Wondering how to boost your metabolism to get the biggest calorie burn throughout your day? This post will give you different dietary strategies + fitness and healthy living tips you can incorporate into your lifestyle to optimize your metabolic rate.

Thanks so much to my intern, Danielle Barker, for collaborating on this post!

One of the questions many of my readers and clients have, is “What can I do to boost my metabolism?”

Many of us know that having an optimal metabolic rate is desirable for maintaining a healthy weight, which in turn may help reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and more.

But, do you know what “metabolism” is, and what diet and lifestyle factors you have control over to boost your metabolism?

Simply put, your metabolism is essentially the process in which your body converts the calories you consume from food and drinks into energy. The faster your metabolism, the more calories you will burn throughout the day.

What Factors Affect Metabolism?

Your metabolic rate depends greatly on a variety of factors such as genetics, physical activity, age, gender, lean body mass, hormone levels, and more.

Some of these factors are out of your control, but there are still several things that you can do to optimize your metabolism.

Just Say NO To Low Calorie Diets

Many people, when trying to lose weight, go into a caloric deficit of over 500 calories a day resulting in a loss of at least 1 pound a week. But dieting to such a great extent, can really mess with your metabolism.

This is called “metabolic adaptation” or “adaptive thermogenesis”. Our bodies are designed to do anything possible to survive, but when we create too large of a caloric deficit, your body goes into starvation mode, and begins burning fewer calories than it used to, making it actually harder to lose weight in the long term.

Besides eating enough calories, what else helps boost your metabolism?

You can make several changes in your diet and activity throughout the day to increase your caloric burn. Some of them will have a bigger impact on boosting your metabolism, so learn more about each one, then find out which 3 will give your metabolism the biggest boost for your buck!

Dietary Changes to Help Boost Your Metabolism

Eat protein at every meal.

Bowl of pasta with tomatoes, parsley and chickpeas
This Easy Healthy Pasta w/ Crispy Rosemary Chickpeas, Tomatoes, & Parmesan provides 12 g of protein per serving. Pair it with a serving of Greek yogurt topped w/ blueberries and you’re good to go!

Thanks to what is known as the thermodynamic effect of food (TEF), there is a small amount of calories burned after you eat, due to your body needing to use energy to break food down, so it can be absorbed.

Protein is harder for the body to break down and requires more energy, so including more protein in every meal will result in a larger TEF.

Put it in to practice: Not sure how much protein you’re eating at every meal? Try a tracker such as My Fitness Pal or Chronometer for a couple of weeks to track your protein intake. I tell my clients to aim for 20-30 grams at each meal, especially breakfast and lunch. {This is a great guide I put together about protein sources for omnivore, vegetarian, & vegan diets.}

This Easy Healthy Pasta w/ Crispy Rosemary Chickpeas, Tomatoes, & Parmesan {pictured above} provides 12 g of protein per serving. Pair it with a serving of Greek yogurt topped w/ blueberries and you’re good to go!

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. 

sparkling water being poured into a glass with lime and raspberries

Staying hydrated is so important for overall well being, as well as for keeping your metabolism running strong throughout the day. Stick to water as your #1 drink of choice, and minimize sugary drinks and alcohol with empty calories that provide no nutrients to your body.

One very small study suggested drinking 500ml of water increased metabolic rate by about 30 percent, but further research needs to be done. More importantly, drinking water also helps prevent you from overeating, as thirst is often confused with hunger on top of this, water helps your body metabolize food as well.

Put it in to practice: To speed up your caloric burn throughout the day even more, you can drink your water iced, because it takes more energy for your body to heat up the water after you have consumed it. This has only a very small impact however, so if you like your water at room temp, that’s fine too~it’s more important to make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day.

Learn more–> Simple Tips for Healthy Hydration + a DIY Sparkling Water Bar

Drink green tea and coffee.

water pouring into a bowl of matcha tea and a hand holding a whisk

While staying well hydrated with water is important, you can also get some metabolism boosting benefits from green tea and coffee. Both contain caffeine, which has been shown to temporarily speed up your metabolism.

In addition, these beverages help in fat burning because they open up the fat stores in the body and free the fatty acids which can then be burned for energy.

Put it in to practice: To get the most out of this caffeine boost, consume these beverages before a good workout. Keep in mind, though, that consuming caffeine-filled drinks isn’t enough to counter over-consuming calories. Like drinking cold water, the boost is minimal. Also, if you are sensitive to caffeine, I don’t recommend consuming it solely to boost your metabolism.

Learn more–> Health benefits of Coffee and The Health Benefits of Matcha

Consume more spicy foods.

vegetable juice in jars, jalapeno, and bell pepper
This Spicy Summer Veggie Juice is a delicious low cal way to hydrate and give your metabolism a teensy boost!

Studies have shown that  spicy foods have the ability to initiate a metabolic spike. Peppers and other foods that are spicy contain a compound known as capsaicin which boosts your body’s metabolism by producing heat, or energy.

