When your computer starts slowing down or acting up, chances are you’ll turn it off and turn it back on again. Sometimes a reset is exactly what’s needed to fix your problems and start fresh.
And while there’s no on/off switch for your metabolism, there are ways to trigger a restart when your body’s system becomes sluggish. If you’ve been thinking to yourself, “I need to find out how to reset my metabolism,” you’re in the right place.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at metabolic rate and the factors that affect it, as well as what you can do to take control of your metabolism.
How Does Metabolism Affect Your Weight?
The truth is that while your metabolism plays an important role in regulating body weight, it’s not the only factor to consider. You will also have to consider the correlation between stress and weight gain, as well as sleep and weight loss. Some even experience hormonal weight gain.
With that in mind, the road to your optimal weight starts with a well-rounded knowledge of all causes of weight gain and weight loss—including your metabolism.
Metabolism and Metabolic Rate
Your metabolism is like the power plant of your body. The complicated internal process that converts calories from meals into energy is known as metabolizing. Whenever you eat or drink, your body converts this fuel into the energy you expend throughout the day.
When you do anything that requires energy, your metabolism kicks in. But even when you’re at rest, your body burns calories for survival. Unconscious actions like breathing and digesting food demand a certain amount of energy. This ever-present base level of energy expenditure is called your resting metabolic rate (or basal metabolic rate).
There are some aspects of your metabolism that you can control (which we’ll discuss later), but there are also factors that are inherently tied to your biology. These include:
- Body type – It’s important to know that muscle tissue burns more calories than fat cells. Therefore, those with a more muscular body composition will have a higher resting metabolic rate than those with more fat or higher leptin levels.
- Age – Because we often lose muscle mass as we age, our metabolism slows accordingly.
- Sex – As males tend to have more muscle mass than females of the same weight and age, their metabolisms will typically run faster.
- Hormones – Hormones and weight gain are inextricably connected, especially when it comes to your metabolism. While it’s possible to alter the balance of hormones in your body through hormone therapy and other programs, their levels are largely out of your direct control. Hormones like leptin and ghrelin play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy metabolism.
What are the Disadvantages of Having Slow Metabolism?
Because excess calories are stored in the body as fat, the speed at which your body metabolizes food and drink—both at rest and during your HIIT workout or any other exercise—is critical to sustained weight loss and breaking your weight loss plateau.
Without oversimplifying too much, a faster healthy metabolism makes it easier to burn more calories than you consume. This means a quick metabolism can help you lose weight—though it’s certainly not the only answer to shedding pounds.
In the same vein, a slow metabolism isn’t doing you any favors if you want to lose weight. Your body is still taking the energy it needs from your diet, but if it can’t process all of your calories fast enough, you may find yourself putting on fat.
Can Metabolic Rate Change Over Time?
People with slow metabolisms are at somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes to weight loss.
Luckily, metabolism is far from an unchangeable force.
As mentioned, your metabolic rate changes naturally as you age. When you get older, your skeletal musculature’s volume decreases, and your percentage of body fat increases due to this metabolic function slowdown. The gradual decline of your metabolic rate is due to several factors, hormonal and otherwise.
The good news is that your metabolism can also change for the better.
While a quicker metabolism doesn’t happen overnight, effort and conscious decision-making can influence—or even reset—your metabolic rate.
What Can You Do to Restart Your Metabolism?
Since your metabolic rate influences your weight, restarting your metabolism can be an essential step in your weight care journey. And while there aren’t any magic words or quick-fix solutions, metabolic improvement is entirely possible.
Below, we’ll cover how to restart your metabolism in four steps.
Step 1: Partake in Regular and Varied Exercise
You may have noticed a trend earlier: the more muscles you have, the higher your metabolic rate. This truth means that building muscle is one way to kickstart your metabolism.
Next, we’ll cover the exercises to incorporate into your lifestyle and the metabolic benefits that come with them.
Incorporating some strength training into your workout routine is a terrific way to fire up your metabolism.
- Building muscle will increase your resting metabolic rate in the long run.
- You’ll also benefit from a short boost in metabolic rate post-workout.
- One study found a 4.2% increase in resting metabolic rate even 16 hours after exercise.
This means that strength training has both short- and long-term value.
Choose a Cardio Activity
Just like with strength training, a short cardio workout has immediate benefits. Running, biking, swimming, and other cardio exercises or physical activity can burn additional calories when compared to a resting rate. Plus, regular cardio is associated with improved cardiovascular health and lung capacity.
