Can you really boost your metabolism?

Can you really boost your metabolism?

Can you really boost your metabolism?

Supercharge your metabolism! Boost your calorie-burning power and lose weight! You’ve seen all sorts of headlines like these, right? Yeah, us too. We’re here to break down the science about what you can and can’t control about your metabolism and how it could impact your weight care journey.

The Found Team
Last updated:
October 31, 2022
5 min read
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Supercharge your metabolism! Boost your calorie-burning power and lose weight! You’ve seen all sorts of headlines like these, right? Yeah, us too. We’re here to break down the science about what you can and can’t control about your metabolism and how it could impact your weight care journey. 

The basics of metabolism

Here’s a little 101 for you: A lot of us think that metabolism is just related to weight. If you burn calories more slowly, you’re apt to be heavier, and vice versa. But that’s not exactly how it works. Metabolism is made up of a series of chemical reactions that happen in the body. They allow your brain and muscles to function properly, help you breathe, and digest food and turn it into energy. And they determine the total amount of energy you expend (in other words, the number of calories you burn) each day.

Metabolism can be broken down into three categories:

1. Activity energy expenditure

This is just what it sounds like—how much energy you use to do daily activities. It includes exercise like yoga, cycling, swimming, and daily activities like washing dishes, folding laundry, or lugging your groceries into the kitchen. (Whether you're a make-it-in-one trip person who piles 50 bags on your arms or you like to make multiple trips.)

2. Thermic effect of food

Believe it or not, it takes energy to chew, digest, and absorb the food you eat. And that’s what the thermic effect of food is—the number of calories it takes to do this process multiple times a day.

3. Basic metabolic rate (BMR)

This is the total number of calories your body burns, even when you’re just sitting on the couch scrolling through the gram. Think about a parked car that has its engine on. The car will still use fuel even though it’s idle. It’s the same with your body. Your BMR energy burn comes from bodily processes like circulating blood, secreting hormones, and breathing.

How metabolism impacts weight

Contrary to what you may have heard, research shows that excess weight is not due to a slow metabolism. In fact, people with obesity tend to burn more calories at rest and throughout the day than those with lower BMIs, because larger bodies require more energy 24/7. (We know, we know—surprising but true.) Your gender, race, hormones, diet, fitness level, and body composition also influence your metabolism. But the most significant factor influencing your metabolism is your genetics—which you have no control over.

So can you change your metabolism?

Short answer: Not really. But stay with us here. Even though supercharging your metabolism may not be entirely possible, studies show that there are ways to at least give it a bump. And what’s arguably more important is to maintain your current metabolic health. Take a look:

  1. Prioritize sleep
    Even a few nights of poor sleep can temporarily slow down your metabolism. But it can bounce back if you start logging adequate Zzzs again. So shut off those electronics a little earlier and turn on some white noise. Do what you can to improve your sleep routine, so you can hit seven or more hours of quality sleep each night.
  2. Eat a balanced diet
    This may seem obvious, but extreme calorie restriction isn’t a good idea. It may result in short-term weight loss but will likely backfire in the long run, leading to increased cravings and overeating. Focus on eating balanced meals (check out the Found plate) each day. Why? Because of the thermic effect of food. Your metabolism increases temporarily after each meal, and more energy is needed to break down protein, fat, and carbohydrate than just carbs alone. And that means more overall calories burned! 
  3. Support your gut health
    Your microbiome helps regulate your metabolism by producing hormones that aid digestion, nutrient absorption, insulin secretion, and appetite—each an important weight care factor. If your gut microbiome isn’t healthy, this process might be compromised. Eating plenty of fruit, beans, and fermented foods such as yogurt (look for ones with live cultures and no added sugars) or sauerkraut can help support the good bacteria in your GI tract. Learn more about what to do for a healthy gut here. While you’re at it, check out some gut-healthy foods and recipes. (You’ll thank us later!)
  4. Do regular resistance training
    This is one of the most impactful things you can do to goose your metabolism. Here’s why: Your muscles require more energy to maintain than fat. By adding resistance training to your exercise routine—ideally at least twice a week—you can gain more lean muscle. And that means you’ll burn more calories every day, even at rest. Plus, research suggests that strength training could lessen the effects of metabolic adaptation. This is when your body lowers its calorie burn in response to weight loss—it’s a survival mechanism. Talk about a win-win! Check out our 4-week strength plan designed for all fitness levels to learn ways to get stronger.  
  5. Move more in general
    This is another metabolic biggie. Non-exercise-related movement is arguably the most variable component of your metabolism—and probably the easiest to change in your daily life. You use energy whenever you check the mail, sing, pet your dog, or fidget,. Over time, these low-level activities add up and significantly impact your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). One review of literature on the subject in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that this may account for up to 2,000 extra calories burned in a day. It could also reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular events, and death. Woah! So use that standing desk, take the stairs, and take time between meetings to get in a quick stretch. The options are endless! It’s just about moving.  

One last point: Regardless of how fast or slow your metabolism is, research shows that it’s not the strongest predictor of your ability to lose weight. Eating a balanced diet, being more active, and taking weight loss medication if it’s right for you are the most significant contributors to weight loss success and maintenance.


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Published date:
October 31, 2022
Meet the author
The Found Team
The Found Team

Sources

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