The term “metabolism” is commonly associated with weight management. People with faster metabolisms, the popular opinion suggests, have an easier time burning calories and maintaining a healthy weight.
But that’s far from the whole story when it comes to metabolism. Your metabolism is important for your health in a number of key ways, which we’ll explore in this article. And, moreover, we’ll explore whether there’s anything you can do to increase your own metabolism.
Metabolism is a bodily process that takes place at the cellular level, converting food into the energy your body needs to function properly. Your metabolism, therefore, is responsible for helping your body move, breathe, repair tissues, and much more. A healthy metabolism helps lead to a healthy body, plain and simple.
When people talk about “metabolism,” though, they’re typically defining the term more narrowly, having to do with your basal metabolic rate. Your basal metabolic rate is the rate at which your body burns calories while you’re at rest. The higher your metabolic rate – the faster your metabolism – the more calories you burn. That’s why people who have little difficulty with weight management will often say they benefit from a “fast metabolism.”
Your metabolism is determined by a range of factors, including age, diet, sex, health status, and more. For more information about your metabolism, in particular, you should talk to your physician.
Yes! Whether by making slight lifestyle adjustments or by adding more vitamins and nutrients to your diet, there are ways to increase your metabolism! This is good news, because keeping your metabolism healthy is essential to our daily functions.
In what follows, we’ll take a look at some evidence-based approaches to increasing your metabolism and supporting overall health.
Eating good, quality protein has been shown to increase metabolism. This is caused by what’s known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). TEF is caused by the extra calories required to digest a meal’s nutrients – and protein unsurprisingly causes the biggest jump in TEF. Studies show that protein requires 20%-30% of its energy to be spent on metabolism.
A related benefit of eating protein is that doing so can create feelings of satiety, which supports broader weight management efforts. When you’re feeling full, you’re less likely to overeat.
Eating at regular times can help your body maintain consistent energy levels. It can also make sure you’re feeling full and satisfied throughout the day, which can support weight management.
It is well understood that drinking plenty of water is good for your health. Your body is about 70% water, and water is essential to the normal and proper functioning of your body. Water helps regulate your body temperature, supports your joints, and helps your body dispose of waste. Proper hydration can also support cardiovascular, respiratory, and immune health.
And there’s more: Water is also important for your metabolism! Indeed, studies show that drinking water can temporarily increase your metabolism. Water can also increase feelings of satiety, thereby supporting your weight management goals.
Who doesn’t like a nice hot or iced green tea? Good news: Drinking green tea has been shown to boost metabolism!
Now, it’s worth noting that some older studies did not find that green tea altered metabolism in an appreciable way. But the health benefits of green tea are by now beyond question. Green tea is rich in antioxidant properties, for example.
When it comes to weight management, green tea can convert some of the fat your body stores into free fatty acids, which, when paired with exercise, can increase fat burning. Green tea is also rich in catechins, which may support weight loss.
Engaging in high-intensity workouts, which consists of quick and intense bursts of exercise, can help support your weight management goals. Studies also show that such workouts can increase your metabolic rate, further supporting your weight management efforts.
If you happen to enjoy spicy foods, you’re in luck! Spicy foods have been shown to increase people’s metabolic rates. This phenomenon has to do with spicy foods’ “thermogenic properties” – a fancy term that describes your body’s process of burning calories to generate heat. Furthermore, many spicy foods contain capsaicin, a chemical naturally found in chili peppers and commonly used in culinary dishes. Studies have found that capsaicin can increase metabolism.
Getting enough sleep is vital to your health. Consider this medical review, which found that sleep deprivation negatively affected participants’ metabolisms. Sleep loss has also been shown to affect bodily hormones related to hunger and fullness, throwing them out of whack and leading to greater difficulties with weight management.
With so many jobs nowadays requiring folks to spend long hours sitting at desks, it’s important to know that sitting for too long can have negative consequences for your health. When you spend too much time sitting, your body doesn’t burn enough calories.
If you have an office job, you can look into getting a standing desk. You should also try to go for walks during the day. This has been shown to help with burning calories and supporting overall health.
Your gut microbiome consists of bacteria – some that we’d deem “good” and some that we’d deem “bad.” Having a healthy gut microbiome relies on having the proper balance of these different strains of bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome leads to healthier digestion and better health overall. The nutrients you get from your food all have to go through the gut first. Given the wide-ranging implications of the health of your gut microbiome, it’s perhaps unsurprising that your microbiome also has an impact on metabolism. Indeed, this medical review found that addressing the health of your gut microbiome can address problems with weight management and metabolism.
We all understand that too much stress isn’t good for us. It turns out that too much stress is also bad for your metabolism, as this study demonstrates. There are many natural ways to reduce stress, including meditation, eating a healthy diet, exercise, getting enough sleep, yoga, breathwork, attending therapy, and more. If your stress issues persist, you may want to talk to a medical professional.
As always, you’ve got to watch out for processed foods, avoiding additives, excess ingredients, sugar content, and so on. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your sugar intake to 6-9 tsp/day. When it comes to protecting your health, a healthy, varied, nutrient-rich diet goes a long way. If you have questions about the foods you should be consuming, you can talk to your physician or a registered dietitian.
Your metabolism converts the nutrients from the food you eat into the fuel your body needs to function at a high level. A healthy metabolism means a healthier body, plain and simple. Oftentimes the term “metabolism” is used to describe the basal metabolic rate, which has to do with the number of calories your body will burn while in a state of rest.
There are several ways to ensure the health of your metabolism, including by following some of the steps outlined above. Get enough sleep. Eat quality protein. Drink Water. Cut down on stress. If you do these things, you’ll put yourself in a good position when it comes to your metabolic health.
Depending on your vitamin levels, you may also be able to boost your metabolism by taking certain vitamin supplements. To learn more about vitamins and metabolism, check out this comprehensive Care/of explainer. As always, you should talk to a medical professional before adding any new supplements to your routine. Likewise, you should talk to a medical professional if you have other questions about how to improve your metabolic health.
Fortunately, making some small lifestyle tweaks can go a long way!