8 science backed steps to boost your metabolism and start losing weight today.
This article will empower you with everything you need to know about your metabolism, how it slows with age, how it causes weight gain and how to change it to speed up weight loss.
I always direct everyone that asks me for weight loss advice to this one post. It has everything you need to know about your metabolism and detailed steps on how to speed it up to lose weight.
You will be surprised at how easily this can be achieved.
What exactly is your metabolism and how it affects weight loss?
In order to fully understand how to increase your metabolism we have to summarise the basics of your metabolism in the simplest way possible.
Your metabolism is a combination of all the processes that produce, use and store energy in our bodies.
It is the combination of the energy we produce via food, the energy we use for all our daily activities and the excess energy that we store for emergencies and for later use.
A healthy balanced metabolism creates an energy balance that will produce and use energy as required by our bodies and there will be just the right amount of energy for storage therefore maintaining a healthy weight.
When this balance is thrown off by poor nutrition and bad habits, we end up with excessive energy that is stored as fat and results in weight gain.
Grouping the uncountable number of metabolic processes into energy production, usage and storage groups allows us to pin point areas that can be tweaked and manipulated to promote an energy deficiency that causes weight loss.
The Metabolic Equation for Weight Loss
A. Energy Production
The first part of the metabolic equation is energy production. This is the creation of energy from the food we eat. We have to eat to produce energy for the various processes and activities that keep us alive.
The actual process for the creation of this energy is complicated and it involves the entire digestion process that takes food from our mouth to our git systems where it is digested and transported into our blood. From there it is further processed by the various cells in our body into ATP.
Atp is the end product of this process, it is a form of energy that only our cells use to run all their processes. There are many parts of the energy production group that can be targeted to cause an energy deficit and weight loss.
The obvious and most used method is to restrict the amount of food that we eat. However, this is actually counterproductive given our modern lifestyles and deep rooted survival mechanisms to eat to survive.
There are much smarter ways to lose weight which we explore below.
B. Total Energy Expenditure
The second part of this metabolic equation involves the actual usage of energy throughout the day.
It is known as your total energy expenditure (TEE) and in my opinion the easiest part of the metabolic equation that can be tweaked and manipulated to cause the desired energy deficit that results in weight loss.
TEE can be further divided into roughly three categories namely basal metabolic requirements, diet induced thermogenesis and physical activity.
1. Basal Metabolic Requirments (BMR)
These are the three main ways in which we use energy throughout the day. Of these three, our basal metabolic requirements use the most energy at about 60-75% of our total energy expenditure.
This accounts for such a large portion of energy because it includes all the processes that are running while we are in a rested state.
This would include the processes of breathing, the pumping of blood and the operation of all our organs just to name a few.
It is usually calculated using a measure known as basal metabolic rate (BMR). The graphic below will give you an idea of how much of energy each organ uses.
BMR varies quite significantly between individuals as there are many factors such as sex, age, genetics and free fat mass that contribute to your BMR. These factors are difficult to control except for free fat mass.
Free fat mass includes the mass of all the tissue in our body other than fat, which includes our organs, bones and muscle. It is not possible to change the size of our organs but we can increase our muscle mass.
You would be shocked by how much a little extra muscle mass can increase our metabolism. A mere 5lb of muscle mass burns about 400kj over a day. That is equivalent to running a mile at average speed.
So you literally get the benefits of running one mile at average speed every day by just having an extra 5lb of muscle mass. This is apart from the various other weight loss benefits that muscle cells possess.
2. Diet Induced Thermogenesis (DIT)
The second part of our total energy expenditure is diet induced thermogenesis (DIT). It is the amount of energy that we use to digest, process and dispose of a meal.
This accounts for a surprisingly high amount of energy used at 10-20% of our TEE.
Most importantly this is an area in which we have a lot of control and it is easy to manipulate to cause an increase in energy usage.
In its simplest form, meals high in protein require a lot of energy to digest and process in comparison to meals high in fat and carbohydrates.
Eating certain foods that are high in protein and fibre, can actually burn more energy than some exercises. Understanding just this concept can change our relationship with food from a foe to a partner in weight loss.
3. Physical Activity Thermogenesis
Lastly we have physical activity thermogenesis. Surprisingly it only accounts for 10-15% of our total energy expenditure .
Furthermore, this can be divided into exercise and non-exercise induced thermogenesis. The exercise division includes all the intentional exercise like working out, and the non-exercise every other activity that we physically do in a day such as walking and talking.
This non-exercise part makes up most of the 10-15% of physical activity thermogenesis.
From this, we can see that exercise which is effective for weight loss in terms of burning up energy only makes up about 5-10% of our total energy expenditure.
The exciting part is the non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). It is all the activities that we do in a day without even noticing it, and it burns up an enormous amount of energy.
Many of the people that we assume have a high metabolism actually have high levels of NEAT. Take note of them during a day and you will see that they are always standing up and moving around. These little actions add up over a day to burn a lot of energy.
Increasing your levels of NEAT are a lot easier and burn more energy than most exercise regimens.
