Metabolism: What Is Metabolism and How Can You Boost It?

Your metabolism is important - and if you've ever thought about weight, it's likely that you've questioned what can you can do to boost your metabolism.  But what exactly is metabolism? 

I'm here to help you understand what metabolism is and what you can do to boost metabolism (and what may not be so effective!).

Prefer to watch instead of read? Here you go!

What Is Metabolism?

Your metabolism determines how much energy (i.e., calories) you burn each day. It's made up of three main components. 

  1. Basal Metabolism. Basal metabolism (or basal metabolic rate, BMR) is the energy you burn when you are at rest and it's controlled by the thyroid hormone called thyroxine. Even when you're just scrolling through this blog on the couch or on the bus, you're burning energy. In fact, the BMR portion of your total metabolism makes up the biggest part of your daily energy burn because just maintaining your body at rest - breathing, maintaining your body temperature, secreting hormones, and developing new tissue - takes a bunch of work! Factors like age, your height, weight, growth (during childhood, pregnancy), body composition, fasting/starvation, and stress can impact your BMR.
  2. Thermic Effect of Food. After you eat, your body kicks up metabolism to help use that food as fuel. This rise in metabolism, which accounts for about 5-10% of your daily energy burn, is called the thermic effect of food. 
  3. Physical Activity & Movement. Brushing your teeth, standing in line, walking around the grocery store, going for a run, or simply sitting...these daily activities raise metabolism. The more you move, the more energy you need to call up to deliver.

How Can I Raise Metabolism? 5 Tips to boost metabolism

5 Ways To Boost Metabolism | YES! Nutrition, LLC
  1. Hit the weights to build muscle! It takes more energy to maintain muscle mass than it does fat mass -- even when you're at rest!
  2. Move more! Finding ways to move more (and outside of sleep, rest less) can help boost your daily energy burn. Stand instead of sit at your desk at work, walk to the mailbox, and/or take a lap around the office every hour.
  3. Exercise. Thanks to something special known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), your metabolism burns more in the hours following strenuous exercise!
  4. Avoid low calorie diets! When you don't get enough calories (think: 700-1000 calories per day), this form of fasting/starvation can actually lower BMR! This means that low-calorie diets over the long term can harm metabolism -- and hinder weight loss -- instead of help. 
  5. Eat whole foods. Foods and ingredients like mustard, chilli (capsaicin), MCT oil and green tea have all been studied for their potential to slightly elevate metabolism through the thermic effect of food.  While these foods aren't going to lead to automatic weight loss (a lot of other factors matters, like getting good overall nutrition, exercising, sleeping, and reducing stress) adding them to your diet might not hurt!

What questions do you have about metabolism? Ask me in the comments below for your question to be answered in an upcoming blog post!