- Your metabolism is mostly determined by genetics, but there are a few ways to get it started.
- To get your metabolism going, build muscle, eat more protein, and try a HIIT workout.
- Eating spicy food and drinking cold water can also temporarily boost your metabolism.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference Library for more advice.
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The goal should be to burn more calories than you eat. In practice this is not quite as easy as it sounds, also because every metabolism is different.
Important: Your metabolism is what converts food into fuel. So people with a faster metabolism may find it easier to control their weight because they naturally burn more calories than people with a slower metabolism. However, when it comes to weight loss, your metabolism is just a small piece of the puzzle.
The amount of calories you burn every day depends on three metabolic factors:
- Basal metabolic rate, that is how many calories your body burns at rest.
- Food processingThat is how much energy it takes to digest the food you eat.
- Physical activitythat is how many calories you burn from exercise.
“Some of these are determined by genetics, but there are certain things that can help boost your metabolism to some extent,” said Mir Ali, MD, bariatric surgeon and medical director of MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center on the Orange Coast Medical center.
1. Eat more protein
Your body needs more energy to digest one gram of protein than it does to digest one gram of carbohydrates. That means replacing some of your carbohydrate servings with protein will make your body burn more calories, Ali says.
One study found that people who ate a 29% protein diet had a basal metabolic rate that burned about 212 more calories each day than people who ate an 11% protein diet.
2. Drink coffee
One cup of coffee contains around 95 mg of caffeine, a stimulant that gives your metabolism a little boost, Ali says.
One study in overweight adults found that drinking four cups of coffee a day for 24 weeks resulted in an average weight loss of about 4%, likely due to the drink’s effects on metabolism.
3. Drink green tea
Green tea consumption has been linked to weight loss, in part because of its caffeine content, Ali says. One 8-ounce cup of brewed green tea contains about 28 mg.
But there’s something more going on: Research has shown that the chemicals in green tea, including flavonoids, increase the rate at which you break down fat through a process known as fat oxidation.
One study found that people who drank green tea had a 20% higher rate of fat oxidation than people who drank caffeinated beverages that weren’t green tea.
4. Build muscles
Just as it takes more energy to burn protein than carbohydrates, it takes more energy to maintain muscle than it does to maintain fat. Because of this, building muscle through weight lifting and other forms of resistance exercise can help you lose weight.
The effect muscle building has on metabolism is small but helpful: building 2-4 pounds of muscle will typically increase metabolic rate by around 50 calories per day.
5. Try high-intensity interval training
Every exercise increases the number of calories you burn in a day, but high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is especially effective, Ali says.
During a HIIT session, you build muscle and increase your core body temperature. That’ll help you burn more calories even after the exercise is over, he says.
Additionally, research shows that HIIT increases your metabolic rate over 24 hours in a similar way to endurance workouts, which are much more time-consuming.
6. Eat spicy foods
5 Science-Based Benefits Of Spicy Food And How It Can Help You Burn Calories And Live Longer
Many spicy foods, such as paprika, 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 consuming foods containing capsaicin increased energy expenditure by a small amount – about 50 extra calories burned per day.
Nevertheless, Ali is precautionary: Be careful not to eat too much too spicy, as too high a calorie intake counteracts the positive effects of spices on your metabolism and causes gastrointestinal complaints.
7. Drink more cold water
7 Science-Based Benefits Of Drinking Water – And How Much Water To Drink Each Day
Replacing sugary drinks with water is a great way to conserve calories, but cold water is especially 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 that this boosts metabolism by up to 30% in the short term. Additionally, research has linked drinking cold water to weight loss, in part because staying well hydrated alone helps boost your metabolism.
While there are ways to increase your metabolism, the effects are generally small, says Ali. Hence, trying the above steps can result in some weight loss, but the most effective and sustainable way to lose weight is to eat healthy while being careful about the number of calories you are consuming.
“Increasing your metabolism definitely helps, but if you are still eating the wrong things, you are not going to make a big difference,” says Ali.
In general, a low-calorie diet is a great way to lose weight while keeping your metabolism going. However, you need to find the nutritional approach that will work for you over the long term to maintain that target weight after you reach the target weight.