Metabolism is the process by which your body converts food and drink into energy. It affects how many calories you burn throughout the day and how fast or slow you lose or gain weight.
Many factors influence your metabolism, such as your age, sex, genes, hormones, muscle mass and activity level. Some of these factors are beyond your control, but others can be modified by your lifestyle choices.
If you want to boost your metabolism and burn more calories, here are some natural ways to do so.
1. Eat enough calories
One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight is eating too few calories. This can backfire by slowing down your metabolism and making your body conserve energy.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, eating too few calories can cause your metabolism to slow down by up to 23%. This means you burn fewer calories at rest and during activity.
To prevent this, you need to eat enough calories to meet your basic needs and support your activity level. According to current dietary guidelines, adult females aged 19 and over need 1,600–2,400 calories a day, depending on their physical activity levels, and males need 2,000–3,000.
However, these are only general estimates and may vary depending on your individual factors. You can use an online calculator to estimate your calorie needs more accurately.
2. Eat more protein
Protein is an essential nutrient for your health and metabolism. It helps build and maintain muscle mass, which is the main factor in determining your basal metabolic rate (BMR), or the number of calories you burn at rest.
Protein also has a higher thermic effect than other macronutrients, meaning it requires more energy to digest, absorb and metabolize. According to a 2014 review, protein can increase your metabolic rate by 15–30%, compared with 5–10% for carbohydrates and 0–3% for fats.
Eating more protein can also help you feel fuller for longer and reduce your appetite. This can help you eat fewer calories and lose weight more easily.
Some good sources of protein are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, nuts and seeds.
3. Drink more water
Water is vital for your health and metabolism. It helps transport nutrients and oxygen to your cells, flush out toxins and waste products from your body, regulate your body temperature and lubricate your joints.
Water also has a thermogenic effect, meaning it increases your metabolic rate and calorie burning. According to a 2010 study, drinking about 16 ounces (500 ml) of water can boost your metabolic rate by 30% for up to an hour.
Drinking more water can also help you stay hydrated and prevent dehydration, which can slow down your metabolism and impair your physical and mental performance.
Drinking more water can also help you reduce your calorie intake by replacing sugary drinks and filling up your stomach. This can help you eat less and lose weight more easily.
The amount of water you need depends on various factors, such as your age, weight, activity level and climate. A general rule of thumb is to drink at least eight glasses of water a day, or more if you are active or sweat a lot.
4. Exercise regularly
Exercise is one of the best ways to increase your metabolism and burn more calories. It not only burns calories during the activity itself but also increases your muscle mass and BMR over time.
According to a 2018 review, exercise can increase your BMR by 7–9% for up to 24 hours after the session. The effect is greater for high-intensity or long-duration exercises than for low-intensity or short-duration ones.
Exercise also has many other benefits for your health and well-being, such as improving your cardiovascular fitness, strength, endurance, flexibility, mood and cognitive function.
The type and amount of exercise you need depends on your goals and preferences. However, a balanced routine that includes both aerobic (cardio) and anaerobic (strength) exercises is recommended for optimal results.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week, plus at least two sessions of strength training that target all major muscle groups per week.
Some examples of aerobic exercises are walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing and sports. Some examples of strength exercises are lifting weights, doing bodyweight exercises, using resistance bands or machines and doing yoga or pilates.
5. Drink green tea
Green tea is a popular beverage that has many health and metabolic benefits. It contains antioxidants called catechins, which can enhance your fat burning and energy expenditure.
According to a 2012 review, drinking green tea can increase your metabolic rate by 4–5% and your fat oxidation by 10–16%. The effect is mainly attributed to the combination of caffeine and catechins in green tea.
Drinking green tea can also help you stay hydrated and reduce your calorie intake by replacing sugary drinks. This can help you eat less and lose weight more easily.
The amount of green tea you need to drink to boost your metabolism may vary depending on the type and quality of the tea, as well as your individual response. However, most studies suggest drinking 2–4 cups of green tea per day for optimal results.
6. Get enough sleep
Sleep is essential for your health and metabolism. It helps regulate your hormones, repair your tissues, consolidate your memory and optimize your brain function.
Sleep also affects your energy balance and appetite. According to a 2010 review, lack of sleep can disrupt your circadian rhythm and alter the levels of hormones that control hunger and satiety, such as ghrelin and leptin.
This can increase your hunger, cravings and calorie intake, as well as reduce your energy expenditure and calorie burning. This can lead to weight gain and metabolic problems over time.
Getting enough sleep can help you maintain a healthy metabolism and prevent or reverse these effects. It can also help you feel more rested, alert and motivated to exercise and eat well.
The amount of sleep you need depends on various factors, such as your age, lifestyle and health condition. However, most adults need about seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night for optimal health and performance.
Some tips to improve your sleep quality and quantity are:
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule and routine.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and heavy meals close to bedtime.
- Make your bedroom dark, quiet, comfortable and cool.
- Turn off or limit the use of electronic devices before bed.
- Do some relaxing activities before bed, such as reading, listening to music or meditating.
7. Eat spicy foods
Spicy foods are foods that contain capsaicin, which is a compound that gives chili peppers their heat. Capsaicin can stimulate your thermoreceptors, which are nerve cells that sense changes in temperature.
This can trigger a thermogenic response in your body, meaning it increases your metabolic rate and calorie burning. According to a 2017 review, capsaicin can increase your energy expenditure by 50 calories per day on average.
Eating spicy foods can also help you reduce your appetite and calorie intake by increasing your satiety and fullness. This can help you eat less and lose weight more easily.
The amount of spicy foods you need to eat to boost your metabolism may vary depending on the type and amount of capsaicin in the food, as well as your individual tolerance. However, most studies suggest eating 1–3 grams of capsaicin per day for optimal results.
Some examples of spicy foods that contain capsaicin are chili peppers, cayenne pepper, paprika, curry powder and hot sauce.
8. Drink coffee
Coffee is another popular beverage that has many health and metabolic benefits. It contains caffeine, which is a stimulant that can increase your alertness, energy and performance.
Caffeine can also increase your metabolic rate and calorie burning by stimulating your nervous system and enhancing your fat oxidation. According to a 2018 review, caffeine can increase your energy expenditure by 3–13%, depending on the dose and individual response.
Drinking coffee can also help you reduce your appetite and calorie intake by suppressing your hunger hormones and increasing your satiety hormones. This can help you eat less and lose weight more easily.
The amount of coffee you need to drink to boost your metabolism may vary depending on the type and strength of the coffee, as well as your individual tolerance. However, most studies suggest drinking 3–4 cups of coffee per day for optimal results.
However, keep in mind that coffee also has some potential drawbacks, such as causing insomnia, anxiety, jitteriness or heart palpitations in some people. You should also avoid adding too much sugar, cream or other high-calorie ingredients to your coffee, as this can negate its benefits.
By following some simple and natural ways, you can boost your metabolism and burn more calories. This can help you achieve your weight loss goals and improve your health and well-being.
Some of the ways to increase your metabolism are eating enough calories, eating more protein, drinking more water, exercising regularly, drinking green tea, getting enough sleep, eating spicy foods and drinking coffee.
However, keep in mind that metabolism is only one of the factors that affect your weight and health. You also need to consider other aspects of your lifestyle, such as your diet quality, portion control, stress management and emotional well-being.