‘Metabolism’ is a word that often gets thrown around when people are talking about losing weight, often in relation to boosting or increasing it.
But what is your metabolism and why would you want to boost it?
‘Metabolism’ refers to all the chemical reactions in your body. It keeps you alive and ensures all your organs functioning as they should. This isn’t exactly what we want to increase though – that’s your metabolic rate.
Your metabolic rate is basically the speed at which you burn calories. When people say they have a slow metabolism, what they actually mean is they have low metabolic rate – and it’s this they want to boost. The higher your metabolic rate, the faster you burn calories and the more weight you can potentially lose.
With that very basic bit of background out of the way, here are some ways you can boost your metabolism, or increase your metabolic rate…
Get more sleep
We’ll start with a simple one that pretty much anyone should be able to do – get more sleep. A lack of sleep can make it difficult to lose weight for a number of reasons.
One reason is that if you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more of a hormone called ghrelin. This is the hormone that makes you feel hungry, which obviously is going to make you want to eat more and consume more calories.
As a double-header, you also produce less of a hormone called leptin. This hormone makes you feel full – again, if you’re producing less of it, you’re more likely to eat.
It’s no secret that working out and doing exercise is good for you, and one reason is because it can increase your metabolic rate. What’s even better is that it continues to do so even after you finish working out.
High intensity interval training (HIIT), where you do short bursts of high intensity exercise, is said to be even better at burning fat and helping you lose weight.
Lifting weights to build muscle when you work out is also beneficial. This because muscle helps increase your metabolism compared to fat. By building more muscle you will burn more calories even when resting.
Increase your protein intake
Did you know that eating actually increases your metabolism for a while? That’s down to a process called the thermic effect of food (TEF), which refers to the amount of calories your body uses to digest the food.
The reason protein is particularly good here is that it increases your TEF by the largest amount. Protein increases your metabolic rate by 15-30% compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats.
Eating protein can also help combat the drop in metabolism caused by weight loss.
Eat spicy food
If you can handle eating spicy food than there’s some evidence to suggest that it can help increase the amount of calories you burn. Peppers contain a substance called capsaicin which can increase metabolism, and while it won’t have an enormous effect on its own, it may help alongside other metabolism-boosting methods.
Drink green tea
There are all sorts of health benefits associated with drinking green tea, and one of those is that it can boost your metabolism.
Drinking green or oolong tea has been shown to potentially increase metabolism by 4-5%. Evidence isn’t conclusive and may not work for everyone, but it’s always handy to make sure you’re drinking enough fluids, and green tea is very low in calories.
Another one that many people may be delighted to learn is that coffee can also help increase metabolism and increase fat burning – by roughly 3-11%.
However, it apparently works better on those who are already quite lean. One study found that drinking coffee increased fat burning by 29% for lean women but only 10% for obese women.