5 Ways to Naturally Boost Metabolism

In today’s media, there are countless claims about how to boost metabolism to lose weight. Take this supplement, eat these exotic berries, drink this fat-busting elixir! These are all common recommendations for revving up metabolism.

When the term metabolism is used in these contexts, it’s actually referring to metabolic rate, or the number of calories you burn to maintain bodily functions at rest. Several factors can affect the rate at which you burn energy, including age, muscles mass, weight, hormones, and gender.

So, how do you increase the number of calories you burn?

Boosting metabolism is not a matter of taking the latest pill or powder. Instead, you can support a healthy metabolism through exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting a good night’s sleep. Here are the top five ways to boost your metabolism.

1. Include a Source of Protein with Every Meal

When you eat, the process of digestion, absorption, and nutrient utilization increases your metabolism for a few hours. This is referred to as the Thermic Effect of Food or TEF. TEF can account for up to 10% of your total daily calorie expenditure.

Protein causes the largest rise in the thermic effect of food (TEF). It can increase your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbohydrates and 0-3% for dietary fat.

Pairing a protein with a complex (high fiber) carbohydrate and a healthy source of fat has also been shown to help you feel fuller on fewer calories which helps to prevent overeating. Good protein sources are not limited to animal products like meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

You may have heard the recommendation to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. The amount of water a person needs varies depending on the environment, activity levels, personal health, and diet. The general recommendation from The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) a day for females and 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) a day for males.

Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. One study showed that drinking 17 ounces of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour. The calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body burns more energy to heat it up to body temperature. Many people confuse thirst for hunger. Drinking plenty of water can also help to avoid overeating.

3. Get a Good Night of Rest

The National Sleep Foundation guidelines advise that healthy adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

There is growing evidence that sleep loss and sleep disorders have a significant impact on metabolism. Sleep deprivation can alter glucose metabolism and the hormones involved in regulating metabolism specifically decreased leptin (tells your brain that you are full or satisfied) and increased ghrelin (cues your brain that you are hungry).

Healthy Sleep Tips:

* Create a sleep-inducing bedroom by making your bedroom a place of comfort and relaxation. Choose quality bedding, avoid light disruption and set the thermostat to a comfortably cool temp between 65-68 degrees.

* Optimize your sleep schedule. Set a fixed wake up time and budget time for sleep. If your sleep schedule needs adjusting, do this gradually with a maximum difference of 1-2 hours per night.

* Have a bedtime routine. Take 30 minutes to wind down by lowering the lights and disconnecting from devices.

* Promote good sleep by practicing healthy habits during the day. Include intentional exercise, monitor caffeine intake, avoid eating 1-2 hours before bed, be mindful of alcohol intake and don’t smoke.

4. Stand Up More

Long periods of sitting burn fewer calories and may even lead to weight gain over time. One study found that compared to sitting, ½ a day of standing up at work can burn an extra 174 calories. If a standing desk is not an option, try to avoid sitting for long periods of time throughout the day. Get up and move for 5 minutes every 30 minutes or 10 minutes every hour. Another great tip is to take a walk around the block on a 10-minute break and/or at lunch.

5. Strength Training

By incorporating high-intensity interval training or HIIT into your fitness routine, you can cut down on the time you spend exercising while still getting a quality workout.

HIIT workouts involve very intense bursts of activity, usually over a short period of time like 10-15 minutes. Studies have shown that shorter HIIT style workouts may even burn more calories than longer periods of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise because they increase the metabolic rate well after the workout has finished.

High-intensity exercise creates oxygen “debt” that the body must “repay.” This is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC. In order for the body to recover from a HIIT workout, it consumes a higher amount of O2 which burns additional calories. This effect can last up to 24-36 hours after the workout was complete.