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Can You Trick Your Body Into Burning More Calories? The Truth About Boosting Your Metabolism, Plus Effective Hacks and the Ones to Ignore

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

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Are you curious how many calories your body burns each day? 

Understanding your metabolism is the secret to unlocking your weight management and fitness goals. 

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While there are many myths, a few proven strategies can give you a metabolic edge. 

Discover the science behind metabolism, how it influences your health, and learn the most effective ways to boost yours for better results. 

Understanding Metabolism

Metabolism, or metabolic rate, refers to the total energy expenditure of the body daily. It is a crucial factor for anyone aiming to lose fat or build muscle. Metabolic rates vary extensively between individuals, even among those of the same sex, height, and weight. 

A landmark 2022 study published in Science demonstrated that daily energy expenditure is highly individual. 

For instance, at the same body weight, one person’s metabolism could burn 1,400 calories per day, while another’s could reach 5,700 calories.

Why Boost Your Metabolism?

1. Weight Loss and Management

A faster metabolism burns calories at a quicker rate, which can help in losing weight and, importantly, in maintaining weight loss. People with a higher metabolic rate tend to find it easier to stay lean or lose weight without extremely restrictive diets.

2. Increased Energy Levels

Higher metabolic rates often result in more energy being available to the body throughout the day. This can lead to improved stamina and vitality, making it easier to perform daily tasks and enjoy physical activities.

3. Enhanced Mood

Physical activity and a healthy diet—both related to metabolic health—can improve mood and mental health. This is partly due to the release of endorphins during exercise and the improved brain function associated with better nutrition and physical health.

4. More Efficient Processing of Nutrients

An efficient metabolism helps the body to better process and utilize the food you eat, converting it into energy more effectively. This can enhance nutrient absorption and reduce the likelihood of fat storage, leading to better overall health.

5. Improved Immune System and Disease Prevention

A healthy metabolism supports the immune system and can reduce the risk of developing certain diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. Metabolic health is linked with reduced inflammation, better hormone regulation, and improved blood sugar control.

6. Support for Healthy Aging

As we age, our metabolic rate naturally slows down, which can contribute to weight gain and decreased energy levels among older adults. Boosting metabolism through diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices can help counteract these effects of aging, promoting longevity and better quality of life in later years.

7. Recovery and Healing

An efficient metabolism helps in faster recovery from illness or injury. It supports the body in healing and rebuilding tissues, enhancing recovery times after medical treatments or physical injuries.

Effective Methods to Boost Metabolism

1. Muscle Building

Muscle tissue is metabolically active, burning more calories than fat tissue. One pound of muscle burns approximately six calories per day at rest, compared to two calories for a pound of fat. Gaining muscle mass can significantly increase your daily calorie expenditure. For example, adding 30 pounds of muscle could increase your daily burn by around 180 calories, equivalent to the calorie content of about four kiwis.

2. Cardiovascular Exercise

Despite some energy compensation where the body may reduce other forms of calorie burn, cardiovascular exercise effectively increases overall daily calorie expenditure. For every 100 calories burned through cardio, about 72 calories contribute to the net increase in total energy burned.

3. Increase Protein Intake

Consuming a higher proportion of calories from protein can enhance the thermic effect of food, which is the energy required for digestion, absorption, and disposal of nutrients. Protein causes the largest rise in TEF (Thermic Effect of Food), increasing your metabolic rate by 15-30% compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats.

4. Stay Hydrated with Cold Water

In addition to the benefits mentioned, staying hydrated can increase your metabolism temporarily. Studies have shown that drinking 500 ml of water increases metabolic rate by about 30% within 10-40 minutes of consumption.

5. Get Adequate Sleep

Lack of sleep is linked to a significant increase in the risk of obesity. This may partly be mediated by the negative effects of sleep deprivation on metabolism. Maintaining a good sleep schedule can enhance your overall metabolic rate and reduce the risk of weight gain.

6. Incorporate High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT involves quick and very intense bursts of activity. This type of exercise has been shown to help you burn more fat by increasing your metabolic rate, even after your workout has finished, a phenomenon known as “afterburn” or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

7. Drink Coffee or Tea

The caffeine found in coffee and tea may boost metabolism by increasing the rate at which your body burns calories. Studies suggest that the caffeine in coffee can boost metabolism by 3–11%, with larger doses having a greater effect.

8. Stand More

Long periods of sitting have been linked to obesity and metabolic disease. Standing up more often can help burn more calories and prevent these negative effects. Some studies show that standing can burn 50 more calories per hour than sitting.

9. Eat Spicy Foods in Moderation

As mentioned, capsaicin, a compound found in chili peppers, may boost your metabolism. However, many people can’t tolerate these spices at the doses required to have a significant effect.

10. Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s balance blood sugar and reduce inflammation, helping to regulate metabolism. They may also reduce resistance to the hormone leptin, which researchers have linked to how fast fat is burned.

Ineffective or Dubious Methods

1. Saunas and Cold Exposure

Both sitting in a sauna and exposure to cold do increase calorie burn slightly, but the effects are minimal and not significant enough to have real impacts on weight management.

2. Meal Frequency

Increasing the number of meals does not significantly affect metabolism. Studies have shown that total calorie intake remains the key factor in metabolic rate, regardless of how those calories are spread throughout the day.

3. Green Tea and Supplements

While green tea is often touted for its metabolic boosting effects, studies show only minimal impacts that do not translate to significant fat loss over time.

Practical Tips and Recommendations

To avoid drastic metabolic slowdown, avoid severe caloric restrictions. Aim for a gradual weight loss of about 0.5 to 1 percent of body weight per week. Incorporating non-exercise activities, such as walking more and using stairs, can also help increase daily calorie burn without much effort.

Using tools like the Macro Factor app can provide customized dietary recommendations based on individual metabolic rates, making it easier to manage calorie intake effectively.

Conclusion

While certain strategies can help boost your metabolism, the impact of these methods varies. Building muscle and consistent cardiovascular exercise are among the most effective methods. However, for long-term health and fitness, focusing on sustainable lifestyle changes and realistic expectations is more beneficial than seeking quick fixes.

About

Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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