True or false: your metabolism is fixed. The answer is actually a bit complicated. While much of our metabolism is dictated by genetics and age, we may have some influence on how our body processes energy. These five small tweaks to your healthy lifestyle can add more fire to your internal calorie-burning furnace over time.
Resting metabolic rate (RMR) refers to the number of calories the body burns each day at rest, not including regular lifestyle activities or extra calories working out. It accounts for nearly two-thirds of the body’s daily caloric burn. This means that a majority of the calories you consume are used by the body to simply exist: activities like breathing, thinking, and digesting all need energy to occur. The “rate” at which the body burns calories is largely determined by genetics and age, but lifestyle factors like nutrition and exercise habits can help shape its speed.
Add some spice
Consuming foods that naturally contain spicy flavors, or adding spice to dishes, has been demonstrated to give the metabolism a slight boost. Capsaicin, the phytochemical compound found in the seeds of chili peppers, for instance, has thermogenic properties (i.e. heat-producing), which may stimulate the body to burn more fat. Just a small sprinkle of cayenne powder a healthy dish can provide enough heat to have an effect.
Drink green tea
ECGC, a compound found in green tea, has been studied extensively for its cardiovascular and metabolic benefits. While research has been inconclusive on its effect on weight loss, it has been shown to speed up the metabolism by providing a natural source of caffeine. Other health benefits include improved cholesterol and relief from arthritis, just be careful not to exceed 330 mL of the compound in one day and avoid supplements, as ingredients and concentrations are often unclear and unregulated.
Train with HIIT & weights
By now you know a sedentary lifestyle is a first-class ticket to poor health. Same goes with a poor metabolism. Ramping up the heart rate with interval training once or twice a week can increase calorie burn for hours after a workout has ended. Regular weight training can also speed up the metabolism over time by increasing muscle mass (muscle tissue burns calories at a higher rate per day than fat tissue). Add both to your routine to naturally burn more calories each day.
Amp up protein
Nutritional changes, like shifting the proportion of macronutrients in your diet, can have an effect on how many calories the body burns. Consuming foods that take more energy for the body to break down means it will require more calories for processing. The body needs more energy to break down protein compared to carbs, so amping up the proportion of protein in your diet (without going over your daily caloric intake) can help speed up the metabolism naturally.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Water is essential for metabolic health. The body must use energy to warm fluids to body temperature and even a small amount of dehydration can affect metabolic rate, as the body compensates for dehydration by slowing down the metabolism. Also, studies have shown an increase in lipolysis (fat loss) with hydration which can infer an increase in metabolism. This may be explained by an increase in cell volume due to hydration. It is recommended for men to consume around 13 cups of water and for women to consume 9 cups to reach adequate hydration levels and maintain a healthy metabolic rate.
In many cases, any attempt to change body composition can be thwarted by the assumption that we are “stuck” in a given metabolic rate, but that isn’t necessarily true. Lifestyle factors like what we eat and how we move every day can have a substantial effect on how the body processes energy. By making small, incremental changes in our daily routine that compound over time, we can start to make profound changes in our body and overall health.
Curious about your metabolic rate? Talk to our experts about measuring your RMR and start making lifestyle changes to reach your health goals!
This article is not intended to provide medical advice. If you have questions regarding your personal metabolic health, contact your doctor.