What Can You Do To Boost Your Metabolism?
The physiology of weight loss and muscle building is complex; but there are proven strategies that have stood the test of time. In this article I share with you 10 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.
1. Eat Enough Protein
Hands down… across any weight loss study conducted you’ll find that a key performing indicator for weight loss is increased protein consumption.
Protein is essential when losing weight/fat.
Protein does a number of things including:
- Helping you to keep lean body mass (connective tissue, organs and bones)
- Significantly increases satiety or feelings of fullness (regardless of eating less)
- Increased calorie burning due to the thermic effect of eating it.
For example, if you’re eating 2,500 calories daily, 15 percent from protein, 50 percent from carbs, and 35 percent from fats (roughly average for US adults), you’re burning approximately 185 calories per day through digestion.
Maintain your total calorie intak but increase protein to 30%, drop carbs to 40% and fat to 30% and now your TEE goe to approx 265 calories per day!
- For most active men – 6-8 palm sized servings of protein per day will do
- For most active women – 4-6 palm sized servings of protein per day.
2. Eat a Variety of Fruits, Vegetables, Quality Carbs and Fats
At this point I feel it’s safe to say that we all need more vegetables in our life. Veggies are loaded with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, water, and fiber that help to fill you up during meals, stay full between meals, keep you healthy over all and recover from your workouts.
- We recommend 6-8 fist-sized servings per day for most active men.
- And 4-6 fist-sized servings per day for most active women.
The carbs will fuel training, boost leptin (a super important hormone that regulates hunger), keep up sex hormones, and prevent feelings of deprivation.
And the fats also keep up sex hormones, boost the immune system, suppress excess inflammation, and make food taste really good.
- For most active men, this would be 6-8 handfuls of quality carbs, and 6-8 thumbs of fats per day.
- For most active women, 4-6 handfuls of quality carbs and 4-6 thumbs of healthy fats per day.
3. Adjust your intake as you Plateau
As your weight loss progresses, you will need to lower your calorie intake or increase your calorie expenditure to continue to progress. Basically, as your body gets smaller, you’ll start burning fewer calories, and your body will adapt to your diet.
However, one study found that weight loss plateaus have less to do with metabolic adaptations and more to do with “an intermittent lack of diet adherence”. In other words, not actually sticking to a nutrition plan consistently.
Research shows that we usually think we’re eating less and exercising more than we truly are. So do an objective review of your actual energy in and out before assuming your body is blocking your efforts.
4. Appreciate the Complexity
So many things influence what, why, and when we choose to eat.
Too often, eating and body size / fatness are blamed on lack of knowledge, lack of willpower / discipline, or laziness. In reality, food intake and body composition are governed by a mix of physiological, biological, psychological, social, economical, and lifestyle influences, along with individual knowledge or beliefs.
One of the simplest ways to make your decision processes easier is to create an environment that encourages good food choices and discourages poor ones. This can mean making changes to your daily routine, who you spend time with, where you spend time, and what food is readily available to you.
But remember that weight loss can and should be relatively slow, so aim to lose about 0.5-1 percent of your body weight per week.
This helps to maintain muscle mass and minimize the adaptive metabolic responses to a lower calorie intake and resulting weight loss. Faster weight loss tends to result in more muscle loss without extra fat loss, as well as a larger adaptive response.
5. Cycle Calories & Carbs
For folks who are trying to get quite lean, at some point you can’t just rely on linear dieting to get you there. By strategically cycling calories and carbs, you can help to limit how much the metabolism-regulating hormone leptin drops (or temporarily boost it back up) – attenuating the adaptive and hunger response.
*Note: This is a higher-level strategy for fitness competitors and elite athletes who need to get very lean (i.e. ~6-9 percent body fat for men, and ~16-19 percent for women). It’s not something for the average person.
6. You Need to Refeed Regularly
If you’re lean and you want to get more lean… then you need to understand the principles of refeeding. Even Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (who is pretty dang lean) refeeds!
When getting to extreme levels of leanness, even strategic calorie and carb cycling might not be enough. So take out the big guns, and employ some periodic re-feeds to temporarily boost leptin and insulin and keep fat loss going.
**Note: This is a higher-level strategy for fitness competitors and elite athletes who need to get very lean (i.e. <6 percent body fat for men, and <16 percent for women).
7. Mix Resistance, Cardio & Recovery Workouts
Resistance training helps you maintain vital muscle mass, burn calories, and improve glucose tolerance. Cardiovascular exercise improves the health of your cardiovascular system, helps you expend energy, and can improve recovery.
But don’t overdo either one.
Recovery work (e.g. foam rolling, walking, yoga) helps you maintain consistency and intensity with resistance and cardio training, making them more effective. And it helps to decrease stress (lowering cortisol), which also helps you lose body fat and keep it off.
Aim for 3-5 hours per week of purposeful activity.
8. Find Ways to Increase NEAT
Find ways to keep moving throughout the day. Get a stand up workstation, fidget more, pace when you’re on the phone, take the stairs, park farther away, etc.
These small increases in movement can have a huge impact in your overall “Energy Out”.
9. Develop a Solid Sleep Routine & Manage Stress
Sleep is just as important to your success as nutrition and activity levels. Don’t pretend that you can get by with less. It simply isn’t true.
Often, when people lower their stress, they lose a lot of body water. Then they also notice that they may have lost fat too. (Plus, they may discover that chronic inflammation goes down — another win.)
This includes mental and emotional stress. Research on cognitive dietary restraint (i.e. worrying and stressing out about food) shows that constantly and negatively fixating on what you eat (or don’t) can have the same unhealthy effect as actually dieting stringently.
Yet we need some stress to actually help with progress and growth, so find your stress sweet spot.
10. Have Self-Compassion
Give yourself a break.
There are going to be meals or days where you don’t eat as you “should”. It’s OK. It happens to everyone. Recognize it, accept it, forgive yourself, and then get back on track.
Research actually shows that self-compassion and flexible eating is associated with lower BMI and a healthier body weight, lower self-reported calorie intake, less anxiety and stress, and a better relationship with food.
And make sure that the body you really want aligns with the life you really enjoy. Understand what is required to reach different levels of body composition. Consider the impact that will have on your life, and choose accordingly.