How to speed up metabolism?
There are several simple and effective ways to speed up your metabolism, many of which involve simple diet and lifestyle changes.
Metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body that keep your body alive and functioning.
Your metabolism is also responsible for converting nutrients from the food you eat into fuel. This provides your body with the energy it needs to breathe, move, digest food, circulate blood and repair damaged tissues and cells. (1)
However, the word “metabolism” is often used to describe your basic metabolism (basal metabolism), or the number of calories you burn at rest.
The higher your metabolic rate, the more calories you burn at rest. Many factors can affect your metabolism, including your age, diet, gender, body size and health.
There are several evidence-based strategies that can help boost your metabolism to maintain a healthy weight and improve overall health.
1. Eat plenty of protein at every meal
Eating food can temporarily increase your metabolism for a few hours.
This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). It is caused by burning the extra calories needed to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your food.
Protein causes the greatest increase in TEF. Dietary protein requires 20 to 30 percent of usable energy expended for metabolism, compared with 5 to 10 percent for carbohydrates and 0 to 3 percent for fat. ( 2 )
In addition, protein consumption has been shown to increase satiety and prevent overeating. (3) (4) (5)
Eating more protein can also reduce the metabolic decline often associated with fat loss. This is because protein helps prevent muscle loss, a common side effect of a high-protein diet.
2. Drink more water
People who drink water instead of sugary drinks are often more successful at losing weight and keeping it off long-term. (6) (7) (8)
This is because sugary drinks contain calories, so replacing them with water automatically reduces your calorie intake.
Drinking water can also temporarily speed up metabolism.
According to a 2013 review, a small study found that drinking 500 ml. of water increases resting metabolism by 30% in about an hour. (9)
However, further research is needed to confirm this. A 2015 study suggests that drinking water doesn’t necessarily boost your metabolism after drinking it.(10)
Water can also fill you up if you want to lose weight. Studies show that drinking water half an hour before a meal can help you eat less. (11) (12)
Interestingly, a small study showed that people who drank 500 ml. of water 30 minutes before meals lost almost 1.3 kg more in 12 weeks than those who did not. ( 13 )
3. Weight lifting
Muscles are more metabolically active than fat. Building muscle can help increase your metabolism so you burn more calories each day, even at rest. ( 14 )
Lifting weights can help you maintain muscle and prevent the drop in metabolism that can occur during weight loss. (15) (16) (17)
In addition, after a review of 58 studies, weight training was significantly more effective at reducing body fat percentage, total body fat, and abdominal fat compared to a control group. ( 18 )
4. Do high-intensity exercise
High Intensity Training (HIIT) involves quick and very intense bursts of activity.
If this type of exercise is safe for you, it can help you burn more fat by boosting your metabolism even after your workout is over. (19) (20) (21)
This effect is thought to be greater with HIIT than with other types of exercise. What’s more, HIIT has been proven to help burn fat. (22) (23)
5. Stand straight longer
Sitting too much can have a negative effect on your health. (24) (25)
This is partly because long periods of sitting burn fewer calories and can lead to weight gain. ( 26 )
A 2018 review found that standing or walking to work was associated with reduced cardiometabolic risk (CMR) scores, weight, body fat, waist circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and fasting triglycerides, total/HDL cholesterol, and insulin. However, walking instead of standing produced greater improvements for lower systolic blood pressure and insulin resistance. ( 27 )
If you work at a desk, try to stand up for short periods of time to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting. You can also try walking during the day or invest in an adjustable desk.
6. Eat spicy food
Hot peppers contain capsaicin, a compound that can boost metabolism. (28) (29) (30)
However, many people cannot tolerate these spices in the doses required for a significant effect.
For example, a 2016 study evaluated the effects of capsaicin in acceptable doses. Eating paprika is estimated to burn about 10 extra calories per meal. Over 6.5 years, this can result in 0.5 kg of weight loss for an average weight man. ( 31 )
By themselves, the effects of adding spices to your food can be very small. However, it may result in a slight advantage when combined with other metabolic boosting strategies.
7. Drink green tea or oolong tea
Green tea and oolong tea have been proven to speed up metabolism and burn fat. (31) (32)
These teas help convert some of the fat stored in the body into free fatty acids, which when combined with exercise can increase fat burning. ( 33 )
Because they are low in calories, drinking these teas can be beneficial for weight loss and weight maintenance. ( 34 )
However, some older studies have shown that these teas do not affect metabolism. Therefore, their effect may be small or only apply to some people. (35) (36)
8. Make sure you get quality sleep
Lack of sleep is associated with a significantly increased risk of obesity. (37)
This may be due in part to the negative effects of sleep deprivation on metabolism. (38)
Lack of sleep is also associated with elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, which are associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. (39) (40)
It has also been shown to affect the levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and leptin, the hormone that controls (satiety). (41) (42)
This could explain why many sleep-deprived people often feel hungry and may struggle to lose weight if weight loss is their goal.
9. Drink coffee
Studies show that the caffeine in coffee can temporarily boost your metabolism. Like green tea, it can also promote fat burning. (43) (44)
If your goal is weight loss, several studies have shown that coffee’s effects on metabolism and fat burning can contribute to successful weight loss and weight maintenance. (45) (46)
However, the effects of caffeine can vary depending on several factors. For example, one study found that caffeine was more effective at increasing fat burning during exercise in people with less active (sedentary) lifestyles compared to highly trained athletes.
Making small lifestyle changes and incorporating these tips into your routine can help boost your metabolism.
A higher metabolism can help you lose weight and keep it off if that’s your goal, while also giving you more energy.
Frequently asked questions
Does diet affect metabolism?
Moderate weight loss can lower your metabolism and reduce the number of calories you burn at rest. Strength training and adequate protein intake can help maintain lean body mass during weight loss.
How long does it take to speed up metabolism?
The time it takes to boost your metabolism can vary based on many different factors, including diet, activity level, and health.
Some of the tips listed above can help speed up your metabolism quickly, while others may take longer. Additionally, these strategies should not be viewed as quick fixes, but should be incorporated into a health benefit plan that includes eating a nutrient-dense diet combined with physical activity and optimal sleep for long-lasting results.