Your metabolism plays a vital role in your overall health and weight management efforts. Having a faster metabolism allows you to burn more calories even at rest. This gives you more flexibility with your diet since you can eat a bit more without gaining weight. However, metabolism is complex and influenced by many different factors. The good news is with some lifestyle tweaks and focused efforts, you can give your metabolism a natural boost.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the top evidence-backed strategies for revving up your resting metabolic rate (RMR). From nutrition tips to exercise strategies and beyond, you will learn easy ways to boost your metabolism and make fat loss easier. Keep reading to discover a customized plan for supercharging your metabolism.
What is Metabolism?
Let's start with a brief overview of what metabolism actually is. In simple terms, your metabolism refers to all the chemical reactions occurring in your body at any given time. These reactions are essential for life and involve breaking down nutrients from food into energy your cells can use.
Your metabolism has two main components - basal (or resting) metabolic rate and thermic effect of food/activity.
- Basal metabolic rate (BMR) - The number of calories your body burns while at complete rest. About 60-75% of daily calorie burn comes from basic body functions like breathing, circulating blood, brain function etc.
- Thermic effect of food (TEF)/activity - The calories burned during digestion, absorption and processing of food as well as during physical activity. About 10-30% comes from TEF and 10-35% from activity.
Your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is the sum of these metabolic components in a day. A faster metabolism means higher calorie output even at rest, making weight maintenance easier. Genetics play a role but several lifestyle habits can naturally speed up your metabolic fire.
Top Strategies to Boost Metabolism Naturally
Focusing on a few key strategies can ramp up your RMR and help you lose or manage weight more efficiently over time. Here are some top evidence-backed hacks for supercharging your metabolism:
1- Lift Weights
Strength training is one of the most effective ways to build muscle mass, and more muscle equals a higher resting metabolism. Muscle is metabolically active tissue that burns calories around the clock, even at rest.
In addition, weight lifting triggers muscle protein synthesis and repair after workouts, further increasing calorie burn. Researchers estimate that for every pound of muscle gained, the body burns an additional 50-100 calories per day.
Aim to incorporate resistance training 2-3 times per week, challenging all major muscle groups with multiple compound exercises like squats, lunges, rows, shoulder presses and bicep curls. Use a weight that fatigues muscles within 8-12 repetitions.
2- Do High Intensity Interval Training
Interval training takes basic cardio to the next level by alternating bursts of high intensity effort with periods of recovery. Not only does HIIT torch calories during the actual workout, it continues burning calories for hours afterward through increased post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
Some research shows that HIIT may increase EPOC and daily calorie burn more than steady-state cardio. Some options include sprint intervals, stair intervals, burpees and jump rope intervals. Aim for 4-5 sessions of HIIT per week, with each session lasting 20-30 minutes or less.
3- Eat Protein at Every Meal
Protein has a higher thermic effect compared to carbs and fat, meaning it takes more calories to digest and metabolize. Studies show protein itself may also boost metabolic rate through increased gluconeogenesis (creation of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources).
Focus on getting at least 20-30g of high quality protein like eggs, fish, poultry, yogurt and legumes with every meal and snack. This stable supply of protein throughout the day supports muscle mass and metabolic fire.
4- Incorporate Green Tea
Green tea is loaded with antioxidants that aid fat burning and increase thermogenesis slightly. Catechins like EGCG are the main compounds responsible. Research shows green tea extract combined with exercise burned over 17% more fat compared to exercise alone.
Aim for 2-3 cups of green tea daily. Brew it traditionally or enjoy a commercially prepared green tea supplement. Be mindful of caffeine levels if sensitive. Black tea and coffee also provide a small metabolic boost but green tea's thermogenic effect lasts longer.
5- Manage Stress Levels
Chronic stress is linked to long term metabolic dysfunction including difficulty losing weight. When stressed, the body produces more cortisol which cues fat storage over muscle gain. Meditation, yoga and deep breathing techniques counter stress and support metabolism.
