolic rates can’t be improved! Read on for simple yet super effective ways to give your metabolism a little boost...
How to boost your metabolism: 10 natural metabolism-boosting techniques
1. Tone and build muscle
Strength training can be hugely beneficial for boosting metabolism, as muscle is far more metabolically active than fat. Muscle needs to burn more calories than fat to sustain itself, meaning the more muscle built, the higher your overall metabolic rate will be.
Having higher muscle mass means your body will continue burning a higher volume of calories, even during rest days!
2. Eat more protein
Generally, our bodies burn more calories digesting protein than fats and carbohydrates. Replacing some of your daily carbs with protein-rich food — like chicken, lean beef, nuts and eggs — can help support the metabolic process.
What’s more, consuming more protein can also help you eat less overall. One study found participants ate over 400 fewer calories per day when their diet consisted of at least 30% protein.
3. Spice up your life!
Many spicy foods contain a substance called capsaicin, which has been found to naturally boost metabolism. Whilst unlikely to be as effective as building muscle or eating more protein, regularly adding spice to your meals could provide metabolic benefits.
4. Drink green tea
Super low in calories, green tea is a little known metabolic booster. Linked to a reduction in obesity, green tea has often been found to help improve metabolism by up to an impressive 5% — not bad for a simple cup of tea!
5. Drink coffee
Coffee lovers rejoice! The caffeine found in your morning cuppa could seriously increase your metabolic rate — and reduce obesity — to promote long-lasting weight loss maintenance.
6. Snack better
In today’s society, we’re conditioned to want 3 big meals a day. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad routine, altering your eating habits could help speed up your metabolism long-term.
When eating big meals with large time gaps in between, your metabolism is a lot more likely to be sluggish. Instead, eating smaller meals/snacks every 3-4 hours will help keep your metabolism ticking-over at a steady rate. Think of the phrase “little and often”!
7. Drink more water
Drinking water offers many great health benefits, and boosting metabolism is one of them. Research has shown simply drinking 0.5 litres of water can improve resting metabolism by up to a huge 30%, for at least an hour.
And this could be further increased if you’re sipping on ice cold water, as your body requires energy to heat it up to normal body temperature.
8. High-intensity workouts
High-intensity exercise (HIIT) isn’t known for building muscle, but it can help you supercharge your metabolic rate, during and after the workout. maintain a higher metabolic rate for hours afterwards.
9. Stay standing!
Studies have shown that the simple act of standing up for an afternoon can burn almost 200 more calories than sitting. If you have a desk job, standing up for a few minutes at a time throughout the day can help — or you could even look into a standing desk kit.
10. Get more sleep
Losing out on sleep not only leaves us feeling exhausted and grumpy, it can also wreak havoc on our metabolic rate. Lack of sleep can seriously reduce your body’s ability to burn calories, meaning the simple act of getting a good night’s sleep could naturally improve metabolism with no sweaty exercise involved!
At the end of the day, boosting metabolism doesn’t have to be complicated.
Making just a few simple lifestyle changes could make all the difference, and significantly increase your body’s ability to bust through those unwanted calories!