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How to Increase Your Metabolism

How to Increase Your Metabolism

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

If you're trying to lose weight, increasing your metabolism can enable you to lose more weight without cutting more calories. The commercialism surrounding "metabolism-enhancing products" has made it difficult to separate fact from fiction (or advertising), but here you can find a few research-based suggestions.


  1. Understand what metabolism is. In the simplest terms, metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories. Very few people have a slow metabolism, and overweight individuals generally have fast metabolisms because their fat cells are consuming energy.[1] However, a faster metabolism will enable you to lose more weight than your friend, even if you both have the same activity level, diet, and weight.
  2. Determine what is influencing your metabolism. There are some factors that you can change, and some factors that you can't.
    • Age - metabolism decreases five percent per decade after age 40[2]
    • Sex - men generally burn calories more quickly than women because they have more muscle tissue[2]
    • Heredity - you can inherit your metabolic rate from previous generations[2]
    • Thyroid disorder - hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) can slow down or speed up metabolism, but only 3 and .3 percent of the population have hypo- and hyperthyroidism.[3]

  3. Calculate your resting metabolic rate (RMR). RMR is often used interchangeably with basal metabolic rate (BMR); although they are slightly different, estimating either is sufficient for the purpose of losing weight. To calculate your RMR, use the Mifflin-St Jeor equation (which is more reliable than the Harris-Benedict equation[4]). There are also calculators online that can do this for you:
    • RMR = 9.99w + 6.25s - 4.92a + 166g-161
    • w = weight in kilograms; if you know your weight in pounds, divide by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms
    • s = height in centimeters; if you know your height in inches, multiply by 2.54 to get your height in centimeters
    • a = age in years
    • g = gender = 1 for males, 0 for females

  4. Adjust your diet accordingly. Your RMR will tell you how many calories you need to maintain your body at rest. Your daily consumption to maintain your weight should be:[5]
    • RMR x 1.15
    • E.g. RMR = 2000, so the maintenance intake is 2000 x 1.15 = 2300
    • To lose weight safely, do not exceed your maintenance intake or have a caloric intake lower than your calculated RMR.
    • Count calories by recording what you eat and looking up how many calories each food item contains (either on the food packaging or in tables provided in books or online).

  5. Eat small, frequent meals. Extending the time between meals makes your body go into "starvation mode," which decreases your metabolism as a means to conserve energy and prevent starvation. Skipping meals does not help you cut calories or lose weight; in fact, people generally eat less overall when they eat small, frequent meals. In addition to having four to six small meals per day[6] eating healthy snacks will also increase metabolism.[2]

  6. John lost 353 lbs. and burned 1,200,000+ calories

    Drink water. As with food, depriving your body of water can encourage it to "hoard" rather than "burn". More than ninety percent of the chemical reactions in your body occur in water, so make sure you drink an appropriate amount of water.
  7. Boost metabolism temporarily with aerobic exercise. Different activities burn different quantities of calories, but the important thing is to raise your heart rate and sustain the activity for approximately thirty minutes.
  8. Boost metabolism in the long run with weight training. Muscle burns more calories than fat does (73 more calories per kilogram per day, to be exact)[2] so the more muscle you build, the higher your resting metabolic rate (RMR) will be. Every muscle cell that you gain is like a little factory that constantly burns calories for you, even while you sleep, and revs up when you exercise. This is the only way to increase RMR, which accounts for 60 to 70 percent of the calories you burn daily.[7]



