How to boost metabolism naturally

7 workout and diet tips from HIIT and better sleep to spicy foods that will help weight loss

How to boost your metabolism naturally
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If you’re aiming to boost your metabolism in order to lose weight and keep it off, exercise is definitely one of the best ways to do it, as we’ll explain here. But there are other ways to speed up metabolism and lose weight in the process. We’ve collected seven tips to help boost your metabolism and to kick-start your weightloss journey today. Although please note that while these ways to speed up your metabolism are easy to understand, they do require some effort to carry out.

A slow metabolism can cause a lot of trouble over time but luckily, you don't have to put yourself through the horrors of intermittent fasting or the keto diet in order to boost metabolism – although both those diets have been researched thoroughly and shown to aid weight loss, with the right application.

• Boost your metabolism effortlessly by following this EASY diet tip

An improved rate of metabolism can help you keep weight off, and generally turn you into a healthier and leaner individual. As usual, there's no instant fix to be had here, but being fit and having a faster metabolism quickly become a virtuous circle.

If you want to lose weight, you should consider applying some of the tips below to your daily routine. Who knows, they might help you lose belly fat sooner rather than later. If you want to do the opposite, check out this article about how to gain weight fast.

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How to boost your metabolism naturally

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1. Do HIIT/high-intensity workouts 

Why should you try HIIT workouts? For one, it improves metabolism and burns calories long after you finished with your daily HIIT session, making you a fat-torching machine that's on 24/7. The best thing about HIIT workouts is that they can be done anywhere using any sort of equipment: you can do a full body HIIT workout in the park or even follow the ultimate HIIT workout that uses your bodyweight only (and a skipping rope).

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You can also have a HIIT sessions on a treadmill, elliptical trainer or rowing machine but even if you haven't got the best home gym setup, you can do HIIT with cheap fitness equipment still available to buy online. Try to do HIIT workouts in the morning: research reveals what is the best time for exercising for weight loss.

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How to boost your metabolism naturally

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2. Get down with the spice

Eating moderately spicy food has lots of benefits and including spicier dishes in your diet can help boost metabolism too. Capsaicin, the chemical that gives chilli peppers their 'hot' taste, is said to help burn more calories and reduce the risk of obesity too. As a 2017 research cites, "epidemiological data revealed that the consumption of foods containing capsaicin was associated with a lower prevalence of obesity" and "dietary red pepper can suppress energy intake and modify macronutrient intake through appetite and satiety regulation".

In another study about capsaicinoids, "it was observed that consumption of capsaicinoids increases energy expenditure by approximately 50 kcal/day, and that this would produce clinically significant levels of weight loss in 1-2 years."

What does this all mean? Spicy food will help regulate your food intake by making you less hungry ("satiety regulation") and it will also help you burn more calories without any exercise. Granted, not many calories, but applying this small change alongside all the other lifestyle tweaks, you can effectively supercharge your metabolism in a sustainable way.

However, don't try to overdo the heat by eating spicy food all the time. As they say, "the dose makes the poison", and eating too much hot food can have an adverse effect on your digestive system.

How to boost your metabolism naturally

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3. Include more protein in your diet

According to research cited by Healthline, "protein causes the largest rise in TEF (thermic effect of food). It increases your metabolic rate by 15–30%, compared to 5–10% for carbs and 0–3% for fats." As Healthline explains, the "thermic effect of food caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal."

Since digesting protein takes more effort from your body, by eating more of it you will basically work out using your metabolic system (we might be exaggerating here). Protein is also essential for muscle repair and recovery, so if you are actively working out, it is recommended to take between 1.6-2 grams of protein per body kilogram per day.

You should source protein from a variety of food stuff like lean meat, nuts, green veg and eggs. Supplementing protein is also popular among athletes: protein powder shakes are probably the most convenient way to get your protein fix on the go but you can also have protein bars or jerky as well as post workout snack.

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How to boost your metabolism naturally

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4. Don't forget your micronutrients either

As well as increasing your protein intake and reducing bad fats and carbs in your diet, you should also keep an eye out for a good balance of micronutrients, minerals and vitamins. as in the case protein, these micronutrients should be sourced from vegetables, fish, lean meat etc as the natural sources contain other beneficial substances as well, not just synthesised vitamins found in food supplements.

Probiotics can also help improve metabolism and maintain a healthy gut microbiome, essential for well-functioning digestion. In a research paper published in 2013, the researchers concluded that "Probiotics may restore the composition of the gut microbiome and introduce beneficial functions to gut microbial communities, resulting in amelioration or prevention of gut inflammation and other intestinal or systemic disease phenotypes."

B vitamins have also been said to improve metabolism as they play an essential role in metabolising macronutrients efficiently. Good sources of B vitamins include legumes, eggs, lean meat and bananas

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How to boost your metabolism naturally

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5. Follow a regular eating and sleeping pattern

Everyone likes to sleep in every now and then and we are not suggesting you should wake up super early every day for no reason. Waking up and going to bed roughly at the same time can help your body build a routine which in turn will have a positive effect on your metabolism too. This is especially beneficial for people who otherwise like to hit the snooze button 20 times each morning until they can roll out of bed.

Instead on going cold turkey and wake up much earlier on day one, try moving the wake up time a little bit earlier each day/week until you reached the preferred wake up time. Once you used to the new wake up time, your body will wake up automatically, even without setting an alarm.

It's also beneficial to have food roughly at the same time throughout the day so your metabolic system is at the ready when the food is on its way. Food will be digested more efficiently and quicker too if you stick to an eating schedule. Again, no need to have breakfast 8AM on the dot every morning, but having it around that time will definitely improve metabolism.

Needless to say, eating healthier food stuff can also boost metabolism significantly: fibrous food and plenty of water is key to maintain a healthy gut microbiome.

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6. Try to be NEAT(er)

How to boost your metabolism naturally

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This technique may have a very complicated-sounding name – Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis – and a vaguely annoying acronym – NEAT – but it's actually very simple. NEAT means adjusting how you live your day-to-day life, in order to be more active. You know when exercise experts say, 'Take the stairs, not the lift' and you think, 'Oh yes,  good idea,' but then you don't do it? Well NEAT is actually doing things like that.

Like a lot of great ways to get fit, NEAT is perfectly straightforward in principle, but it does require some effort on your part. However the great thing about NEAT for many people is that it specifically does not involve going to the gym or setting aside time for exercise. Although of course, it can also be used as one component of a healthy lifestyle, alongside gym, running, cycling, watching Joe Wicks, etc.

• Learn about using NEAT to speed up your metabolism

How to boost your metabolism naturally

(Image credit: Getty Images)

7. Drink coffee, green tea and more water

Caffeine found in coffee and teas can boost metabolism significantly. Not everyone reacts to caffeine the same way and it is also recommended not to drink too many cups of coffee/caffeinated beverages in a day. Green tea has a lower caffeine content so combining coffee and green tea consumption can have better results.

Drinking more water can also improve metabolism: combine increased water consumption with more fibrous food for the best results.

Matt Kollat
Matt Kollat

Matt is T3's very own fitness and nutrition writer. In his free time, he swims, runs, cycles and tries various resistance training workouts so he can ramble about them to people who aren't really interested in fitness.