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Best Ways To Boost The Metabolism: Get Your Metabolism To Burn Hotter Than Hades

Updated on July 18, 2011
by muffet at flickr
by muffet at flickr

We all have a our own inherent fat-burning furnace--our metabolism. Whether we are naturally slender or tend to be a little softer all depends on whether our metabolism is naturally a glowing ember--or a raging inferno. But although our metabolism is in many ways handed down to us by fate--it depends on factors like age, gender, and ancestry--that doesn't mean there's nothing we can do to the fan the flames.

If we pare down all the scientifc language, metabolism simply means the rate at which the body burns energy in the form of calories. If you want to start boosting your metabolism, the first thing you need to do is calculate your body's RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate.) That will tell you how many calories your body would need to survive each day--if you spent each day at total rest. Then you can figure out how physically active you are and add calories accordingly. There's a high-tech equation for all this called the Mifflin-St Jeor equation, which looks like this:

RMR=9.99w + 6.25s -4.92a + 166g-161

where w equals your weight in kilograms; s equals your height in centimeters; a equals age in years; and g stands for gender: 1 for males and 0 for females.

Now you're ready to get that metabolism working like a Roman galley slave.

Hit The Weights

seth w. at flickr
seth w. at flickr

Exercise To Boost Your Metabolism

The best way to stoke up your metabolism is to strength train. Muscles are natural born calorie killers. They have a voracious appetite and demand a lot more energy than the other tissues in your body. If you take the time to build your muscles, they’ll repay the favor by melting fat all day, every day—even while you’re sleeping! A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research reported that women who lifted weights for an hour experienced a calorie “afterburn” effect that lasted 24 hours after the workout had ended.

Circuit training is the equivalent of drenching your metabolism in kerosene and then lighting a match. It activates all of the major muscle groups in your body at once and gets them all blazing through calories. A quick circuit training routine in the morning can keep your metabolism buzzing for the rest of the day. It’s a sweaty and heart-pounding workout, make no mistake. But it’s super fast and efficient—so you can get away with doing fewer crunches when you’re crunched for time.

When you circuit train, instead of resting between sets of an individual exercise, you do back-to-back sets of two or more different exercises with minimal or zero rest in between them. And in contrast to the more traditional exercise wisdom, which advises working different body parts on different days—like for example working your legs one day and your core the next— circuit training works all your muscles in one seamless workout session. For example, you might do a set of push-ups and then immediately move on to a set of lunges. When you’ve done one set of every move, you might rest briefly—and then you’ll start again from the beginning to hit all of those muscles again!

For a metabolism on the level of a nuclear explosion, do a minute or two of cardio—like jumping jacks or skipping rope—in between circuits.

Another great metabolism secret: interval cardio. Instead of doing long, grueling sessions of cardio at a moderate pace, try this: Do 1 minute of max effort--it should be difficult for you to speak. Then, do 2 minutes of an easy recovery pace. Repeat 6 times. If you're an advanced fitness buff, try 90 seconds max effort, 1 minute recovery. You can do this on the cardio machine of your choice. Interval training spikes the metabolism and targets abdominal fat especially.

Chilis Speed Up Your Metabolism Naturally

simonwhitaker at flickr
simonwhitaker at flickr

Eat To Boost Your Metabolism

It’s a myth that some foods “burn fat.” But every food does have something called a “thermic effect.” That’s a fancy way of saying that whenever you eat something, your body actually has to spend some calories in order to digest it. Thermic effect describes what percentage of the calories from a particular food will ultimately be burned up in the digestion process. You can sort of think of them like “free” calories. Of course, usually there will be plenty of surplus calories left over even after the thermic effect has burned a few of them. Lean protein has the best thermic effect: 30 %. So if you eat 100 calories of lean protein, like turkey or fish, 30 of those calories are automatically spent for you.

Chili peppers not only set your lips aflame, they can also do the same to your metabolism. According to the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, the tingle from that devilish substance capsaicin triggers the flight-or-fight response in your sympathetic nervous system—and that temporarily spikes your metabolism rate by over 20%. So if you can take the heat, start eating more chilies.

Like any internal combustion engine, your metabolism needs oxygen to perform. And it gets that oxygen from your blood. But if you start running low on iron, your blood won’t be able to give your metabolism what it needs—and things can grind to a halt. So eat plenty of iron rich foods like broccoli, spinach, and legumes.

The very worst thing you can do to your metabolism is to crash diet. Your body isn’t going to realize that you’re deliberately starving yourself to look good in that bathing suit this summer. Your body isn’t going to realize there’s plenty of food in the fridge. Your body is just going to assume that a second ice age has begun, it’s going to panic, and it’s going to hold on to every little calorie for dear life.

If you don’t give your metabolism enough fuel, it will slow down to a lull. That’s why you can have perfect attendance scores at your Weight Watcher’s meeting, why you can keep a food journal that’s thicker than War and Peace—and still not see the scale budge. Always eat a good breakfast to jumpstart your metabolism every morning, and remember it’s better to eat lots of smaller meals throughout the day then to just eat a huge dinner. This keeps your metabolism steadily fueled.

Finally, hydrate yourself! All the chemical reactions that take place in the body--including the processing of calories--require water as a medium. And make it ice cold water--according to the experts at Webmd, drinking cold water can give your metabolism a slight boost.

Work With Your Body, Not Against It

So there you have it. Instead of working against your body with crash diets, work with your body. Stoke up a smoldering metabolism and you'll be well on your way to a smoking physique.

