Your metabolism is responsible for converting the food that you eat into energy, so your body can breathe, move, digest food, and repair damaged cells. When people use the word ‘metabolism’ in relation to burning calories, they’re generally referring to the basal metabolic rate.
Your basal metabolic rate controls how many calories you burn when resting. The higher your metabolic rate, the more calories you burn at rest.
Your metabolic rate is affected by various factors, including your age, diet, general health, and fitness level. However, there are a few methods you can use to boost your basal metabolic rate, which helps with safe weight loss.
Here are just some of the ways to boost your metabolism.
1. Eat Plenty of Protein
Eating regular meals can help keep your metabolism at a healthy level, and eating protein-rich meals has been shown to boost basal metabolic rate. Protein requires more energy to be expended to eat and digest it in comparison to carbohydrates or other food groups.
Plus, eating protein keeps you fuller for longer, so the more protein-rich your meals are, the less likely you are to snack on unhealthy foods for the rest of the day.
2. Incorporate Strength Training
Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so the better the muscle-to-fat ratio in your body, the more calories you’ll burn at rest.
You can strength train either by lifting weights or using your bodyweight in exercises such as squats and tricep dips. It’s best to start with bodyweight exercises or light weights before building up to heavier weights over time. Here are some strength training exercises to try if you’re a beginner.
For Your Upper Body: Beginners’ Push-Ups
1. Place your hands shoulder-width apart underneath your shoulders, with your lower body resting on your knees.
2. Bend your elbows and lower your chest towards the floor, keeping your back straight. Then, push upwards through your arms, returning to the starting position. Repeat for 12 reps.
For Your Lower Body: Lunges
1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
2. Step one foot forward and bend both your knees until they’re at a 90-degree angle.
3. Return to a standing position, then repeat the lunge with the other leg. Perform 12 alternating reps on each leg.
For Your Core: Bicycle Crunches
1. Lie flat on your back with your hands behind your head and your knees raised. Lift both feet off the floor.
2. Lift your head and shoulders towards one leg, try to touch your elbow to that knee, and as you do, extend that leg out in front of you.
3. Repeat on the other side, then continue for 12 reps.
3. Stay Hydrated
Drinking water can boost your metabolism and stave off feelings of hunger, making you less likely to eat unhealthy snacks between meals. Drinking one full glass of water before a meal will reduce the chances of overeating during that meal.
4. Try Herbal Teas
Some herbal teas - in particular green tea - have been shown to boost metabolism. Green tea helps to convert some of the fat stored in your body into free fatty acid. This conversion can increase the amount of fat burned when you exercise.
Plus, herbal teas are low in calories, so they’re a great alternative to sugary drinks for weight maintenance.
5. Stand Up Frequently
Sitting down for too many hours per day can negatively affect your health. Even if you go to the gym for an hour every evening, it doesn’t undo the effects of being sedentary for the rest of the day.
Standing more helps to keep your metabolism active. Aim to stand up for at least five minutes every hour, and go for a walk every few hours. If you work from home and struggle to find time to go for a walk, invest in a standing desk so you can burn calories and boost your metabolism from the comfort of your home office.
6. Get Seven or More Hours of Sleep
Lack of sleep can lead to long-term weight gain or a reduction in the ability to regulate weight. Not getting enough sleep can decrease the number of calories you burn and disrupt your appetite-regulating hormones to make you feel hungrier than usual.
Lack of sleep has also been linked to insulin resistance, which can disrupt your blood sugar levels and eventually lead to type 2 diabetes.
7. Try a HIIT Workout
High-intensity interval training (known as HIIT) involves intense bursts of activity done in a short period of time. HIIT workouts can be as short as ten minutes, but they’re incredibly effective at boosting metabolic rate, burning calories, and improving cardiovascular health.
There are many HIIT workouts available on YouTube, or you can create your own using a routine of exercises such as burpees, star jumps, and jump squats.
The Bottom Line
Maintaining a healthy metabolism is important for weight maintenance and general health. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and protein-rich meals all contribute to a high basal metabolic rate.