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Boosting Metabolism for Long Term Results

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Dieting to lose weight can come in the form of several different processes, all with the same goal—to drop pounds. It is ideal to choose a diet that focuses on portion control and quality foods with good nutritional value. On top of dieting, weight loss will be more attainable if exercise is incorporated. Each of these components results in weight loss due to the overall ingestion of fewer calories compared to what the body is burning. The problem with the equation is after prolonged successful dieting the body’s metabolism will begin to slow down. This happens because overtime when the weight drops, you will require fewer calories in order to keep up the weight loss. Eventually, the body begins to hold on to your ingested calories if those total calories fall below your basal metabolic rate or BMR.

What is Metabolism?

Metabolism is the term used to describe the chemical and physical processes that our bodies use to convert food into energy. These processes consist of breathing, circulation of blood through the body, eating and digestion, and elimination of waste products. In the dieting world, metabolism is better known as the rate at which our bodies burn the calories from the food we eat. This metabolic rate changes daily depending on our activity levels, but there is always one part that stays relatively constant—BMR, which is the amount of calories the body requires for its basic functions like keeping the heart beating, circulating blood, and breathing.

As mentioned, when total calories consumed drops below the BMR value on a consistent basis, the entire metabolism of the body will slow down, leading to a plateau in weight loss and possibly weight gain. During weight loss, BMR will fluctuate as weight continues to drop. This is because your body will require fewer calories to function with less weight. If you have a high body fat percentage with a significant amount of weight to lose, eating a bit under your BMR will not cause any harm, since stored fat itself metabolizes a considerably high amount of calories per day. For a skinny person with very low body fat percentage, this will slow down basic bodily functions and result in little energy overall.

How to Speed Up Metabolism

There are several ways to change your metabolism in favor of losing weight. For those who are just starting out with a weight loss program, speeding up your metabolism will be much easier than those that have been dieting for a while. Either way, there are various surefire ways to boost your rate with small changes.

Eat More Protein

When eating any food, the body will burn calories right away to chew and digest, but each macronutrient will burn at different rates. Eating protein will boost this initial calorie burn by up to 30%, whereas carbs and fats boost about 10% and 3%, respectively. Protein also keeps you full for a longer period of time, which means you will most likely eat less throughout the day.

Drink More (Cold) Water

Drinking water has been shown to boost your metabolic rate by up to 30% for about an hour. Making that glass of water a cold one, will burn even more due to the fact that the body will need to warm it up to body temperature. Adding to the weight loss benefit, drinking water before meals has been shown to help dieters cut their calorie intake.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Bursts of high intensity exercise are known to spike the calorie burn, not only during the activity but also for several hours afterwards. Examples are sprints, boxing, jumping rope, and plyometric-type exercises.

Strength Training

Weight lifting has the same after-burn effect as HIIT, but also leads to building more muscle. Increasing muscle size and strength will increase your metabolism due to the high rate of energy it takes to maintain itself. Every pound of muscle burns about six calories per day, which is three times the amount that fat can burn. If you lose ten pounds of fat, that was normally burning 20 extra calories per day, and build 10 pounds of muscle in place, you will now burn 60 extra calories. This is why lifting weights is a major advantage to speeding up metabolism.

Stand Up More Often

Sitting all day at your desk job will burn calories of course because you have all of your systems up and running—breathing, circulation, and the movement of the fingers on the computer keyboard. Standing will actually add about 50 extra calories per hour to your calorie burn. Spending half of your workday standing will burn 200 extra calories per day, which can lead to a good amount of extra pounds lost over time. They say sitting is “the new smoking” because of the association with weight gain.

Quality Sleep

When you are sleep-deprived the body ends up producing more of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. The opposite hormone, leptin, that is in charge of letting our bodies know when to stop eating, is decreased when sleep-deprived. More ghrelin and less leptin will lead to weight gain. To help improve your sleep quality, focus on getting to bed earlier every night and stay away from any activity that keeps you too energized and anxious too close to bedtime.

Other Factors That Affect Metabolism

There are many factors that naturally affect the rate of metabolism. Due to a loss of muscle mass and hormonal changes, the older we get the more our metabolism slows. Body size will also affect this rate. Just as someone who weighs more burns more calories, taller individuals will have a faster metabolic rate than their shorter counterparts. Hormonal conditions such as thyroid issues, drugs such as caffeine and steroids, and environmental changes such as hot and cold weather will also have an impact on how fast we burn calories. Even with the presence of these factors, adjusting just a few of the daily habits listed above will help increase your metabolism and keep your goals in sight.


  1. Sunil Sharma and Mani Kavuru, Sleep and Metabolism: An Overview, Journal