If you want to learn more about the science behind your metabolism—ATP, glycogen and all that—here’s a one and half minute YouTube tutorial.


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    • profile image

      averagejoe 5 years ago

      Thanks for the very useful info. You make it much simpler than most of the web sites I have been to.

    • profile image

      increase metabolism naturally 6 years ago

      had you ever heard superslow training, it says build your muscle more important to boost your metabolism then cardio, what do you think?

    • a.l. laurice profile image

      a.l. laurice 8 years ago from United States

      ted: Thank you, glad I could help :)

      Coolmon: Yeah I never knew that either until recently-- I was doing some research for a biology's because they trigger your "fight-or-flight" response, pretty interesting.

      dashingclaire: Wow, chili peppers with every meal?! That's impressive! Thanks for stopping by :)

    • dashingclaire profile image

      dashingclaire 8 years ago from United States

      I eat chili peppers for nearly every meal including w/eggs for breakfast. I can feel the heat.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      Good article, very informative; I didn't know that chill peppers increase the metabolism.

    • ted122781 profile image

      ted122781 8 years ago from Texas

      Great Hub! Very informative. This is just what I was looking for.

    • a.l. laurice profile image

      a.l. laurice 8 years ago from United States

      Hello Tony, good to see you again and thanks for commenting!

      Thank you Dixie, and your advice is so true--little changes do add up.

    • Dixie W profile image

      Dixie W 8 years ago from Odessa, Texas

      This one will help a lot of people, if they put it into practice. Even little changes help. And if you pile them up a little at a time they help even more. Great hub.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 8 years ago from South Africa

      This was a very interesting Hub - and another reminder to me to do more exercise! Thanks for the push.

      Love and peace


    • a.l. laurice profile image

      a.l. laurice 8 years ago from United States

      Hello Tessaph! Chili peppers can boost your metabolism temporarily. Of course, just eating peppers won't help you lose a lot of weight-- but it can help burn some extra calories here and there. Thank you for reading and

      commenting :)

    • a.l. laurice profile image

      a.l. laurice 8 years ago from United States

      Thank you ladypant! Stop by anytime :)

    • ladypant profile image

      ladypant 8 years ago from Pensacola, FL

      Outstanding Hub...I've bookmarked it!

    • a.l. laurice profile image

      a.l. laurice 8 years ago from United States

      Thanks so much everybody for reading and for your wonderful comments! Glad you guys liked it! And thanks to everyone who voted lol :) being a hubnugget nominee was a lot of fun!

    • Katrina Ariel profile image

      Katrina Ariel 8 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      This hub is well written and has great info. Thanks! I think I'll recommend it to my Boot Camp participants!

    • C.V.Rajan profile image

      Disillusioned 8 years ago from Kerala, India

      A very informative hub, covering many aspects of metabolism, written in a very breezy style. Very well done!


    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 8 years ago from Great Britain

      This is very worthy of hubnuggets... well done for an informative hub!

    • samigail profile image

      samigail 8 years ago

      Excellent hub, motivated me no end :)

    • rls8994 profile image

      rls8994 8 years ago from Mississippi

      I am always trying to boost my metabolism. This was a lot of good information. I have also bookmarked this hub.

    • a.l. laurice profile image

      a.l. laurice 8 years ago from United States

      Thanks for stopping by Faybe Bay, glad you liked it!

    • a.l. laurice profile image

      a.l. laurice 8 years ago from United States

      Hello again Money Glitch! Thanks for reading!

    • Faybe Bay profile image

      Faye Constantino 8 years ago from Florida

      This is an excellent hub. Great information!

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 8 years ago from Texas

      Great info, I agree that chili peppers will definitely turn up the heat of your metabolism as well as broccoli and spinach. Thanks for sharing your insight and Congrats on being nominated to the HubNuggets Wannabe Contest for this week.

    • tingyi2521 profile image

      tingyi2521 8 years ago

      i know green tea can boost the metabolim.

    • a.l. laurice profile image

      a.l. laurice 8 years ago from United States

      Thank you CMHypno! Lol I can't argue with chocolate biscuits...I guess I always just like to think that as long as I work out I'm still allowed to eat sweets :) but if you ever do find a chocolate biscuit metabolism booster please let us know!

    • a.l. laurice profile image

      a.l. laurice 8 years ago from United States

      Thanks so much for the hubnugget nomination ripplemaker! And I did vote lol, I voted for a hub in every category :)

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 8 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Very interesting and well written Hub - but why does it always come down to weight lifting and lean protein? I'm still waiting for the chocolate biscuits and laying on the sofa metabolism booster! Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Work with your body and not against it. Wise words! Congratulations to your Hubnugget nomination! See it here: Vote okay?

    • a.l. laurice profile image

      a.l. laurice 8 years ago from United States

      Thanks, Caribe and Trish! Glad you guys liked it.

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 8 years ago from The English Midlands

      I have bookmarked this :)

    • CaribeM profile image

      CaribeM 8 years ago

      A very didactic and helpful Hub. Thanks for sharing.

    • a.l. laurice profile image

      a.l. laurice 8 years ago from United States

      Sandyspider: glad you liked it!

      Fastfreta: Thanks so much for reading and bookmarking! I do have to warn you those peppers are pretty hot! (Or maybe I'm just a wimp.)

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      One of my favorite type of hubs, any thing weight or health related. I can't do the circuit training, but I do see some other tips that I can incorporate in my routine. I don't eat the peppers, but I'm going to try them now. Thank you very much. I love this hub. Bookmark time!

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Sound advice.