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Does it feel like you’re gaining more weight than usual? Craving junk food? Or maybe you’ve always been convinced you have a slow metabolism. Whatever the reason, you’re wondering how to reset your metabolism. The good news is there are things you can do. Keep reading for 10 proven strategies.
Factors that affect metabolism
Your metabolism describes the rate at which your body burns calories. It’s responsible for breaking down the protein, fats, and carbohydrates you eat and converting them into energy, body tissue, and fat (Sánchez López de Nava, 2021). Lots of things impact your metabolism, including (McMurray, 2014; Yu, 2021):
- Your size: People with excess body fat tend to have slower metabolisms, while those with more muscle mass have faster metabolisms.
- Your sex: Biological females tend to have lower muscle mass and slower metabolisms than biological males.
- Your age: If you’ve noticed you put on more pounds than you did in your 20s, you’re right. Your metabolism slows down as you age.
- Your level of physical activity: Higher levels of physical activity can increase your metabolism.
- Your diet: The types of food you eat can also impact your metabolism. For example, protein can help you build more muscle mass and may positively affect metabolism.
- Your overall health: Certain health conditions, such as cancer or obesity, can negatively affect metabolism.
Some of these factors are within your control, while others are less so. As much as you might want to, you can’t reverse the aging process, for example. However, you do have some control over your body composition and muscle mass, both factors that affect your metabolism (McMurray, 2014).
You can also ensure you get enough sleep. That’s right; the amount of sleep you get may also impact your metabolism. The same internal body clock—your circadian rhythm—that dictates your sleep cycles also regulates your metabolism, appetite, and hormone levels. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can slow down your metabolism. Too little sleep can also raise your levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone that makes you want to eat even more (Copinschi, 2014).
How to increase metabolism with exercise, food, and lifestyle changes
10 ways to jumpstart metabolism
While you can’t control all the factors that influence your metabolism, some things are within your control. Ready to reset your metabolism? Try these tips.
It may seem counterintuitive, but the act of eating actually jumpstarts your metabolism. Starving yourself, on the other hand, often has the opposite effect. If you stop eating, your body slows down your metabolism to keep your weight stable (Müller, 2015). While you’re at it, don’t skip breakfast, especially if you’re a morning exerciser. Eating breakfast before working out may increase your metabolism (Edinburgh, 2018).
2. Follow a schedule
Following a schedule can help ensure you get enough food and quality sleep while reinforcing your natural circadian rhythm. Intermittent fasting, which involves restricting your food intake to a set period (usually 8–12 hours), may improve sleep and prevent weight gain (Melkani, 2017).
3. Practice strength training
Strength and resistance training can help increase muscle mass and your resting metabolic rate. You’re not limited to weightlifting, either. Resistance training that uses your body weight can also work (MacKenzie-Shalders, 2020).
4. Get your cardio in
5. Move around
Non-exercise activities like cleaning your house or simply standing up from your desk also burn calories. Scientists call this non-exercise activity-induced thermogenesis, or NEAT for short (Chung, 2018). Consider this your excuse to take more breaks during your work day!
Exercise, weight, and fertility: what’s the connection?
6. Drink coffee or tea
7. Stay hydrated
Water keeps you hydrated, but it turns out it may boost your metabolism as well. According to one study, drinking just over six glasses of water a day may increase metabolism by 30% for up to 40 minutes afterward (Vij, 2013).
8. Eat plenty of protein
Protein helps you build and maintain muscle, which can help with weight loss. People with more muscle mass naturally burn more calories because muscle mass is more metabolically active than fat (McMurray, 2014).
9. Throw a little spice into your diet
Chili peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin, which may decrease your appetite and belly fat. They may also raise metabolism, resulting in up to 50 extra calories burned daily (Whiting, 2012).
10. Chill out
When you’re stressed, your body holds onto more fat. People who are chronically stressed may notice an increase in appetite and a decrease in metabolism (Oster, 2020). Getting more sleep can lower stress cortisol levels, as can mindfulness meditation (Nollet, 2020; Worthen, 2021).
Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals for weight loss
You can take simple steps to improve your metabolism. Get started with these tips and see what works for you.
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Dr. Chimene Richa is a board-certified Ophthalmologist and Senior Medical Writer/Reviewer at Ro.