A person’s metabolism is the rate at which their body burns calories for energy. The speed of metabolism depends on a variety of factors, including age, sex, body fat, muscle mass, activity level, and genetics.
While a person has no control over the genetic aspects of their metabolism, there are some ways to help speed up the rate at which the body processes calories.
Eating at regular times
The body relies on balance and regularity. Eating at consistent times may help maintain metabolic balance. Otherwise, if a person eats a lot, then goes for long periods without eating, the body may burn calories more slowly and store more fat cells. By eating at regular times, a person can reduce this tendency. Ideally, a person should eat several small meals or snacks about 3 or 4 hours apart.
Eating enough calories
Some people skip meals as a way to lose weight. However, this can negatively impact metabolism. Eating meals that are not filling can have the same effect. Eating too few calories can cause a person’s metabolism to slow down so the body can conserve energy. Adult women need between 1,600 and 2,400 calories a day, depending on their physical activity levels, and men need between 2,000 and 3,000.
Drinking green tea
While studies have not conclusively proven it, some research indicates that green tea extract may play a role in promoting fat metabolism. Green tea can be a good alternative to sugary juices, and drinking it can help ensure that a person is getting enough water during the day. While the metabolic benefits are not certain, 1–2 cups a day can be a healthful addition to a balanced diet.
Doing resistance training
Strength training helps build muscle, which may increase metabolism. Muscle mass has a higher metabolic rate than fat, which means that muscle mass requires more energy to preserve. A person’s body naturally loses muscle as they age. Regular resistance training can help counteract this effect. Resistance training may involve lifting weights and doing exercises that use the weight of the body or resistance bands to build muscle.
Drinking enough water
Staying hydrated is essential for the body to function at its best. Water is necessary for optimal metabolism, and it may help a person lose weight. One study found that adding 1.5 liters of water to the usual daily consumption of water reduced the average weight and body mass index in a group of overweight women aged 18–23.
Stress affects hormone levels, and it can cause the body to produce more cortisol than usual. Cortisol is a hormone that helps regulate appetite. In 2011, researchers found abnormal cortisol levels in people experiencing disordered eating. Disordered eating, including dietary restraint and certain weight concerns, may lead to unhealthful eating patterns, which can disrupt metabolism. Stress is also closely related to the quality of sleep, which can influence metabolism.
Trying high-intensity workouts
Like strength training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can increase metabolism. A person may benefit from adding elements of both to a workout. HIIT is an alternative to steady cardio. Running, swimming, or cycling at a continuous rate are examples of steady cardio. Instead, it may help to try a routine that involves alternating periods of higher-intensity and lower-intensity exercise. This might involve sprinting for 1 minute then walking for 2 minutes or switching between short bursts of jumping jacks and walking recovery periods.
Getting plenty of sleep
When a person gets too little sleep, the body releases a hormone, ghrelin, which can make a person feel hungry. It also releases less leptin, a hormone that helps a person feel full. Getting enough sleep can help ensure that these hormones remain balanced. This can prevent a person from overeating. While the right amount of sleep varies among individuals, research suggests that adults need at least 7–8 hours per night.
Getting enough B vitamins
B vitamins play an essential role in the metabolic rate. Some key B vitamins include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), and B6 (pyridoxine).
B vitamins are in many foods, including:
- baked potatoes
- orange juice
- peanut butter
- whole-grain foods