Your metabolism determines your daily energy needs and how efficiently you burn calories. If you increase your energy needs by raising your metabolism but don't add more calories in the form of food and beverages, you'll end up with a caloric deficit, which leads to weight loss. Certain factors that determine your metabolic rate, specifically age, gender and height, can't be changed. You can increase your metabolism through other external factors, though.
Steps 1, 2 and 3: Exercise Techniques
A body that has a higher percentage of muscle mass has a higher metabolic rate. Increase muscle mass by adding strength training to your exercise routine. If you already strength train, consider lifting differently. Use whole-body moves, such as barbell squats, deadlifts, lunges and push-pull exercises, to challenge all the muscles in your body and bring about a metabolic afterburn -- meaning you burn calories for hours after you've put down your last weight.
During cardio or aerobic activity, trade in a few of your weekly steady-state sessions for high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. When you alternate all-out intense work for several seconds or minutes with periods of more moderate activity, you stimulate metabolic effects in your muscles that help you burn more fat and carbohydrates, reported a study in a 2008 issue of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. You'll need to keep up the HIIT training several times per week for at least six weeks for noticeable results.
Steps 4 to 7: When and What You Eat
Every time you eat, you burn calories through digestion, absorption and transportation of the food. Eating small, frequent meals every three to four hours can thus stimulate a small metabolic boost. Make sure one of these meals is breakfast; registered dietitian Megan Moore told Today's Dietitian that breakfast speeds up the metabolism in the morning and releases you from a fasting metabolic rate. At all meals, avoid foods high in sugar, saturated fats and artificial sweeteners. These ingredients slow digestion, and potentially your metabolism, registered dietitian Lisa M. Cohn revealed on NBC News. Instead, aim for foods high in fiber and water, which stimulates digestion and thus increases the number of calories you burn metabolizing your food.
Steps 8, 9 and 10: Include More Protein, Spice and Caffeine
Meals with an emphasis on protein can also improve your metabolic rate by raising thermogenesis, the metabolic calorie-burning processing of food, reports a review published in a 2004 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Ginger, capsaicin and black pepper added generously to foods may give your metabolism a little rise, explains a 2005 paper published in Physiology & Behavior. This paper went on to suggest that caffeinated coffee consumed with breakfast, or other meals, can raise your metabolic rate for two hours.
Steps 11 and 12: Move More
People who fidget, or spontaneously move often, can have a metabolism that burns up to 800 extra calories per day, reports the Riverside Medical Clinic. Tapping your foot, wiggling your fingers and regularly shifting in your chair are examples of such movements. More conscious movements that help you burn more calories and raise your daily metabolic rate include taking the stairs instead of an elevator, pacing while you're on the phone instead of sitting still and getting off a bus or train a stop early instead of riding all the way to your destination.
Steps 13 and 14: Lifestyle Tricks
Your body's metabolism increases in colder weather because your system has to work harder to keep you warm. In the cold weather months, consider exercising outdoors and keeping indoor temperatures just a little chilly to kick your metabolism into a higher gear. Dehydration can make your metabolism drop, Dr. Scott Isaacs told Health magazine. Hydrate with ice water, which requires your body to expend a few extra calories to warm it up.
- Riverside Medical Clinic: Metabolism and Weight Loss
- NBC News: Can You Really Change Your Metabolism
- Health: 9 Foods That Boost Metabolism Naturally
- Experience Life: Rev Up Your Metabolism
- Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism: High-Intensity Aerobic Interval Training Increases Fat and Carbohydrate Metabolic Capacities in Human Skeletal Muscle
- Today's Dietitian: Rise and Dine!
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: The Effects of High Protein Diets on Thermogenesis, Satiety and Weight Loss: A Critical Review
- Physiology & Behavior: Metabolic Effects of Spices, Teas, and Caffeine