How to speed up your metabolism naturally
Metabolism is one of those magic buzzwords which gets thrown around a lot. The average gym goer is well aware that a fast metabolism is supposed to be the secret to effortless weight management, but with dozens of products on the market boasting the ability to boost your metabolism and turn you into a fast-burning machine, as well as numerous exercise plans and lifestyle tips, it can be hard to figure out where the truth ends and the myths begin.
To clear up the confusion, here are the most common myths around speeding up your metabolism and proven ways you can boost your metabolism:
Fact: Short, intense exercise increases metabolism
A series of studies have, in recent years, given credibility to the old fitness guru claim that intense workouts can help to boost your metabolism. One 2011 study found a significant increase in metabolic rate following an intense 45-minute bout of cycling. What’s more, the metabolism of the test subjects remained elevated for 14 hours after the end of the exercise.
When it comes to speeding up your metabolism, try focusing on completing short but intense workouts like HIIT that will challenge you and get your heart rate high.
Fact: Green tea boosts your metabolism (at least a little)
This is one of those claims which is often met with scepticism by certain elements of the health community. At least one study from 1999 did find, however, that a green tea extract significantly boosted the 24-hour energy expenditure of test subjects while also improving fat oxidation.
Other studies have come to similar conclusions.
A 2014 meta-analysis found that green tea did have a positive (though minor) impact in promoting fat loss, with the effects being stronger for certain ethnicities than others and also for subjects who consumed different levels of caffeine on a daily basis.
If you're looking to boost your metabolism naturally, try swapping your usual cup of coffee with green tea to get your caffeine hit.
Fact: Not getting enough sleep wrecks your metabolism
While there doesn’t seem to be much evidence to suggest that getting “a lot” of sleep boosts your metabolism any more than getting “enough” sleep, the science is clear on one fact: being sleep deprived ruins your metabolism at various levels and promotes fat gain.
One 2007 study found that sleep deprivation not only had a negative effect on appetite (causing subjects to over-eat) but that it also lowered overall energy expenditure in the body (meaning that the excess calories were significantly more likely to be stored away as fat) while also having a negative effect on insulin resistance.
Not sleeping enough is well known to be one of the worst things an individual can do for their overall health. A terrible metabolism is clearly one part of that. Make sure to get enough rest, and sleep by setting an alarm for when to go to bed.
For more tips on getting a restful sleep, check our blog on all about Sleep here.
Myth: More muscle mass equals a faster metabolism
This one is a bit tricky. While studies have suggested that individuals with a greater amount of muscle mass burn more calories after an intense workout, this doesn’t necessarily suggest that individuals with more muscle mass have a faster metabolism in a rested state – only that when the muscles are recovering from a workout, the metabolic rate will be higher for more muscular individuals.
If both a muscular and slim individual are in a completely rested state, however, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence out there to suggest that the muscular individual will be burning significantly more calories just due to having the extra muscle mass.
What this means at the end of the day is that muscle mass can help in maintaining a raised metabolism – but probably only if you’re working those muscles out frequently and keeping them in “recovery mode” for extended periods of time.
Myth: Eating small meals, often, boosts your metabolism
This is one of the most persistent myths surrounding metabolism, even though it’s also one of the most clearly debunked and refuted. A 1993 study from the University of Limburg found that meal frequency had no statistically significant effect on metabolic rate and overall energy expenditure.
This research has since been backed up by numerous other studies.
The bottom line is that you need to be watching the total number of calories you consume in a day. Whether you eat 3 or 6 meals is unlikely to have an impact on anything other than how full you feel at any given time and how likely you’ll be to overeat or not.
Myth: Eating before bed slows your metabolism
The idea that eating before bed causes a metabolic crash has been doing the rounds for some time.
However, one large 2015 scientific survey of the available data suggests that things aren’t quite so straightforward.
Large, calorie dense meals just before bed, combined with irregular sleep patterns, do seem to have a potential negative effect in promoting fat gain. Likewise, eating before bed does appear to present certain specific problems for obese individuals.
These results are not consistent, however. Obese individuals seem able to completely avoid the negative side-effects of eating just before bed by exercising regularly – and those negative effects don’t seem to apply to fit individuals at all.
Also, while eating large meals just before bed might not be ideal, eating a small nutrient and protein rich meal seems to not only improve overnight muscle growth but also leads to a faster metabolism the next morning.