Your metabolism is indicated by your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is how much energy you expend while at rest. Basically, even if you aren’t doing anything at all, you’re still burning calories, but the amount you burn is both finite and varied. You can calculate your BMR using the Harris-Benedict equation, which takes an estimated BMR value and multiplies it by your activity level. It’s super easy to figure out using an online BMR calculator like this one.
Once you know your number, you’ll know how much to eat in order to maintain your weight. For example, a 25-year-old woman who is 170cm tall and weighs 65 kilos burns 1,479 calories a day, which means she needs to eat at least that much to maintain her weight or eat less to lose weight. As you age, you naturally lose muscle mass, which slows down the rate at which you burn calories. Additionally, there are other factors that cause slower metabolism, like inadequate sleep, long bouts of inactivity, or more serious conditions like hypothyroidism.
There are literally hundreds of products on the market that promise to speed up your metabolism and aid weight loss. However, many of their ingredients are untested and unverified. Instead of turning to a quick solution, try these six natural (and safe) ways to boost your metabolism instead.
Spice up Your Life
If you are decidedly opposed to eating spicy food, you may want to change your tune – it turns out that spicy food can temporarily boost your metabolism by eight percent over your normal rate by naturally raising your core body temperature. Additionally, spicy food also increases how full you feel after a meal, which also helps you eat less. The thermogenic – or energy-burning – effect of spicy food comes from capsicum, which is a family of plants that include chili peppers, bell peppers, jalapeños, and habaneros.
Any kind of physical activity will speed up your metabolism, but if you want a solution that’s a little more long-lasting, try pumping iron. It is a proven fact that increasing your muscle mass increases your metabolism. Similarly, adding lean muscle can also reduce insulin resistance and lower your risk for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and obesity.
Your body contains several types of fat: brown fat that burns energy, thereby creating heat and maintaining the body’s core temperature, and white fat that stores energy. Studies have shown that cold environments trick white fat cells into behaving like brown fat, meaning they switch from storing energy to burning energy. Not only that, but cold temperatures also increase metabolic activity and the volume of brown fat, meaning a cold room or office is much better for boosting your metabolism than a warm one.
Eat a Protein-Rich Breakfast
Did you know that your body burns more calories digesting protein than it does fat or carbohydrates? That’s one of the main reasons why nutrition and fitness experts recommend starting your day with a protein-rich meal. Health and wellness guru Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Body, swears by this method for boosting metabolism and increasing weight loss, and recommends getting at least 30 grams of healthy protein within the first 30 minutes of waking up. Whether you embrace a breakfast of eggs or simply work more protein into your daily diet in general, adding more protein to your meals definitely helps your metabolism.
Hit the Hay
Most living organisms behave according to something called the circadian rhythm, which is a physiological process that dictates when you should sleep and eat, and accordingly schedules important functions like hormone production, brain-wave activity, and cell regeneration. That means disrupting your circadian rhythm on the regular can have dire consequences for your health.
Your circadian rhythm is an integral part of managing your metabolism. Think of it as a central clock that controls your body’s essential functions. When you get too little or even too much sleep, it resets the clock, causing major problems for your brain, your organs, and your belly. When you disrupt the circadian cycle, you cause metabolic imbalances that can increase weight gain and slow your metabolism way down.
To solve this problem, you need to do more than just get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep – you need to sleep and wake at the same time every day. Furthermore, your sleep will be more restful and in line with circadian rhythms if you go to sleep before midnight. That means an 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. cycle is absolutely ideal.
Take the Right Supplements
There are all manner of supplements on the market that claim to boost your metabolism.There are also thermogenic ingredients like caffeine, taurine, and ephedrine that can impact your metabolism. However, all of these compounds – especially when taken in large doses – can wreak havoc on your adrenal glands, which cause your body to generate stress responses.
Instead of dosing yourself with supplements and energy drinks (although a cup or two of coffee or caffeinated tea are totally fine), we recommend investing in a few vitamins and minerals that really work. A B-Complex vitamin is an amazing source of metabolism-boosting energy, as are CoQ10, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin D. For the best results, take a once-daily multivitamin that covers all the bases, and make sure to get roughly 15 minutes of direct sunshine a day to increase your intake of vitamin D naturally.