How Hormones Imbalances Slow your Metabolism and make you Gain Weight
There next area that we can target to increase our metabolism is the control system that runs the entire process. The endocrine system is a system of glands, organs and tissues that regulate our metabolism.
It controls our metabolism by varying the amounts of metabolic hormones released. In a perfect world our endocrine systems control and balance our metabolisms through feedback mechanisms.
Poor nutrition and bad habits upset this balanced control system that sends us into vicious cycles with imbalanced hormone production that leads to a slow and damaged metabolism and weight gain.
However, our bodies have amazing self-healing abilities and with a few easy steps we can reset our hormones and even manipulate it to help us lose weight.
The metabolic hormones that get thrown off balance are usually your thyroid, insulin, estrogen, testosterone, growth hormone and cortisol hormones.
Other hormones that play a significant role in making you fat are ghrelin, leptin and adiponectin.
As you can see our metabolisms are made up of and controlled by so many factors. This then gives us so many ways to increase it.
The 8 strategies listed below work by addressing a different part of our metabolism to speed it up and help us lose weight effortlessly.
They are not hard rules but simple daily practices that will reset your metabolism and get it working again. Try to incorporate as many as possible into your daily routines.
Ageing, is by far the most common reason for weight gain after 30. As we age our bodies naturally experience a decrease in hormone production.
The hormones that decrease with age are critical to our metabolism. Anyone over thirty knows that they can’t get away with eating a pizza like they used in their twenties.
You also realise that the exercise regimens you used when you were younger don’t work as well as they used to.
These new found problems with weight gain after 30 are mostly due to the decrease in your metabolism from the decreasing hormone production that comes with age.
How Poor Nutrition Slows our Metabolism and makes us Fat
The next major reason your metabolism can slow down is poor nutrition. Years of eating poorly upsets the fine balance that our metabolism needs to stay running at an optimal rate.
Diets high in sugar causes metabolic hormone problems such as insulin and leptin insensitivity which creates vicious weight gaining cycles.
Other hormones that promotes satiety are also sent into a tailspin from poor nutrition. They lose their appetite suppressant abilities and you end up eating way more than you should.
Bad habits, include simple daily activities that you are doing and not noticing that they cause weight.
A few of them include, not eating the entire day then binging on a big meal later on, eating late at night just before bed, drinking minimal quantities of liquids, drinking calories like fruit juices instead of eating the actual fruit, not sleeping enough and even sitting for long periods of time.
Yo-yo dieting, is another guaranteed way to make you fat. It messes up your metabolism and slows it down like you wouldn’t believe. Starting and stopping diets that are restrictive in nature literally stomps all over the balance that your metabolism loves.
Most of the time we start diets on a Monday and we end up stopping by Wednesday or Thursday, go crazy on the weekend and start again on the following Monday.
This practice, which is so common with adults in their 30’s and 40’s, is one of the major metabolism destroyers around. It leaves your metabolism confused and damaged and you end up gaining weight no matter how well you diet on the first days of the week.
Over supplementation has to be mentioned as well, the boom in dietary supplements is another major cause of a decreased metabolism.
Too many diet supplements for long periods of time slows down your body’s natural processes. This can also occur with vitamins. Taking too many vitamins can stop your body’s natural production entirely in some cases.
Dietary supplements and vitamins should be taken only if you have a deficiency and in combination with an overall weight loss plan.
No one pill will help you lose weight and keep it off in the long run.
Follow these 8 Steps below to Reverse your Slow Metabolism and Lose Weight
1. Eat More, Never Starve to Boost Metabolism for Weight Loss
The first step in resetting and speeding up your metabolism is too make sure you eat enough of the right foods. The right foods are foods that are high in protein and fibre content. This includes all meat products and most vegetables.
Eating more speeds up your metabolism by increasing the production of the main metabolic hormones. There are many psychological benefits to eating more especially the ability of preventing you from eating the wrong foods and binge eating later on in the day.
More important than eating more are the consequences of eating less. Diets that restrict food cause your body to go into starvation mode. Your metabolism shuts down and starts saving as much energy as possible. All systems in your body go into panic mode and your body does everything it can to make you eat.
This usually ends with you grabbing the closest, most fattening meal in sight. Your body is in such panic that you might not get any more food that it stores every part of that meal.
This is the vicious weight causing cycle that is created by restricting yourself from food.
Eating more also involves adding in carbohydrates into your meals for breakfast and lunch.
Carbohydrates have the dual function of providing energy for the rest of the day and also preventing your metabolism from slowing down.
“No carbohydrate” diets can actually send your body into a state of hypothyroidism where the main metabolic hormone production of thyroxine is almost stopped. This is a disastrous condition that will make you gain weight instantly.
A cheat day once a week is necessary to prevent this exact same down regulation of metabolic hormones. One day a week must be set asides to eat whatever you want.
This prevents your metabolism from slowing down and it is great psychologically as we can save our desired meals for the cheat day. Diets with cheat days included have a higher probability of success.
2. Eat at the Same Time Every Day to Boost Metabolism for Weight Loss
Our metabolisms thrive on balance and structure, the best way to maintain that balance is to eat at the same times every day.
