Simply put, the faster your metabolism is, the more calories you will burn per day.
Why is this important? Because, if your body is burning more calories…
It can allow you to eat more food.
The more calories your body burns per day, the more calories you can consume without running into problems. (Weight gain)
It can make weight loss faster/easier.
Even if a faster metabolism isn’t quite enough (in and of itself) to make your entire intended deficit exist, it’s still capable of contributing to that deficit (or adding on to) to some extent… thereby making weight loss happen some degree faster and/or easier.
It can prevent you from gaining weight.
We kinda touched on this benefit already in the first bullet point, but it’s worthy of its own. The faster your metabolic rate is, the more calories you’re capable of eating before the “calories in” side exceeds the “calories out” side. Because when that happens, a caloric surplus exists and the excess calories get stored (primarily) in the form of body fat.
It can lessen the amount of weight you gain.
Even if you can’t speed up your metabolism enough to completely offset the amount of calories you’re eating and fully prevent weight from being gained, it will at least minimise the degree of surplus that exists, which will minimise the amount of fat you gain and/or the speed at which you gain it.
In order to increase your metabolism, you need to either increase your Basal Metabolic Rate, Thermic Effect of Activity, Thermic Effect of Food, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or any combination thereof.
So, how do you do that? Here are 5 most significant ways…
How to Increase Your Metabolism
1. Gain More Muscle
450g (1 pound) of lean muscle burns about 6 calories per day at rest. So, one way to increase how many calories your body burns each day is by increasing the amount of muscle mass you have. In addition to boosting your metabolic rate, gaining muscle will also make your body look, feel and perform better in virtually every capacity you can think of.
2. Avoid Losing Muscle While Losing Fat
Ok, so this one doesn’t technically increase your metabolic rate. This is more about minimising how much it slows down while you lose weight, which is still useful and important.
As I’ve talked about many times before, we all use phrases like “weight loss” and “lose weight” even though the only thing we’re trying to lose is body fat.
This matters, because “weight” can be a lot of different things… including muscle. And it can be common for people to lose muscle along with fat during the weight loss process.
This is a problem for many reasons (e.g. your body looks worse, feels worse, gets weaker, etc.), one of which is the effect it has on your metabolism.
3. Eat More Protein
Our body burns calories digesting the food we eat. This is known as the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF).
All of the major macronutrients – Protein, Carbs and Fat – have some degree of thermic effect. It just so happens that protein has the largest of them all.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Fat: 0 – 3%
- Carbs: 5 – 10%
- Protein: 20 – 30%
What this means is, if you eat a food that contains 100 calories from protein, 20 – 30 of those calories will be burned during digestion. With fat or carbs, you would likely only burn 0 – 10 calories.
For this reason – along with the many other important benefits of protein (it’s a requirement for building muscle, a requirement for maintaining muscle, and a huge factor in controlling hunger – you’ll always want to ensure you’re eating an optimal amount of protein each day.
4. Increase Exercise Activity
Now for the most obvious way of increasing how much you burn: exercising more!
From weight training to cardio, from walking to sprinting, from soccer to basketball, and virtually everything in between… it all burns a meaningful amount calories.
And the longer you do the activity, the more often you do it, and/or the more intense the activity is, the more calories you will burn.
And not only will exercise burn calories while you’re doing it, but higher intensity forms of exercise will actually increase your metabolism in the hours/days after exercising thanks to something called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)… thereby causing you to burn even more calories.
5. Increase Non-Exercise Activity
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is basically every bit of movement and activity happening over the course of the day besides formal exercise. This includes everything from cleaning the house to fidgeting in your chair, and it can actually vary by quite a bit from one person to the next.
Ways to increase NEAT include:
- Stand more and sit less.
- Walk more and drive less.
- Take the stairs instead of the escalator.
- Get up every so often and walk around.
- Play more.
- Go outside more.
- Go more places, do more things.
- Be more active and simply move more in your everyday life.
- A pedometer, or a FitBit, or an app on your phone that tracks how many steps you take a day can be helpful here, as you can then try to gradually improve your numbers and thus how much you’re burning via NEAT.
So there you have it! Tried, tested and proven! 5 ways in which we can naturally boost our metabolism.