And, just like strength training, cardio has a lasting effect on metabolic rate. Ten male subjects were asked to cycle vigorously for 45 minutes for a study. The researchers found that their energy expenditure (or resting metabolic rate) remained higher than normal for 14 hours after their workout.
Try a HIIT Workout
High-intensity interval training (HIIT for short) is a form of exercise that involves short bursts of maximum energy. While HIIT enthusiasts will list many positive outcomes from this type of workout, the most important of all may be related to your metabolism.
Hours after a HIIT-style running exercise, researchers found a 450% increase in hGH (human growth hormone). As hHGH stimulates metabolic processes, HIIT may have additional benefits that a regular workout doesn’t.
What does all this mean? Regular exercise—even in short bursts—can have significant, lasting positive effects on metabolic rate.
Step 2: Change Your Eating Habits
Your metabolism converts food into energy. Naturally, then, your diet will have an impact on the way your metabolism functions.
One potential trick is to eat a diet high in protein. A protein-rich diet has been linked to changes in hormone secretion, alterations in gluconeogenesis, and an increase in the thermic effect of food. Translation: protein can jumpstart your metabolism.
Try incorporating more high-protein foods into your diet, such as:
- Meat and fish
Say Yes to Spicy Foods
There’s also good news for those who like it hot. Some studies suggest that capsaicin (a substance found in spicy peppers and other foods) can trigger a boost in metabolic rate. While the effects are relatively minor, it all adds up, so don’t forget the hot sauce at dinner tonight!
Step 3: Change Your Drinking Habits, Too
How many of your calories come from drinks? If you’re not keeping track, it’s possible that your favorite smoothie or soft drink is adding unnecessary fuel to your body.
Beyond that, some of your favorite beverages may have an impact on your metabolic rate.
To reset your metabolism, you may want to alter your drinking habits, too.
To start, try to limit your intake of alcoholic beverages.
- Alcohol can affect your digestive function and your hormone levels.
- Excessive alcohol will rapidly increase your calorie intake.
- Overconsumption can also damage the liver, whose job is to metabolize fats and carbs.
Use Caffeine in Moderation
There’s some evidence to suggest that caffeine consumption can provide a slight boost in metabolic rate.
A daily cup or two of coffee or tea can suppress your appetite, as well as increase your resting energy usage.
This is because caffeine plays into thermogenesis—the generation of heat and energy from the processing of food.
Just be careful not to rely on caffeine, since adequate sleep is also key to a healthy metabolism (as we’ll cover more under Step 4).
Drink Plenty of Water
Though the odd cup of coffee or alcoholic drink is fine, you should aim to drink mostly water throughout the day. Not only is water a zero-calorie option, but it’s also a tool you can use to boost your metabolism.
In one study, subjects who consumed 500mL of H20 were found to have a 30% higher metabolic rate between 10 and 40 minutes afterward. This means that continuous water consumption all day long can have significant effects.
Step 4: Sleep the Recommended Amount
There is a well-known link between sleep and metabolism. Short or poor-quality sleep has been associated with metabolic slowdown. When people don’t sleep enough, the result is often a hormone imbalance or a dip in calories burned.
As such, adults should aim for around eight hours of quality sleep each night. You’ll feel well-rested, alert, and—above all—metabolically fired up.
Found: A Comprehensive Approach to Metabolism, Weight Loss, and Health
The above tips are a solid start to a metabolic reset, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg—and unlikely to bring you rapid weight loss right away.
The best approach to a metabolic restart—and weight care in general—is a comprehensive one. Accounting for hormones, fitness, healthy diet, neurobiology, stress, and more is the key to a successful weight care plan.
At Found, we take this kind of personalized weight care to the next level. By leveraging modern science and combining prescription medication with support, we’re able to craft an individualized online weight loss program just for you.
We’d love to get to know you and see if Found is the answer you’ve been looking for. Take the quiz today and determine which path is right for you.
NCBI. Aging, basal metabolic rate, and nutrition. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8361073/
NCBI. Effect of acute resistance exercise on postexercise oxygen consumption and resting metabolic rate in young women. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10939877/
NCBI. The time course of the human growth hormone response to a 6 s and a 30 s cycle ergometer sprint.
NCBI. A 45-minute vigorous exercise bout increases metabolic rate for 14 hours.
BioMed Central. A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats.
NCBI. Effect of spiced food on metabolic rate. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3957721/
Mayo Clinic. Does caffeine help with weight loss?NCBI. Water-induced thermogenesis. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14671205/