7 ways to boost your metabolism - Insider
- Your metabolism is mostly determined by genetics, but there are a few ways to boost it.
- To boost your metabolism, build muscle, eat more protein, and try a HIIT workout.
- Spicy foods and drinking cold water may also temporarily boost your metabolism.
- Visit Insider's Health Reference library for more advice.
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If you're trying to lose weight the goal should be to burn more calories than you eat. In practice, that isn't quite as easy as it sounds, in part because everyone's metabolism is different.
The amount of calories you burn each day depends on three metabolic factors:
- Basal metabolic rate, which is how many calories your body burns at rest.
- Food processing, which is how much energy it takes to digest the foods you eat.
- Physical activity, which is how many calories you burn through movement.
"Some of that is determined by genetics, but there are certain things that can help boost your metabolism to some extent," says Mir Ali, MD, bariatric surgeon and medical director of MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center at Orange Coast Medical Center.
1. Eat more protein
It takes more energy for your body to digest a gram of protein than it does to digest a gram of carbohydrates. That means your body will burn more calories if you replace some of your carb servings with protein, Ali says.
One study found that people who ate a diet comprised of 29% protein had a base metabolic rate that burned about 212 more calories each day than people who ate a diet comprised of 11% protein.
2. Drink coffee
A cup of coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine, a stimulant that provides your metabolism a small boost, Ali says.
One study on overweight adults found that drinking four cups of coffee each day for 24 weeks led to an average weight loss of about 4%, likely due to the drink's effect on metabolism.
3. Drink green tea
Consuming green tea has been linked with weight loss, partly due to its caffeine content, Ali says. An eight-ounce cup of brewed green tea contains about 28 mg.
But there's also something more going on: Research has shown that the chemicals in green tea, including flavonoids, increase how quickly you break down fat through a process known as fat oxidation.
One study found that people who drank green tea had fat oxidation rates that were 20% higher than people who drank caffeinated beverages that weren't green tea.
4. Build muscle
Just like how it takes more energy to burn protein than carbs, it takes more energy to sustain muscle than it does to sustain fat. That's why building muscle, through lifting weights and other forms of resistance exercise, can aid weight loss.
The effect that increasing muscle has on metabolism is small but helpful: Gaining 2-4 pounds of muscle will typically increase metabolic rate by about 50 calories per day.
5. Try high-intensity interval training
Any exercise will increase the number of calories that you burn in a day, but high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is particularly effective, Ali says.
During a HIIT session, you're building muscle and raising your core body temperature. That will help you burn more calories, even after the exercise ends, he says.
Moreover, research shows that HIIT increases your metabolic rate over 24 hours in a similar way to endurance workouts that require a much bigger time commitment.
6. Eat spicy foods
Many spicy foods, like peppers, contain capsaicin, a chemical compound that has been linked to a small increase in metabolism.
A 2012 scientific review of research on spicy foods found that eating foods with capsaicin increased energy expenditure by a small amount — about 50 additional calories burned a day.
Still, Ali has a word of caution: Be sure not to over-eat spicy foods, since taking in too many calories will counteract any positive effects that spice has on your metabolism and cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
7. Drink more cold water
Replacing sugary drinks with water is a great way to cut down on calories, but cold water is particularly beneficial for metabolism and weight loss.
When you consume cold water, your body has to work harder (and burn more calories) to maintain its temperature.
One study found this creates a short-term boost in metabolism of up to 30%. In addition, research has linked drinking cold water with weight loss in part because staying well-hydrated, alone, helps boost metabolism.
Although there are ways to increase your metabolism, the impacts are generally small, Ali says. Therefore, trying the steps above might result in some weight loss, but the most effective, sustainable way to lose weight is by eating healthily while also watching the number of calories that you eat.
"Boosts in metabolism definitely help, but if you're still eating the wrong things you're not going to see much result," Ali says.
In general, following a limited calorie, low-carb diet is a good way to lose weight while keeping your metabolism firing. However, you'll need to find the dietary approach that works for you long-term, in order to maintain that goal weight after reaching it.
Kelly Burch is a New Hampshire-based freelance journalist writing about finances, health, family, and more. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and Forbes, among others. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter , and or learn more here .
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This article was medically reviewed by Kailey Proctor, MPH, RDN, CSO, a board-certified oncology dietitian at the Leonard Clinical Cancer Institute with Mission Hospital.
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