10 Simple Ways to Boost Your Metabolism and Lose Weight

Health + Wellness
A woman carries a heavy potted plant at home
Lifting heavier objects around the house is a simple way to boost metabolism. Oscar Wong / Moment / Getty Images

Metabolism describes all the chemical reactions going on in your body that keep it alive and functioning. It refers to the cellular process that changes food into energy, and particular proteins in the body control these chemical reactions.

The word metabolism can get easily confused with the term metabolic rate, the amount of calories you burn. Having a high metabolism means you burn more calories and experience faster weight loss. Here are ten simple ways to boost your metabolism:

1. Replace Sugary Drinks With Water

Those who drink water instead of drinks containing high sugar content are better at losing weight and maintaining it, according to Harvard Health. Those sugary drinks contain calories that add up throughout the day, whereas water is calorie-free and hydrating. Even if you only replace one to three cups with plain water, you could see improvements. Water is also satiating.

Some sources indicate that drinking more cold water could help boost your metabolism.  An older study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that the energy expenditure results are negligible. Cooling water before drinking it yielded less than 5% energy expenditure over 60 minutes.

2. Eat More Protein

When you eat, your metabolism responds. The thermic effect of food (TEF) refers to the increase of calories needed to process the nutrients of a meal. Protein causes the largest rise in TEF by 20 to 35% compared to carbohydrates, and therefore, increases your metabolic rate. Protein can also keep you satiated longer.

3. Do High-Intensity Interval (HIIT) Training

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) engages the body in intense and quick bursts of aerobic and resistance workouts. This variety in activity at quick and intense levels can help you burn fat by boosting your metabolic rate, which lingers for hours after activity, according to a 2021 systematic review published in Obesity Reviews.

A HIIT workout can span ten to 30 minutes. You can try anything, such as dance, sprinting, biking or jumping rope at a fast and intense rate for 30 seconds and then a few minutes at a slower, more relaxed pace. The number of reps typically ranges from four to six. Including HIIT workouts in your exercise routine could help you avoid weight plateauing.

4. Lift Heavier Things

Fat is less metabolically active than muscle. Your metabolism experiences a drop when you are losing weight, if sedentary. However, lifting weights can help fight this drop and build muscle. Resting energy expenditure accounts for 60 to 75% of the calories you burn each day, according to Harvard Health. This is the rate at which you burn calories following a workout.

If you can’t make it to the gym, start slow at home by taking the time to rearrange your closet or pantry. According to The Washington Post, the calories you burn doing household chores can combat stay-at-home weight gain. And remember to lift with your legs, not your back.

5. Stand More Frequently

Sitting too often has been called “the new smoking” since both are linked with higher rates of obesity, increased blood pressure and other chronic disease risk factors. Sitting for too long can also adversely affect your mental health.

Standing burns eight more calories per hour than sitting, according to Harvard Health, while walking burns far more. A good rule of thumb is to avoid sitting for longer than 40-minute intervals. Invest in a standing desk, or consider a treadmill or under desk bike to keep your legs moving. While standing doesn’t burn many calories, variations between sitting and standing throughout the day are better for your health.

6. Drink Green Tea

Can green tea speed up weight loss? Drinking green tea won’t help you keep weight off, but it can contribute to a slight increase in your metabolic rate, NPR reports. 

A 2012 meta-analysis published in Cochrane reviewed 15 weight loss studies and three weight maintenance studies involving the consumption of green tea and found it did have an effect, though small. It may be that the benefits of green tea on weight loss are applicable to certain subsets of the population.

However, green tea does have antioxidant effects which are helpful to fight off free radicals and increase oxygen in your bloodstream. These antioxidants could provide a beneficial effect on helping your muscles recover after a workout.

7. Eat Spicy Foods

A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition found that chili (peppers) can improve control of insulin, aiding in weight management. Chili decreases energy expenditure by activating brown adipose tissue. Researchers also noted that this finding presented positive effects for treatments for diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disorders.

Peppers also contain capsaicin which can boost your metabolism. The McCormick Science Institute reports that red pepper can increase satiety and enhance your metabolism and energy.

8. Get Plenty of Rest

Did you know that a lack of sleep can influence insulin resistance as well as your blood sugar? Pennsylvania State University reports that sleep deprivation can adversely affect your metabolism and contribute to weight gain. A longer exposure to short sleep periods can increase one’s risk for obesity and other chronic conditions. However, missing out on several hours of sleep for many days can also affect your metabolism. 

It takes time for your system to return to its baseline metabolic rate, and catching up on sleep over the weekend isn’t the right fix. Take time to develop a bedtime routine and ease into getting between seven to nine hours of sleep, the recommended amount of sleep for adults.

9. Drink Coffee

Normal caffeine intake can increase energy expenditure, boosting one’s resting metabolic rate by 3 to 11% for lean and post-obese indviduals, according to an older study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Interestingly, this effect can taper off with age and is more effective in younger adults.

Caffeine boosted fat burning by nearly 29% in lean women and 10% in obese women, reported one older study published in The Journal of American Physiology, Endocrinology, and Metabolism. 

10. Use Coconut Oil  

Use coconut oil as your primary cooking fat, since it contains many medium-chain fats in place of the saturated and long-chain fats other cooking oils contain. Medium-chain fats can boost your metabolism and aid in weight loss, while potentially reducing obesity-related risk perimeters, according to a 2020 study published in Food and Function.

Simple lifestyle changes can help you boost your metabolism, such as including more green tea in your diet and HIIT in your workout routine. A higher metabolic rate can help you maintain a healthy weight and provide you with more energy over time.

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