10 Easy Ways to Boost Your Metabolism (Backed by Science)
About This Event
Metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.
However, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.
The higher it is, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off.
Here are 10 easy ways to increase your metabolism.
1. Eat Plenty of Protein at Every Meal
Eating food can increase your metabolism for a few hours.
This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). It's caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb, and process the nutrients in your meal.
Protein causes the largest rise in TEF. It increases your metabolic rate by 15–30%, compared to 5–10% for carbs and 0–3% for fats (1Trusted Source).
Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
One small study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet (9Trusted Source).
Eating more protein can also reduce the drop in metabolism often associated with losing fat. This is because it reduces muscle loss, which is a common side effect of dieting (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
2. Drink More Cold Water
People who drink water instead of sugary drinks are more successful at losing weight and keeping it off (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
This is because sugary drinks contain calories, so replacing them with water automatically reduces your calorie intake.
However, drinking water may also temporarily speed up your metabolism (18Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).
Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 liters) of water increases resting metabolism by 10–30% for about an hour (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature (21Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
Water can also help fill you up. Studies show that drinking water a half an hour before you eat can help you eat less (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
One study of overweight adults found that those who drank half a liter of water before their meals lost 44% more weight than those who didn't (19Trusted Source).
Water can help you lose weight and keep it off. It increases your metabolism and helps fill you up before meals.
3. Do a High-Intensity Workout
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves quick and very intense bursts of activity.
It can help you burn more fat by increasing your metabolic rate, even after your workout has finished (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).
This effect is believed to be greater for HIIT than for other types of exercise. What's more, HIIT has also been shown to help you burn fat (32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).
One study in overweight young men found that 12 weeks of high-intensity exercise reduced fat mass by 4.4 pounds (2 kg) and belly fat by 17% (35Trusted Source).
Mixing up your exercise routine, and adding in a few high-intensity workouts, can boost your metabolism and help you burn fat.
4. Lift Heavy Things
Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, and building muscle can help increase your metabolism (36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source).
Lifting weights will also help you retain muscle and combat the drop in metabolism that can occur during weight loss (41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source, 43Trusted Source, 44Trusted Source).
In one study, 48 overweight women were placed on a diet of 800 calories per day, along with either no exercise, aerobic exercise or resistance training (45Trusted Source).
After the diet, the women who did the resistance training maintained their muscle mass, metabolism and strength. The others lost weight, but also lost muscle mass and experienced a decrease in metabolism (45Trusted Source).
Lifting weights is important for building and retaining muscle. Higher amounts of muscle will result in a higher metabolism.
5. Stand up More
Sitting too much is bad for your health (46Trusted Source).
Some health commentators have even dubbed it "the new smoking." This is partly because long periods of sitting burn fewer calories and can lead to weight gain (47Trusted Source).
In fact, compared to sitting, an afternoon of standing up at work can burn an extra 174 calories (48Trusted Source).
If you have a desk job, try standing up for short periods to break up the length of time you spend sitting down. You can also invest in a standing desk (49Trusted Source, 50Trusted Source, 51Trusted Source, 52Trusted Source).
Sitting for a long time burns few calories and is bad for your health. Try to stand up regularly or invest in a standing desk.
6. Drink Green Tea or Oolong Tea
Green tea and oolong tea have been shown to increase metabolism by 4–5% (53Trusted Source, 54Trusted Source, 55Trusted Source).
These teas help convert some of the fat stored in your body into free fatty acids, which may increase fat burning by 10–17% (56Trusted Source).
As they are low in calories, drinking these teas may be good for both weight loss and weight maintenance (57Trusted Source, 58Trusted Source, 59Trusted Source).
It's thought their metabolism-boosting properties may help prevent the dreaded weight loss plateau that occurs due to a decrease in metabolism.
However, some studies find that these teas do not affect metabolism. Therefore, their effect may be small or only apply to some people (60Trusted Source, 61Trusted Source).
Drinking green tea or oolong tea may increase your metabolism. These teas may also help you lose weight and keep it off.
7. Eat Spicy Foods
Peppers contain capsaicin, a substance that can boost your metabolism (62Trusted Source, 63Trusted Source, 64Trusted Source).
However, many people can't tolerate these spices at the doses required to have a significant effect (65Trusted Source).
One study of capsaicin, at acceptable doses, predicted that eating peppers would burn around 10 additional calories per meal. Over 6.5 years, this could account for 1 pound (0.5 kg) of weight loss for an average-weight male (66Trusted Source).
Alone, the effects of adding spices to your food may be quite small. However, it may lead to a slight advantage when combined with other metabolism-boosting strategies (67Trusted Source).
Eating spicy food could be beneficial for boosting your metabolism and help you maintain a healthy weight.
8. Get a Good Night's Sleep
Lack of sleep is linked to a major increase in the risk of obesity (68Trusted Source, 69Trusted Source).
This may partly be caused by the negative effects of sleep deprivation on metabolism (70Trusted Source).
Lack of sleep has also been linked to increased blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, which are both linked to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes (70Trusted Source, 71Trusted Source, 72Trusted Source, 73Trusted Source).
It's also been shown to boost the hunger hormone ghrelin and decrease the fullness hormone leptin (74Trusted Source, 75Trusted Source, 76Trusted Source).
This could explain why many people who are sleep-deprived feel hungry and struggle to lose weight.
Lack of sleep can decrease the number of calories you burn, change the way you process sugar and disrupt your appetite-regulating hormones.
9. Drink Coffee
Studies have shown that the caffeine in coffee can boost metabolism by 3–11%. Like green tea, it also promotes fat burning (77Trusted Source, 78Trusted Source, 79Trusted Source).
However, this seems to affect lean people more. In one study, coffee increased fat burning by 29% for lean women, but only 10% for obese women (80Trusted Source).
Coffee's effects on metabolism and fat burning may also contribute to successful weight loss and maintenance (77Trusted Source, 81Trusted Source).
Drinking coffee can significantly increase your metabolism and help you lose weight.
10. Replace Cooking Fats With Coconut Oil
Unlike other saturated fats, coconut oil is relatively high in medium-chain fats.
Medium-chain fats can increase your metabolism more than the long-chain fats found in foods like butter (82Trusted Source, 83Trusted Source, 84Trusted Source, 85Trusted Source, 86Trusted Source).
In one study, researchers found that medium-chain fats increased metabolism by 12% compared to long-chain fats, which raised it by just 4% (87Trusted Source).
Due to the unique fatty acid profile of coconut oil, replacing some of your other cooking fats with it may have modest benefits for weight loss (88Trusted Source, 89Trusted Source).
Replacing other cooking fats with coconut oil may help boost your metabolism slightly.