Boosting your metabolism naturally: Foods & Habits

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Ryan Day Coaching

In the quest for a healthier lifestyle, many of us are intrigued by the idea of revving up our metabolism. A faster metabolism not only aids in weight management but also enhances overall energy levels.

The good news is, you can boost your metabolism naturally through a combination of smart food choices and healthy habits. So, let’s dive into some practical tips to get that metabolic fire roaring.

The Metabolic Basics

Before we jump into the strategies, let’s touch on what metabolism is.

In simple terms, metabolism refers to the body’s process of converting food and drink into energy. This energy is crucial for everyday functions, from breathing and circulating blood to more active pursuits like exercising.

Metabolism is influenced by various factors, including age, sex, genetics, and body composition. While we can’t alter some of these factors, we can definitely make diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices that positively impact our metabolic rate.

It’s also worth mentioning that the metabolism is incredibly complex and varies WIDELY from person to person, so our scientific understanding of metabolism is very limited at this point.

The Power of Protein

Protein is often hailed as the superhero of metabolism-boosting foods and for good reason.

When you consume protein, your body expends more energy just to digest and process it compared to fats and carbohydrates. This is known as the thermic effect of food.

In simple terms, your body burns more calories just to break down protein.

Include protein-dense foods in your meals like poultry, grass-fed beef, fish, eggs, greek yogurt, whey protein, and legumes. Not only does protein support muscle growth and repair, but it also keeps you feeling fuller for longer, cutting down on the likelihood of overeating.

Prioritize Strength Training

While food choices play a crucial role, your activity level is equally important in maintaining a healthy metabolism. Among various exercises, strength training should be the cornerstone of every exercise regimen.

Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat, so building and maintaining muscle mass is one of the most effective ways to keep your metabolism humming.

Try to incorporate full-body strength training sessions at least twice a week to help preserve and build lean muscle. Shoot for 2-4 sets per muscle group during each session, for a total of 8-9 sets per muscle group each week.

Prioritize Quality Sleep

Believe it or not, the quality of your sleep can significantly impact your metabolism. Poor sleep is linked to disruptions in hormones that regulate hunger and appetite, which often lead to weight gain.

Establish a consistent sleep routine, aiming for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Equally as important as the amount of sleep you get: go to bed and wake up around the same time each day.

Create a sleep-conducive environment by keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Your body will thank you with a more efficient metabolism.

Manage Stress Levels

Chronic stress can take a toll on your metabolism.

When you’re stressed, your body produces cortisol, a hormone that, in excess, may lead to weight gain, especially around the midsection.

Incorporate stress-reducing practices into your daily routine, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga. Taking time for self-care not only benefits your metabolism but also contributes to overall well-being.

Note: This is not an excuse to be lazy. 🙂 Stress management techniques are to be used together with proper exercise programming and nutrition habits.

Stay Hydrated

Did you know that drinking water might give your metabolism a temporary boost?

Research suggests that drinking ~16oz (1 bottle) of water can increase metabolic rate by around 30% for about 30–40 minutes. Not that crazy of a boost, but it’s always great to be hydrated and still pretty neat IMO!

Make it a habit to stay well-hydrated throughout the day, and opt for a glass of water after your meals or as a midday pick-me-up. Not only does it give you a slight metabolic boost, but it also supports overall health.

Bonus points if you already drink enough water each day. (Half your bodyweight in ounces)

Feel Free to Caffeinate

Green tea and coffee have long been celebrated for their antioxidant properties, but they might also contribute to a speedier metabolism. Green tea’s metabolism-boosting effects come from the catechins found in green tea as well as the small amount of caffeine.

Coffee, on the other hand, has also been associated with an increase in calorie burning from what appears to be the caffeine content.

The research on this isn’t conclusive that caffeine is the actual driver behind the metabolic boost; HOWEVER, caffeine naturally causes you to move more throughout the day which does speed up your metabolism.

So, feel free to enjoy some green tea or coffee, but skip all the added creams and sugars if you can. Those are probably doing more harm than good.

Eat More

What? Eat more? Won’t that just make me put on weight? I know it sounds crazy, but probably not.

By gradually increasing your calorie intake in a slow and methodical manner, in conjunction with resistance training, you can slowly increase your metabolism and successfully increase your calorie intake without any material change on the scale.

Wild, I know.  And again, we don’t understand much about the metabolism, so the mechanism behind this is a little unclear.  But it works.  

This doesn’t mean you need to go eat 1,000 more calories every day immediately.  That will cause you to put on weight. But increasing your maintenance calories by 5-10% week-over-week is a pretty good rule of thumb to boost your metabolism in line with your caloric intake without adding any additional bodyweight.

If you’re nervous about this, talk to me and I can lead you in the right direction.

The Bottom Line

Boosting your metabolism naturally is a holistic endeavor that involves both dietary choices and lifestyle habits.

It takes some initial experimenting and planning to work these strategies into your lifestyle, but they are so worth it once you figure out how to make them stick.  

Just remember: Consistency is king. Small, sustainable changes over time can have a monumental impact on your metabolic health over time. You’re not going to be perfect with introducing new habits, and if you were, you’d be miserable.  We don’t want you miserable.

I’ve struggled and tried to brute-force my way to making enough habits stick, and I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work. If you get stuck or are having trouble getting a new habit to stick, reach out and I’ll help you get it figured out.

Embrace the journey of better health, and celebrate the positive changes and wins along the way. After all, you’ve earned every single one of them.