  • There are no "fat-burning" foods. You might've heard that certain foods (e.g. celery and grapefruit) increase metabolism, but it's just a myth.[6] While some foods and drinks such as red peppers and green tea have been studied for their potential metabolism-increasing properties, there is no conclusive evidence that whatever influence they have on metabolism is significant enough to result in weight loss.[2] However, some believe that certain extremely low-calorie foods, such as celery, cause the body to burn more calories in the act of consumption than are absorbed by the body. Still, half an hour of walking will burn many more calories than half an hour of chewing celery.
  • Some sugar substitutes may adversely affect metabolism and weight loss.[8]
  • Very low-carb diets are said to burn more calories because the body expends energy in a system of changing fats and proteins into glucose. This system of chemical reactions is called the "krebs-cycle" or "tricarboxylic acid cycle." It is necessary because the human body uses several forms of glucose for all energy requirements, all the time, even when you do not consume carbs. Krebs is also called the "Citric Acid Cycle." It is found in aerobic metabolism, the breakdown of proteins, fats and carbohydrates from food eaten to create the energy pathway at the cellular, mitochondrial level.
  • If you try the low-carb approach, be sure to take multi-vitamins. Include healthful fats such as monosaturated fat (olive and canola oil) and essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Drink eight 8-oz. glasses of non-carbonated water (including tea and coffee) per day.
  • Be careful with dairy products if you are following the Atkins diet. Milk and products made with milk contain lactose, a carbohydrate. Yogurt has natural milk sugars in addition to fruit and sweeteners such as sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup. Consider getting your calcium from cheese. Some cheeses may have nearly zero carbohydrates. Avoid low-fat dairy products. Whole milk has 11 carbs[9]; skimmed milk has 12.3 carbs.[10] Whole milk also provides the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA and is the most significant food source of CLA,[11][12] a heart-healthy fat that may help increase your metabolism, lose more fat, and build more muscle. A unique animal fat, the fat in milk is rich in short- and medium-chain fatty acids that may help lower cholesterol.[11] Short- and medium-chain fatty acids (especially those in coconut oil) have long been promoted for weight loss and can easily be burned for energy. In a nine-year study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, whole milk and cheese helped prevent weight gain in women who had one or more servings a day while low-fat milk did not.[13] Low-fat yogurt or low-fat ice cream may have more sugar to compensate for the loss of taste. Soy products can also be an excellent substitute for dairy while you are on the Atkins diet. Plain soy milk has seven net carbs and one gram of fiber.[14]
  • Always consult a dietician or doctor before making a major change in your diet and exercise routine.


  • Avoid smoking as a weight-loss method. While nicotine is a metabolism booster and appetite suppressant, the health hazards far outweigh any benefits.
  • Expect your metabolism to slow down as you lose weight. The more weight your body is carrying, the more calories your body has to burn in order to sustain itself, even at rest. When you begin restricting your calorie intake, you'll lose weight relatively easily because your body's high caloric needs are not being met. But after you begin to shed the weight, the body has less mass to carry and thus needs fewer calories. In order to continue losing weight, you will have to restrict your caloric intake even further in order to maintain a difference between what your body needs and what you are providing.[2] Let's go through a hypothetical example:
    • You are 200 lbs and your body needs 2500 calories a day to sustain itself.
    • You cut down your caloric intake to 2000 calories.
    • You lose 25 lbs. Now your body only needs 2250 calories to sustain itself because it's carrying less weight.
    • If you continue with your 2000 calorie per day diet (the diet that helped you lose the first 25 lbs) you will still be losing, but at half the speed. In order to maintain a steady weight loss you will need to reduce your caloric intake further. However, it is at the utmost importance you do not try to consume fewer calories than your RMR!
    • Another possible problem: If you continue with your 2000 calorie per day diet (the diet that helped you lose the first 25 lbs) you may actually gain weight back because of varying levels of exercise. Let's say you lose 50 lbs. on your 2000 calorie diet. Your sustaining calories might be 1800. You're actually consuming enough calories to gain weight, but how would that happen if you had stayed on your diet? This can happen when your exercise has burned through many calories. If you slowed on exercise at this point you would actually gain weight again. The point here is to recheck your RMR when you lose weight and compare it to your consumption.

  • Don't overdo your diet or exercise program. Losing more than a pound a week can be detrimental to your health. As mentioned above, check with a physician or a nutritionist to determine what would be considered appropriate weight loss for your level of fitness before you start a new exercise or diet plan.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

  1. Slow Metabolism: Is It to Blame for Weight Gain?

  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6

  3. Thyroid Pathology. Auburn University. 2002. Pages 5 and 16

  4. David Frankenfield, Lori Roth-Yousey, and Charlene Compher. May 2005. Comparison of Predictive Equations for Resting Metabolic Rate in Healthy Nonobese and Obese Adults: A Systematic Review. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 105(5):775-789

  5. Sharon A. Plowman and Denise L. Smith. Exercise Physiology for Health, Fitness, and Performance. Page 236

  6. 6.0 6.1

  7. Boost Your Metabolism

  8. Diets. The Merck Manual

  9. Whole Milk at CalorieKing

  10. Skimmed Milk at CalorieKing

  11. 11.0 11.1

  12. R.C. Khanal and K.C. Olson. 2004. Factors Affecting Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Content in Milk, Meat, and Egg: A Review. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition 3 (2): 82-98

  13. Magdalena Rosell, Niclas N. HÃ¥kansson, and Alicja Wolk. December 2006. Association between Dairy Food Consumption and Weight Change over 9 y in 19 352 Perimenopausal Women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 84(6): 1481-1488

  14. Plain Soy Milk at CalorieKing

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Increase Your Metabolism. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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