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Improve Metabolism and Lose Weight

Updated on September 1, 2012

If you blame weight gain on a sluggish metabolism, there are a number of ways to increase your metabolic rate. To better understand how the ways to boost metabolism it is first important to understand what it is to help identify whether or not it is the problem.

Drink green tea to improve your metabolism.
Drink green tea to improve your metabolism.

What Is Metabolism?

In simple terms, metabolism works like a regulator. It manages the way your body burns energy. This energy is measured in units called calories. When you eat more calories than you burn, it leads to weight gain, and when you burn more calories than you eat, it leads to weight loss. Not everyone's metabolism burns calories at the same rate, but there are steps you can take to improve metabolism and lose weight.

Understanding Your Basal Metabolic Rate

To increase your metabolism, first it is important to figure out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the amount of calories you burn to sustain life. Your basal metabolism provides energy to keep your heart beating, as well as other bodily functions you don't even think about. You burn calories while you sleep or sit watching TV. Online calculators can help you figure out your BMR, or you can use these formulas to figure it out yourself:

Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)

Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in year)

When you boost your BMR, it means you burn more calories while at rest. Most people's BMR slows after age 40, and this is one reason it is easier to gain weight as you grow older.

Ways to Boost Metabolism

Improving your metabolism can be accomplished through exercise and diet.


Brisk physical exercise can boost metabolism for hours following a workout. This type of exercise is known as aerobic exercise. Examples of aerobic exercises include activities like:

  • Aerobic dancing
  • Cycling
  • Jogging
  • Power walking
  • Running
  • Stair climbing
  • Swimming

High intensity exercise that pushes you can boost your resting metabolism more than low or moderate-intensity workouts. However, before you start any exercise program, it is important to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider to discuss what exercise is best for you.

Another way to improve your metabolism is to include resistance training in your exercise regime. Exercises that build muscle can help raise your BMR, because a pound of muscle burns 6 calories while at rest. A pound of fat only burns 2 calories each day. That means muscle is your friend when it comes to boosting your metabolism. With regular resistance training and weight bearing exercise you can create a leaner body that burns more calories even when you're sleeping.

Beans (legumes) are a source of lean protein.
Beans (legumes) are a source of lean protein.

Lean Protein

It takes more calories for your body to digest protein than it does to process fat or carbohydrates. If you switch out refined carbs with lean protein, it can help increase your metabolism. Lean protein includes foods like:

  • Beans
  • Chicken (white meat)
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lean beef
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Nuts
  • Tofu
  • Turkey

Drink Water

Every healthy diet reminds us to drink water, but did you realize dehydration can actually slow your metabolism. In one study, participants' metabolism increased by 30% after drinking 17 ounces of water. Stay hydrated to improve your metabolism.

Spicy foods like red or green chilies can raise your metabolism.
Spicy foods like red or green chilies can raise your metabolism.

Add Spice to Your Diet

For a quick boost in metabolism add spice to your menu with a tablespoon of green or red chili. The food you choose can make a difference.

Green Tea

Clinical studies have shown green tea helps provide a short term boost to metabolism and helps burn fat. Some researchers suggest the polyphenols in green tea are what gives it a fat burning advantage.

Balanced Approach

Along with boosting your metabolism, it is important to know how many calories you're taking in. The bottom line is that eating more than your body burns leads to weight gain. To successfully lose weight and keep it off, a balanced diet with reasonable portions combined with regular exercise will help you drop the extra pounds. Yes, your metabolism plays a role, but if your eat an extra 3,500 calories more than you burn, it adds up to another pound on the scale.


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    • Donna Sundblad profile image

      Donna Sundblad 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for reading and taking time to leave a comment.

    • ActiviaUK profile image

      ActiviaUK 6 years ago

      Some great tips and advice on here. Things like just drinking 2 litres of water can increase your metabolism significantly. Of course exercise is the biggest way to increase your metabolic rate - and eating the types of food which your body processes most efficiently. Eating a daily probiotic can also help to increase your metabolism - it assists the body in breaking down food so that it is processed more quickly. Probiotics can be found in Activia yogurts and come in a variety of flavours and types - from snack pots to more indulgent.

    • Donna Sundblad profile image

      Donna Sundblad 6 years ago from Georgia

      Protein powder is a good source of protein, but for those who want to get their protein through the foods they eat, lean options are best.

    • sallyhatcher profile image

      sallyhatcher 6 years ago from Golden, Colorado

      To improve metabolism,your body need pure form of protein and that you can only get from natural protein powder like :

    • Donna Sundblad profile image

      Donna Sundblad 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks thoughtforce, appreciate hearing from those who read, and it's a double positive when you find it useful and vote it up!

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      I have been thin all my life, up until for three years ago when I noticed how I suddenly began to gain weight. So I feel quite new to this problem:) I love to exercise and I try to reduce carbohydrates. Thanks for these tips, voted up useful!