Put it in to practice: Like caffeinated drinks, spicy peppers will not provide a large enough burn to allow you to maintain or lose weight if more calories are consumed than the body needs. Still, if you enjoy spicy foods, like I do, there are lots of delicious ways to incorporate chili peppers and other spicy foods in to your diet, plus you may get a mini metabolism boost!

Fitness & Lifestyle Changes to Help Boost Your Metabolism

Move more and sit less.

how to boost your metabolism photo of a woman walking outside on dirt path with trees

Sitting for long periods has been linked to a variety of health problems including: cardiovascular disease, increased blood pressure, cancer and more. 

Studies have shown that sitting for about 15 minutes burned an average of about 20 calories, while those who walked for about 15 minutes burned an average of about 3 times that amount. Take a break from sitting and try to walk around when you’re on your phone, or move around as you watch TV.

Take note: Standing up at work may be better than sitting but only by a sliver; take breaks often, and move regularly throughout the day for the best effect. If you can opt outside for a daily dose of nature, even better!

Try high intensity interval training (HIIT).

how to boost your metabolism picture of people on spin bikes

HIIT workouts are when you give it your all for a certain period of time and then rest for a certain period of time. Interval training burns more calories in a shorter period of time than steady state cardio, and has also been shown to have a greater caloric after burn once you’ve finished your workout.

Get motivated to work out –> 5 Fun & Easy Ways to Get More Exercise {When You Don’t Feel Like Working Out

Start lifting weights.

2 dumbells

The more often you do weight training and the heavier you lift, the more muscle you’ll build, and when you have more muscle on your body, you’ll burn more calories, even at rest. 

In addition, weight lifting also helps keep your metabolism from dropping when you are trying to lose weight or are eating at a caloric deficit.

Important/Disclaimer: If you are taking up any fitness routine for the first time, be sure to consult your physician or other qualified health care professional before starting. If you experience faintness, dizziness, pain or shortness of breath at any time while exercising you should stop immediately.

Make sleep a priority.

how to boost your metabolism - Bed with white sheets, wood side table, flowers, and candle

Many of us know that sleep is important but a lot of us are unaware about just how important it is. Lack of sleep is closely linked to obesity, insulin resistance, and high blood sugar. Sleep deprivation also throws off hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin causing us to overeat due to feeling more hungry.

In addition, not getting enough sleep throws off the hormone cortisol, the stress hormone, or as we like to call it, the fat storing hormone. Cortisol level rise when the body feels under stress. This stress can come from lack of sleep, stress from school or work, over training, under eating and more. If you feel you are continually stressed out, try practicing journaling, self hypnosis, or meditation {I love the Calm app!} everyday before bed to see if you become more relaxed and your sleep improves.

Ultimately, not getting enough shut eye has poor effects on the metabolism and your overall health so aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night! Learn more/Put in into practice–>The Ultimate Guide to Natural Sleep Tips for Better Health

How to Boost Your Metabolism-Focus on These 3 Things FIRST

Hopefully you’ve found lots of good tips on how to boost your metabolism, but, if you want to focus on just a few things, these are the 3 things that will have the biggest impact on boosting your metabolism, keeping in mind, these tips can only help in the context of having an overall healthy diet and lifestyle.

1. Consume a minimally processed, whole foods based diet, with protein, healthy fats, and complex/high fiber carbohydrates at every meal. Make sure you’re getting enough protein spread throughout the day~aim for 20-30 grams per meal, especially at breakfast & lunch.

2. Ditch the low calorie diets to avoid metabolic adaptation. Remember, when you under eat, your body puts itself into starvation mode in order to survive, causing your metabolism to drop considerably to save energy. Fueling your body with too few calories leads it to store those calories because it is unsure as to when it will be fed again and wants that extra fat as an energy reserve.

3. Keep your metabolism humming away by moving regularly throughout the day. Also, include HIIT workouts & strength training into your weekly workout routine at least 2-3 times a week. Add in daily walks {a daily dose of fresh air & nature will help relive stress too}, and your metabolism will thank you!

If you need help putting together a healthy eating plan individualized to your needs, be sure and get in touch w/ me~I’d love to help!

How to Boost Your Metabolism | References

  1. Metabolism & Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories
  2. Most of us misunderstand metabolism. Here are 9 facts to clear that up.
  3. A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveat
  4. Metabolic Effect of HIIT
  5. How Much Does Strength Training Really Increase Metabolism?
  6. Sleep and Metabolism: An Overview
  7. Impact of stress on metabolism and energy balance
  8. How Many Calories We Burn When We Sit, Stand or Walk

Let’s chat!

Have you tried any of these metabolism boosting tips? Did you learn anything new from this post? Do you have any questions about how to boost your metabolism? Leave a comment, or get in touch.

And, if you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it, to help spread the word that healthy IS delicious. Thank you so much for your support. Cheers!