The best way to improve your metabolic rate to lose weight

You need to understand the connection between body weight and metabolism. A sluggish metabolism can make the weight pile on and/or slow down weight loss. Learn to boost your metabolic rate to lose weight in a healthy manner and to ensure it stays off permanently. Learn to do things right.

Metabolism is the rate at which the human body burns calories. People who struggle with weight issues also struggle with a sluggish metabolism. The relationship between calories and weight is well known. The more calories you consume the more weight you pile on, the fewer calories you consume the quicker the weight loss. However, it is not as simple as it sounds. Weight loss does not happen by making drastic cuts to the calorie intake. Weight loss happens when the metabolism functions to its full capacity. Fitness and health experts equate metabolism to an engine, which works best when it is fuelled.

Understanding metabolism

Fuelling the body is essential. And by fuelling I mean giving it food. The metabolic rate increases when the body is fed. It is a common assumption that starving or/and eating less food induces weight loss. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite happens when the body is deprived of food. There is a whole science behind metabolic rate, but I'll keep it short and crisp and easy to understand. Here is what happens when the body is deprived of food -

  • The metabolism slows down in an attempt to store and preserve energy
  • When the metabolism slows down losing weight becomes difficult, and weight gain happens more easily
  • Eating patterns that are deficient in nutrients and calories cause rapid muscle loss, instead of loss of fat reserves, because nutrient and calorie deprivation causes the body to turn to muscles to draw energy

Factors that determine metabolic rate

Metabolic rate is never constant. It depends on many external factors that include age, lifestyle and our genetic profile, among other things. Here is a quick rundown on major factors that determine our metabolic rate –


Age is a major deciding factor in establishing our metabolic rate. The metabolic rate tends to slow down with age. A rough estimate indicates that our calorie requirements generally decline by 2% every ten years. Hence, our calorie needs at 45 will be 2% less than what they were at 35, and 2% more than what they will be at 55.


The metabolism works differently in different people. A few people are blessed with a naturally faster metabolism, and it's mostly because of their genes. Such people can eat a horse for a meal and not show it.

Meal schedules

How often you eat can manipulate your metabolism. Interestingly, the metabolic rate rises considerably during the process of digestion. The process is known as the thermal effect of food – it is what creates a feeling of warmth, after a meal. Studies show that there is a considerable rise in the metabolic rate, nearing 20% - 30%, every time a meal is eaten. This rise in metabolism is maintained for the next 2-3 hours. This fascinating finding is also indicative of the fact that this metabolic boost is not experienced when the body is deprived of food. Furthermore, the lack of food causes the body to go into energy saving mode. The body cannot differentiate whether the food deprivation is part of a planned diet or because of famine or other extreme circumstances. It does what it is supposed to do – and automatically slows down metabolism to conserve energy. It's the body's natural reflexes at work.

To maintain healthy metabolic rate women are advised to eat every three hours and men every five hours.

Recommended reading : Eat to boost energy levels

Muscle to body ratio

In order to sustain muscle cells use about 8 times more energy as compared to fat cells. Hence, higher muscle to fat ratio in the body would boost metabolism.

Activity level

You burn more calories when you are active as opposed to sitting idle. The more you move the more calories you burn. The body continues to burn extra calories way after a moderate to strenuous workout is completed. Exercise or being active improves the metabolic rate.


During the metabolism process the body witnesses thousands of chemical reactions. The body requires a range of nutrients for this to happen successfully. A few nutrients can be labelled as essential for the body to metabolise food, these include vitamins from the B group and vitamin C. The best way to ensure the body receives the required nutrition is to eat a wholesome diet, comprising of a variety of foods.

Safe ways to improve metabolic rate

A high metabolic rate is generally preferred because of its associated benefits. It causes weight loss and ensures optimum energy levels. So, here are some simple methods that can help in raising the metabolic rate safely.

Regulate meals

This means that you must eat regular meals – no skipping of meals, and no crash dieting. It also means eating a balanced diet, comprising of all the nutrients the body requires. The right amount of minerals and vitamins and proteins, fibre and carbohydrates will have the metabolism functioning efficiently.

Recommended reading : Importance of eating foods of different colours

Make breakfast count

What you eat for breakfast sets the pace for the metabolism to run. Your metabolic rate drops by 5% during the night. And this rate is maintained until the body is fuelled again. So, eat a healthy and a hearty breakfast that provides with all the essential nutrients. Drinking a glass of milk or munching on a fruit is not the right way to kick start your day. Pack your breakfast plate with healthy choices – carbs, protein, fibre, minerals, and vitamins.

Get moving

Exercise is crucial for improving the metabolic rate. Make exercise a habit – do different routines or stick to one, but practice something that raises your heart rate and works your muscles.

Eat and drink to up your metabolism

There are foods and drinks that actually improve metabolic rate. Therefore, including the right foods in your diet will improve the metabolism. Try the foods in the list below and make your metabolism work better for you –

Hot foods

Chilli hot and spicy foods that have enough heat in them to set your mouth on fire can cause an increase in heart rate, for close to three hours, after a meal. This ensures that the metabolic rate stays at a high as well.

Protein rich foods

Consumption of foods with high protein content can boost metabolism since protein has a high thermal-effect as compared to other foods. It results in the burning of more calories when digestion takes place. That is the secret perhaps of the success of The Atkins and other high-protein diets.

There is, however, the risk involved in eating too much protein, as it could result in the consumption of high levels of saturated fats that can cause multiple health problems. High-protein diets are also linked with kidney problems and loss of calcium from the bones.

Caffeine drinks

Beverages that contain caffeine are known to raise the heart rate, as well as the metabolic rate. However, green tea increases metabolism but does not affect the heart rate.

Word of caution

Overconsumption of any of the above-mentioned foods can be detrimental to health and lead to health issues. For best effects, consume these foods in moderation.

Calorie controlled diets are usually unsuccessful

Losing weight through a stringent calorie-controlled diet plan might seem as the easiest method of losing weight. However, the weight-loss is not permanent. The weight gets piled on quickly, once the diet is replaced by normal meals.

Things to remember

  • Diet plans that prescribe meals with fewer than 1000 calories a day, should be avoided. The body looks at the sudden reduction in the calorie intake as a sign of danger and puts the brakes on the metabolic rate, causing it to slow down by as much as 45%
  • Consuming fewer calories does reduce weight. But, once the ideal weight is reached people tend to begin eating regular meals. This creates an excess of calories which the body cannot burn because the metabolic rate would have fallen, over a period of time. The body requires fewer calories to function and the excess calories get stored in the body, resulting in quick weight gain
  • Diets that recommend low-fat or zero-fat intake are bad news. Fat is a vital food and is as essential as all the other nutrients. Low-fat diets can cause the metabolic rate to plummet and also cause the early formation of wrinkles, before time. Do not eliminate fat from your diet, instead switch to healthy fats

Recommended reading : Healthy fats that you must eat


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