Having a high metabolism can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Metabolism, or the amount of energy a body burns to maintain normal function, can help you get rid of excess weight faster and improve your health. (1) Poor metabolism may not only prevent you from losing weight, but it could also contribute to other dangerous health disorders. Combined factors, including conditions related to poor metabolism, can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, strokes and diseases related to fat buildups in arteries. (2)
Metabolism is often thought of as a genetic trait. However, it doesn’t have to be! There are plenty of ways to take control of your metabolism. Here are five things you can do today to boost it.
1) Get plenty of sleep
One of the most often ignored pieces of health advice (ever!) is to get plenty of sleep. Research shows that sleeping less than your body needs can have negative effects on many aspects of your mental and physical health, including metabolic rates. Lack of sleep has been linked to health issues such as increased blood sugar levels and increased hunger, as well as decreased mental function. It can also disrupt regular eating cycles and prevent the body from repairing damaged cells, which prevents weight loss and lowers the metabolic rate. (3)
2) HIIT exercise
One of the best ways to increase your metabolism and burn fat is through specific types of workouts. HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a shorter workout that involves quick, intense bursts of activity. HIIT workouts increase the use of oxygen for up to 24 hours following the workout and help increase metabolism post-exercise. (4). These high-intensity workouts have become popular because they require less time than traditional cardio workouts, such as jogging for 30 minutes, but they yield results equal to or better than endurance training. Multiple studies have found that while HIIT workouts burn fewer calories during the workout compared with traditional cardio, high-intensity training can result in more fat loss post-workout because of positive impact on metabolism. (5). An example for that would be ‘Cross Fit’ classes with different stations. You can find these classes in several gyms around your town.
3) Weight training
Another type of workout that is known to increase metabolism is weight or resistance training. Resistance training builds more muscle. Building muscle mass can help increase metabolism because muscle has higher metabolic activity than fat mass. This also means that muscle burns more calories while you rest than fat. (6) Many women are afraid of the thought of gaining muscle. During the 18 years I have been in the health industry and the five years I worked as a personal trainer, I have never seen a woman that got huge muscle tone by simply doing weight training. In most cases, women who started to do weight training lost fat much faster than women who just did aerobic exercises. Today, we recommend that a major part of your exercise would be dedicated to resistance training.
4) Pay attention to diet
A well-balanced diet helps your body fight a plethora of diseases and stay healthy. It can also ensure a strong metabolism, which aids weight loss or maintenance. Eating enough protein can keep the hunger away, help you feel satiated longer, maintain your energy levels, and aid in building muscle mass. (7) High protein snacks or meals throughout the day, such as almonds, eggs or fish, can help support your metabolism. (8) You can use resources such as the American Heart Association (9) to research healthful diets and proper nutrition.
5) Cutting the carbs!
Reducing the amount of potatoes, rice, sugar, bread and other carbs will help you greatly with losing the extra weight. Many diets over the years, such as Paleo, low carbs diet, or Atkins diet showed that people lost weight just by reducing the amount of carbs. It is also the most challenging of diets to do. Letting go of the morning cereals or the pasta for lunch is not an easy thing to do. But if you focus on vegetables, protein, and small amounts of healthy fats, you’ll lose weight much faster.
6) Stay hydrated
Drinking the recommended amount of water each day is beneficial for our health. It flushes toxins, helps carry nutrients to cells and provides moisture for tissues. (10). However, water can also help increase metabolic rates. Studies have found that drinking water helps increase metabolism and resting energy expenditures, which helps maintain or reduce weight. (11).
7) Check your thyroid gland
The thyroid is like the engine in your car. It dictates how fast or slow you are moving. In your body, it dedicates how many calories you are burning and how fast your body produces energy. If your engine slows down, your car will slow down. In a similar way, if your thyroid slows down, your metabolism slows down and you might feel tired. According to the American Thyroid Association, low function of the thyroid leads to lower metabolism, also called basal metabolic rate (BMR).  If you are struggling to lose weight or are gaining weight, you might have a thyroid problem. Unfortunately, most doctors misdiagnose thyroid problems or prescribe thyroid medication that does not resolve the symptoms.
For more information on thyroid function and testing, read our article on the thyroid:
12) Thyroid & Weight. American Thyroid Association. https://www.thyroid.org/wp-content/uploads/patients/brochures/Thyroid_and_Weight.pdf. Accessed 2016.