Even just 10 minutes can help relax the mind and body. Prioritize stress reduction through whatever methods work best for you like social support, nature walks, journaling and more. Managing stress protects metabolic health long term.
6- Get Enough Sleep
Lack of quality sleep is a metabolic disruptor. Studies show less than 7 hours per night increases risk of weight gain, even without changes in diet or exercise. Sleep loss boosts cortisol and ghrelin while lowering leptin, the hunger suppressing hormone.
Poor sleep disrupts circadian rhythms which control appetite, metabolism and usage of nutrients. Aim for 7-9 hours of high quality, restorative sleep per night. Practice relaxing habits before bed and limit screen time at night which inhibits melatonin production.
7- Drink Water
Staying hydrated stokes metabolic fire. Water supports bodily functions like circulation, nutrient transport and body temperature regulation. Even mild dehydration can slow metabolism slightly.
Drinking water 30 minutes before meals can help you eat less by keeping you feeling fuller. This supports digestion along with overall energy levels and metabolic rate.
8- Manage Portion Size
While metabolism plays the biggest role in daily calorie burn, portion control matters too for weight management. Overeating, even just 100 extra calories per day, can lead to unwanted weight gain over time.
Pay attention to recommended serving sizes for meals and snacks. Slow down while eating with utensils only. Opt for smaller plates to create the perception of larger portions. Managing portions, you'll likely burn a few extra calories from increased thermogenesis.
9- Consider Supplements Strategically
Some research backs adding certain supplements to boost metabolism, but they're not mandatory and should never replace lifestyle changes:
- Caffeine - 200-300mg daily up to 5mg/kg body weight
- Green tea extract - 150-300mg EGCG twice daily
- Apple cider vinegar - 1-2 tbsp daily in water
- Bitter orange extract - Low doses but quality control issues
- Rhodiola rosea - Up to 340mg daily
- Thermogenic blends - Consult a nutrition professional
10- Incorporate Fidgeting Breaks
Fidgeting, light muscle contractions and non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) sum to meaningful calorie expenditure over time. Aim for 2-minute fidget breaks every 30 minutes of sitting like bouncing your legs, stretching or using a standing desk.
Take walks during work breaks or TV commercials too. Small movements naturally increase calorie output and fight sedentary metabolism declines. Make NEAT a priority through lifestyle habits like gardening, pacing while talking on the phone and more.
11- Manage Calories and Macros
While these strategies maximize RMR naturally, managing calorie intake based on goals is still important. Track intake for a few weeks using an app or journal to understand quantities normally eaten. Then create a mild deficit of 100-500 calories daily for steady weight loss.
Pay attention to macronutrient balance, aiming for at least 20% protein, 25-35% healthy fats and the rest filling carbs. This stable fuel matrix supports metabolism and body composition changes. Be consistent yet flexible, making lifestyle tweaks you can maintain long term.
Customizing a Plan
The strategies above provide a comprehensive metabolic framework to try incorporating over time. However, as with any health plan, an individualized approach works best. Here are some tips for customizing a metabolism boosting plan:
- Choose 3-5 top strategies to focus on based on current habits and needs. Work on implementing just a few changes well rather than spreading effort too thin.
- Gradually increase workout intensity or protein intake over 4-6 weeks as tolerance allows to steadily challenge metabolism. Rush nothing for lasting results.
- Track progress using measurements, pictures and once a month weigh-ins. Notice any changes in energy, digestion and body composition over 2-3 months.
- Experiment finding what foods, meal timings or activities boost your metabolism most. Listen to your unique signs of progress.
- Partnership with your doctor, physiologist or nutritionist can ensure customized plans support medical needs and potential roadblocks are addressed.
- Build in rest and recovery on non-workout days to prevent burnout which halts progress. Focus on maintenance over bursts which backfire.
- Re-assess plan every 6-12 weeks to reinforce strategies working well and modify any less effective elements based on current needs.