How to Increase Metabolism

Your metabolic rate is essentially a measure of the amount of calories you burn every day. The number of calories you burn varies and is influenced by several factors (read more about how to increase the calories you burn every day). Knowing what these factors are will allow you to:

  • Manipulate the amount of calories you burn
  • Avoid inadvertently burning fewer calories, i.e. help you avoid slowing down your metabolism
  • Will help you increase your metabolism

Although there are a lot of things you can do to increase metabolism, there are also quite a few things you should avoid doing, which would otherwise slow down your metabolic rate.

Food, exercise and other lifestyle choices have a significant impact on your metabolism. The more of these factors you are able to incorporate into your lifestyle, the more you’ll increase your metabolism and experience greater fat loss and importantly permanent fat loss.

Avoid Very Low Calorie Diets

On very low calorie diets, you are essentially starving yourself. While logically no one is able to maintain such a diet as part of a lifestyle change and those who do risk serious damage to their health, very low calorie diets generally do not work.

This is because they triggers the starvation protection mechanism, which causes you to lose a lot of water weight, some muscle tissue and very little fat. How does it do it? Not knowing that McDonald’s is only around the next corner, your body panics and takes some extreme protective measures to ensure your survival, which appears to be in jeopardy since your body has registered that there is insufficient food around.

Your body proceeds to protect its fat reserves in case things get worse later and uses muscle for fuel instead of fat. It also instigates a number of complicated measures to decrease the amount of energy your body needs for its essential functions.

In other words it slows down your metabolism. Kinda counterproductive! Solution? Moderate calorie reduction.

Eat Little + Often

Eating around 6 small meals per day with each meal consisting of a combination of protein, carbs and fat. On a calorie controlled diet you eat fewer calories than normal. Therefore, you need to provide your body with food every fewer hours helps avoid triggering the starvation protection mechanism.

Research suggests that small, regular meals throughout the day, instead of one or two large meals, can increase your metabolism.

In fact, evidence shows that people who eat every 2 to 3 hours have less body fat and faster metabolisms than those who eat only 2 or 3 meals per day. Also, about 10% of the calories we burn each day goes on digesting and absorbing food – so the more times you eat, the greater this effect is likely to be.

Small, but frequent meals should form part of your daily metabolism-boosting plan.

Eat Breakfast

Breakfast → break fast → breaking the fast. Yes, you have been fasting through the night. Therefore, especially when you are dieting you should eat something for breakfast to avoid triggering a slowdown in metabolism.

You need not go as far as breakfasting like a king, but should definitely try eating a small breakfast at the very least. A low calorie meal replacement shake, fruit or cereal are options, though incorporate some protein into your meal.

Eat Protein + Lots of Fiber

Our body has to use energy to digest, break down and absorb the food we eat. Some foods require more energy to break down than others. Research suggests that approximately 25% of calories in a protein-rich meal are burnt off. 

Your body has to burn more energy to digest protein than it does to digest fat or carbohydrate. Furthermore, protein will help build muscle and reduce loss of muscle mass that occurs on weight loss diets.

Remember, muscle burns calories and increases metabolism. Therefore, a protein-rich diet acts to increase your metabolism by (1) requiring more energy for digestion than other foods and (2) by building metabolism boosting muscle tissue.

Fiber is not digestible, still your body works very hard trying to break it down. This uses up energy and increases metabolism in the process.

Make sure you choose low-fat protein options such as lean meat, skinless chicken and low-fat dairy productsFiber-rich foods are also excellent metabolism boosters.


There is no way to get around exercise. While calorie-restricted diet decreases metabolism, exercise increases metabolism. Exercise is the only way to truly get the most of calorie restriction.

Where dieting results in loss of muscle, exercise increases muscle or at the very least during dieting stops the loss of muscle mass. Exercise has short and long-term effects on metabolism.

Exercise increases metabolism for a hours after exercise and increases metabolism by increasing muscle mass

High intensity interval training is the best exercise technique to increase metabolism, as it has the greatest effect on metabolism and is incredibly efficient. HIIT can burn an extra 100 to 200 after your workout.

Build Muscle

Muscle gain of just 5 to 10 pounds will increase your metabolism by approximately 100 calories. Try cardio with resistance/ incline, as well as weight training.

Great muscle-building activities that also burn a lot of calories include:

But Back on Alcohol

Just as protein takes a lot of energy to digest alcohol takes the least. Almost all the calories in alcohol will go straight to your love handles.

Furthermore, alcohol is the incredibly calorie rich intake can quickly add up to hundreds of calories. The calories in cocktails tend to be particularly high. Moreover, alcohol prevents fat burning.

Spice It Up!

It does work! Spices such as chilli are thought to increase metabolism for up to three hours after eating, by increasing your heart rate. Research shows that people served hot sauce with appetizers consumed about 200 fewer calories and in later meals. Just make sure that your spicy food choices are not calorie-rich.

A spicy dish, such as a bowl of chili, not only temporarily increases metabolism, but may also increase feelings of fullness. Avoid spicy foods if you suffer with reflux or heartburn.

Supplement with Fish Oil

Although much focus has been on green tea, as it is believed to contain antioxidants that increase metabolism or at the very least stave off decreases in metabolism, fish oil has shown much greater promise.

Research suggests that the omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), which are only present in fish oil, may may be able to dramatically increase metabolism. Fish oil may be able to increase calorie burning by approximately 400 calories per day!

For an effective supplement choose capsules that contain at least 300 milligrams of EPA and DHA total.


Yes, sleeping. Research suggests that insufficient sleep can cause weight gain. Lack of sleep appears to alter the levels of hormones Leptin and Ghrelin that play a role in weight control by affecting appetite and energy regulation.

The changes in these hormones increase hunger and appetite. Furthermore, significant changes in glucose tolerance and endocrine function also occur and hasten the onset and increase the severity of diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night.


Saunas may increase metabolism by about 20%. In the heat of the sauna the body works hard to cool itself, such that there is a substantial increase in heart rate, cardiac output and metabolic rate – similar effects to exercise, without the physical exertion. Metabolism may stay elevated for hours after the sauna.

Before you have a sauna, ensure you don’t have any underlying medical problems that mean you shouldn’t go in saunas or steam rooms.


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