Try to keep your eating times fairly in sync on a daily basis. Your metabolism will know what to expect and will keep running at optimal balanced rates.
This balance is due to the controlled release of hormones that comes with regular eating.
When we eat at different times our metabolic hormones are released erratically usually with big spikes and crashes and this puts us into crazy states of hunger and satiety that usually end up with us eating poorly over the entire day.
Hormones like insulin that usually get released after a meal can cause serious weight gain when it is released in large amounts after a big untimed meal.
3. Never Eat Before Sleeping to Boost Metabolism for Weight Loss
If I had to follow just one rule it would be not eating for at least two hours before jumping into bed.
Our metabolisms are the slowest while we are at sleep and having an abundance of energy supplied at night is a recipe for weight gain.
Your body has no way of using it and it just ends up storing it as fat. While we are asleep our body and metabolism also has a chance to concentrate on repair and maintenance.
Letting your metabolism rest for the night is a great way to reset it, so that it can work optimally the next day.
4. Eat as much Protein as Possible to Boost Metabolism for Weight Loss
Including as much protein in your diet as possible will definitely increase your metabolism. This is shown above.
Protein requires more energy to digest and increases your metabolism by increasing diet induced thermogenesis.
Protein also has many other weight loss promoting qualities in that it increases the feeling of fullness after a meal and it promotes muscle growth which is a huge metabolism booster and leads into the next point.
5. Exercise Less, with Resistance to Boost Metabolism for Weight Loss
Exercising can be very tricky. Cardio vascular workouts will definitely cause you to lose weight. The major problem is that most cardio vascular workouts are unsustainable over the long run.
What happens is that we start working out and losing weight, however life is unpredictable especially in your 30’s and 40’s when you usually have a demanding family and career.
Something will always come up to mess with your best laid plans. Your body burns up most of its excess energy from the physical activity and there is very little work for your metabolism. This slows down your metabolism.
The problem comes in when you stop cardio exercises after some time, and almost every study shows that you will, your metabolism is not able to deal with the excess energy like it did when you were exercising and you end up putting on weight.
You see it all the time with pro-athletes after they retire, most of them blow up in weight.
In contrast, resistance exercises such as weight training build muscle. More muscle means more free fat mass and this increases your metabolism with lasting effects. It takes a lot longer to lose muscle mass compared to losing cardio fitness.
Resistance training doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to train with weights, significant results can be achieved with simple body weight exercises like squats and push ups.
Resistance training also takes considerably less time and effort than cardio workouts.
The biggest issue with resistance training is the fear of looking like a muscular body builder. This is a major misconception, it takes years of training and specific nutrition to look like a body builder.
Body weight resistance training will provide you with results that give just the right amount of extra muscle to boost your metabolism and not make your look muscular.
The most important thing about resistance training is that it can be done anywhere which makes it extremely sustainable.
6. Stand More, Sit Less to Boost Metabolism for Weight Loss
The smart cheat to boost your metabolism. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) are all the physical activities in a day other than intentional exercise, this includes walking, talking, fidgeting, and all the other little activities in a normal day.
Neat uses more energy than exercise routines and when we increase our neat we can burn more energy than most workouts.
The easiest way to do this is to monitor the time that you are sitting in a day. You should never sit for longer than 20-30 minutes. Identify periods of long sitting times in your day and break them up with scheduled activities.
Going to the bathroom or going to get a glass of water. Other activities like placing your phone away from your desk will force you to stand more often when it rings.
These little activities will burn an unbelievable amount of energy over a day. Parking your car the furthest away from your office will force you to walk more.
There are so many ways to increase your daily neat. Check out the blog and the guide for more. As a rule, try to sit as little as possible through out a day, try to do as much as possible standing up.
7. Sleep More to Boost Metabolism for Weight Loss
Sleeping more increases your metabolism, however the bigger problem is sleeping less severely decreases your metabolism.
This can be easily seen in the many shift workers that are overweight. It is also a major reason for the weight gain experienced with a new born.
Sleep deprivation upsets most of our metabolic hormones causing a severe decrease in our metabolisms resulting in weight gain.
It also affects our psychology prompting us to seek out sugary high carbohydrates meals making it very difficult to follow any diet.
These effects can be seen even after a single night of interrupted sleep. In order to prevent this and boost your metabolism, make sure you get a god night of 7-8 hours of sleep.
So many of us get into bad habits of delaying sleep to finish work, studies or even just to watch tv. So many of us are guilty of falling asleep while watching tv. This alone can mess up your night and cause weight gain.
To get a good night of metabolism boosting sleep make sure your room is cool and dark.
Both these factors help promote melatonin which is the hormone that regulates your sleep and has the boosting effect on your metabolism.
8. Drink More Water to Boost Metabolism for Weight Loss
I am not going to explain the many ways that water boosts your metabolism. I am just going to show you a comparison of the energy consumed by drinking eight glasses of cool water vs running for 2miles.
Drinking 8 glasses or 2kg of cold water can increase your daily metabolism by up to 600kj. This is equivalent to running more than a mile at average speed.