Rev Up Your Metabolism

Bowl of veggies on a wooden table

Irene Wissel/EyeEm/Getty Images

When it comes to losing weight, metabolism is a key factor in our success. Our bodies need a certain amount of calories to function, but go too far above that and you gain weight. If you go too far below that, you can actually slow the metabolism further as the body goes into starvation mode.

The question is, how much can you change your metabolism, and is there some way to speed it up?

Metabolism Basics

Metabolism is just one part of your total energy expenditure each day.

Total energy expenditure is made up of different components, including:

Looking at these different areas, can you already see some places where you could increase your metabolism? Below are some ideas for how you can do just that.

How to Speed Up Your Metabolism

  • Eat breakfast - When you wake up in the morning, you haven't eaten in a long time. Skipping this meal means you start your day with a metabolism that's already sluggish.
  • Eat according to your activities - If you do most of your physical activity during the day, make breakfast and lunch your larger meals so you have enough energy to get everything done.
  • Avoid skipping meals - Remember, one part of the metabolism equation is the thermic effect of food. Eating more frequently throughout the day can keep that effect going while keeping your blood sugar at even levels. When you get too hungry, you may overeat out of sheer starvation.
  • Avoid dieting without exercise - Changing your diet may be your first step in losing weight, but restricting your food intake without exercise can suppress your metabolism. As you lose weight, your body will burn fewer calories at rest because it has less mass to sustain. But restricting food can slow your metabolism down disproportionately, causing long-term metabolic damage. This is just one more reason to avoid fad diets and focus more on learning how to eat healthy.
  • Do your cardio - Cardio is essential for revving up your metabolism. In one study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, a group of men and women exercised for 3-5 days a week for 20-45 minutes per session, working at a moderate intensity. At the end of the 16-month study, the women increased their RMR by an average of 132 calories, while the men went up by about 129 calories. 
  • Lift weights - We often rely on cardio for losing weight, but strength training is just as important. Remember, muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so the more you have, the higher your metabolism will be. In fact, one study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that older menand women increased their RMR by about 365 calories after 26 weeks of strength training

A Word From Verywell

The great news in all of this is that you can change your metabolism. Even small changes—taking a walk every day, getting up from your desk more often, eating regularly, and introducing a simple strength program—can make a difference.

In fact, it's clear that dieting, the most popular method for losing weight, may be the worst. That means you don't have to spend another day feeling deprived or restricting foods. Free yourself from the diet trap and you may just start losing weight for good.

6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Redman LM, Smith SR, Burton JH, Martin CK, Il-yasova D, Ravussin E. Metabolic slowing and reduced oxidative damage with sustained caloric restriction support the rate of living and oxidative damage theories of aging. Cell Metab. 2018;27(4):805-815. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2018.02.019

  2. Rosenbaum M, Leibel RL. Adaptive thermogenesis in humansInt J Obes (Lond). 2010;34(0 1):S47-S55. doi:10.1038/ijo.2010.184

  3. Maki KC, Phillips-Eakley AK, Smith KN. The effects of breakfast consumption and composition on metabolic wellness with a focus on carbohydrate metabolism. Adv Nutr. 2016;7(3):613S-621S. doi:10.3945/an.115.010314

  4. Ekmekcioglu C, Touitou Y. Chronobiological aspects of food intake and metabolism and their relevance on energy balance and weight regulationObes Rev. 2011;12(1):14-25. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2010.00716.x

  5. Potteiger, JA, Kirk EP, Jacobsen DJ, Donnelly JE. Changes in resting metabolic rate and substrate oxidation after 16 months of exercise training in overweight adults. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008;18(1):79-95. doi:10.1123/ijsnem.18.1.79

  6. Hunter GR, Wetzstein CJ, Fields DA, Brown A, Bamman MM. Resistance training increases total energy expenditure and free-living physical activity in older adultsJ Appl Physiol. 2000;89(3):977-984. doi:10.1152/jappl.2000.89.3.977

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."