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8 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism

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8 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism
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Can You Speed up Your Metabolism to Lose Weight?

Weight loss isn't only about eating fewer calories. Effective weight loss programs also include strategies to speed up metabolism.

Fortunately, there are multiple ways you can do this. Below are eight simple methods.

1. Move Your Body

All body movement burns calories. The more active you are, the higher your metabolic rate becomes.

Even very basic activity, such as standing up regularly, walking around or doing household tasks, makes a major difference in the long run.

This boost in metabolic rate is technically known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).

In severely obese individuals, NEAT may account for a significant portion of the daily calorie expenditure due to the extra burden they have to carry around (3, 29).

There are several ways in which you can boost your NEAT. If you spend a lot of time sitting, here are a few strategies:

  • Stand up regularly and walk around
  • Take the stairs whenever possible
  • Do household tasks
  • Fidget, such as bouncing your legs or tapping your fingers
  • Chew calorie-free gum (30)
  • Use a standing desk (31)

If you have a desk job, using a standing desk may increase the number of calories you burn by 16 percent (32).

Another study showed that spending one afternoon standing burned an extra 174 calories, compared to sitting (33).

Even seemingly insignificant activities like typing may increase your metabolic rate by 8 percent, compared to doing nothing (32).

In the same way, fidgeting can make a significant difference (34).

One study found people who sat motionless for 20 minutes temporarily increased their calorie expenditure by 4 percent, compared to when they lay motionless. In contrast, fidgeting while seated increased calorie expenditure by a whopping 54 percent (35).

Regular exercise is highly recommended for anyone who wants to lose weight or improve their health. But even light activities like walking around, doing household tasks or fidgeting, can give you an advantage in the long run.

Summary: The more you move your body, the greater your metabolic rate becomes. If you have a desk job, you can improve your metabolic rate by walking around regularly, chewing gum or using a standing desk.

2. Do High-Intensity Workouts

One of the most effective forms of exercise is high-intensity workouts, also known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

HIIT is when exercise involves quick and very intense bouts of activity, such as sprints or fast push-ups.

It really speeds up your metabolism, even after the workout has finished—an effect dubbed the "after burn" (36, 37, 38).

Summary: High-intensity interval training is one of the most effective ways to boost your metabolic rate and burn more calories.

3. Strength Train

Another excellent way to speed up your metabolic rate is to strength train (39, 40).

In addition to the direct effect of the exercise itself, strength exercises promote the growth of muscle mass.

The amount of muscle you have is directly associated with your metabolic rate. Unlike fat mass, muscle mass significantly increases the number of calories you burn at rest (5, 41).

One study showed that doing strength exercises for 11 minutes a day, three times per week, resulted in an average increase of 7.4 percent in resting metabolic rate after half a year. This translated into an additional 125 calories burned per day (40).

Older age is generally associated with muscle loss and drops in metabolic rate, but regular strength exercise can partially counteract this adverse effect (42, 43).

Similarly, a calorie-reduced, weight loss diet often results in the loss of muscle mass and decreases metabolic rate. Again, strength training may help prevent this decline (44, 45).

In fact, a study in overweight women showed doing strength exercises on a low-calorie diet of 800 calories daily prevented decreases in muscle mass and metabolic rate, compared to those who didn't exercise or only did aerobic exercise (46).

Summary: Strength training can increase metabolic rate by promoting the growth of muscle mass. It may even counteract the drop in metabolic rate associated with aging and low-calorie diets.

4. Eat Protein

Eating adequate amounts of protein is essential if you want to build or maintain your muscle mass. But dietary protein also has other important qualities.

All food leads to a temporary increase in metabolic rate, known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). However, this effect is much stronger after eating protein than after eating carbs or fat (47).

In fact, protein increases metabolic rate by 20–30 percent, whereas carbs and fat cause a 3–10 percent increase or less (48).

This boost in calorie expenditure may help promote weight loss or prevent weight regain after a weight loss diet (49, 50, 51).

The TEF is highest in the morning or during the first few hours after you wake up. For this reason, eating a large proportion of your daily calories early in the day can maximize the effect (52, 53).

Eating high amounts of protein can also help counteract the loss of muscle mass and slowdown of metabolic rate associated with weight loss (54, 55, 56).

Summary: Eating adequate amounts of protein is essential to increasing or maintaining your muscle mass and metabolic rate.

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