If you are trying to lose weight, increasing metabolism naturally can enable you to lose more weight without cutting more calories.
“Metabolism-enhancing products” has made it difficult to separate fact from fiction, but you can find a few research based tips to increase metabolism naturally.
Understand What Metabolism is
In the simplest terms, metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories. Very few people have a fast metabolism. A faster metabolism will enable you to lose more weight than a person with the same activity level, diet, and weight.
Determine what is influencing your metabolism! There are some factors that you can control and change, and some factors that you can’t.
Heredity: You can inherit your metabolic rate from previous generations.
Thyroid disorder: Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) can slow down or speed up metabolism, but only 3% and .3% of the population have hypo- and hyperthyroidism respectively.
Age: Metabolic rate decreases 5% each decade, after the age of 40, partly because of decreased muscle mass.
Gender: Men generally burn calories more quickly than women because they have more muscle tissue.
Weight: Different tissues of your body contribute different amounts to resting metabolism. Muscle contributes more than fat per unit mass and, because it is denser than fat, muscle contributes much more per unit volume, but this may not be practically significant.
Estimate your RMR (resting metabolic rate). RMR is often used interchangeably with BMR (basal metabolic rate). Although they are slightly different, estimating either is sufficient for the purpose of losing weight. What these equations will show you is, that if you weigh more, your RMR will be higher. To calculate your RMR, use the Mifflin-St Jeor equation (which is more reliable than the Harris-Benedict equation). There are also calculators online that can do this for you:
RMR = 9.99w + 6.25s – 4.92a + 166g-161
w = weight in kilograms; if you know your weight in pounds, divide by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms;
s = height in centimeters; if you know your height in inches, multiply by 2.54 to get your height in centimeters;
a = age in years;
g = gender = 1 for males, 0 for females.
Increase Metabolism with Diet and Exercise
Adjust your diet accordingly. Your RMR will tell you how many calories you need to maintain your body at rest. Your daily consumption to maintain your weight should be:
RMR x 1.15 (E.g. RMR = 2000, so the maintenance intake is 2000 x 1.15 = 2300).
To lose weight safely, do not exceed your maintenance intake or have a caloric intake lower than your calculated RMR.
Count calories by recording what you eat and looking up how many calories each food item contains (either on the food packaging or in tables provided in books or online).
Do not starve. The worst thing you can do to your metabolism is starve yourself. Consuming a very low-calorie diet that robs your body of enough energy to satisfy its basic functions will plunge your metabolism into slow motion. Ensure you are consuming at least 1,200 calories per day for women and 1,500 for men to meet your basic metabolic needs.
Eat small, frequent meals. Extending the time between meals makes your body go into “starvation mode,” which decreases your metabolism as a means to conserve energy and prevent starvation. While some people are able to lose weight through intermittent fasting, most people generally eat less overall when they eat small, frequent meals. In addition to having four to six small meals per day eating healthy snacks will also increase metabolism.
Increase metabolism temporarily with aerobic exercise. Different activities burn different quantities of calories, but the important thing is to raise your heart rate and sustain the activity for approximately thirty minutes.
Increase metabolism in the long run with weight training. Muscle burns more calories than fat does (73 more calories per kilogram per day) so the more muscle you build, the higher your resting metabolic rate (RMR) will be. Every muscle cell that you gain is like a little factory that constantly burns calories for you, even while you sleep, and revs up when you exercise.
This is the only way to increase RMR, which accounts for 60 to 70 percent of the calories you burn daily.
From a recent conservative estimate one can extrapolate that in one year a person with 2.2 kg more muscle will burn calories corresponding to 1 kg of fat due to this muscle mass. Young healthy men typically have 35 to 50 kg of muscle mass so the most muscular men in the range burn extra calories relative to the least muscular corresponding to 6.8 kg (15 pounds) of fat per year.
Get enough sleep. Studies show that chronic lack of sleep can slow the metabolism, increase appetite and increase risks of obesity and weight gain. Aim to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night so you wake up feeling refreshed, replenished and ready for the day ahead. This will definitely increase metabolism!
Foods to Incorporate
Increase Metabolism with Green tea. Green tea contains a type of antioxidant called catechins, which have been shown in studies to reduce body weight and waist circumference. Green tea is also packed with cancer-fighting compounds that can benefit anyone’s diet, at any age.
Increase Metabolism with Chili Peppers. Chili peppers contain bioactive chemicals called capsinoids. Studies have shown that the consumption of capsinoids increased energy expenditure (the amount of heat you produce internally and your external physical activity level) by 50 calories a day. Adding a bit of spice to your meals can also help reduce belly fat and appetite.
Increase Metabolism with Coffee (caffeinated or decaffeinated). Small amounts of caffeine have been shown to boost your metabolism through stimulation of your central nervous system. But make sure you are drinking the right amount. A cup of coffee (with about 150 mg of caffeine) is often enough to benefit from metabolic effects. Too much coffee can lead to trouble sleeping, upset stomachs or irregular heartbeats.
Increase Metabolism with Protein foods. The body experiences a significant elevation in metabolic rate right after eating a meal, called the “thermic effect of food”. In other words, our bodies need extra energy to digest, absorb and transport all the nutrients after consuming proteins. When you eat protein, it needs the most time to metabolize (at least 20 to 30 per cent of your body’s energy). Eating fish, lean meats, eggs and plant protein like beans and soy will keep your metabolism accelerated for hours after your meal.
Increase Metabolism with Iron-rich foods. Iron is an essential mineral that helps transport oxygen to tissues throughout the body. Iron also helps our bodies make energy — low iron levels can lead to fatigue, loss of appetite, anemia (not enough red blood cells) and slow down your metabolism. Foods rich in iron include oysters, mussels, beef, lamb, fish and poultry. Plant sources of iron include pumpkin seeds, lentils, tofu, chickpeas and other beans.
Increase Metabolism with Vitamin D. A study conducted last year showed that those with low vitamin D levels gained more weight. There is still uncertainty as to how vitamin D contributes to weight management; however, studies have suggested low vitamin D levels may lead to fat accumulation. Looking for natural ways to get vitamin D? Get outside or eat some salmon.
Do not overdo your diet or exercise program. Losing more than a pound a week can be detrimental to your health. Check with a physician or a nutritionist to determine what would be considered appropriate weight loss for your level of fitness before you start a new exercise or diet plan.
If you are pregnant or nursing, your caloric needs are increased. Speak to your doctor or midwife before restricting your diet or any specific food group.
Some sugar substitutes may adversely affect metabolism and weight loss.
There are no “fat-burning” foods. You might have heard that certain foods (e.g. celery and grapefruit) increase metabolic rate, but it is just a myth. While some foods and drinks such as red peppers and green tea have been studied for their potential metabolic rate increasing properties, there is no conclusive evidence that whatever influence they have on metabolism is significant enough to result in weight loss.
However, it has been proven that all foods do have what is called the thermic effect. Foods with protein have a 30% thermic effect, and are the most thermal of all foods. So that means if you eat a 100 calorie portion of meat, 30 calories from the food are required to break down the fibers in the protein and to properly digest it.
Foods with higher amounts of fiber also have a high thermic effect. This is why people who eat 40% protein 40% carbohydrate and 20% mainly monounsaturated fat diets do very well, especially if they are carbohydrate sensitive and/or endomorphs.