What Is Metabolism?

Metabolism is a fundamental process in the human body that converts food into energy to sustain life. It encompasses a series of biochemical reactions that occur within cells to maintain essential functions such as breathing, circulation, and digestion. Understanding metabolism is crucial for optimizing energy levels, maintaining a healthy weight, and promoting overall well-being.

How To Increase Your Metabolism: Top 3 Methods

Understanding Metabolism

Metabolism is often simplified as the body’s “calorie-burning” process. It consists of two main components: anabolism and catabolism. Anabolism involves the synthesis of molecules and the storage of energy, while catabolism involves the breakdown of molecules to release energy. Together, these processes regulate the body’s energy balance and support cellular function.

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is another critical aspect of metabolism. Recent research represents the number of calories the body requires at rest to maintain vital functions such as breathing and circulation. Factors such as age, gender, body composition, and genetics influence BMR, with lean muscle mass typically associated with a higher metabolic rate. [1]

How to Increase Metabolism?

Suggesting the best ways to boost metabolism through both exercise and diet, Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer Jesse Feder recommends getting in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to help boost metabolism. Additionally, consuming a diet high in dietary fiber, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains can help optimize gut health and metabolism.

Diet and Nutrition:

Diet and nutrition play a pivotal role in boosting metabolism and optimizing overall health. Here’s how you can enhance your metabolic function through dietary choices:

Consuming a Balanced Diet:

A balanced diet provides the essential nutrients your body needs to fuel metabolic processes efficiently. Including lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, tofu, and legumes helps build and repair muscle tissue, which in turn supports a higher metabolic rate. Fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes aid in digestion and promote a feeling of fullness, preventing overeating and supporting weight management.

According to a systematic review published in the National Institutes of Health, incorporating healthy fats from sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil helps regulate hormone production and supports metabolic function.

Eating Smaller, Frequent Meals:

Opting for smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day can help keep your metabolism active and prevent energy dips. Eating every few hours provides a steady stream of nutrients to fuel metabolic processes and maintain energy levels. It also prevents overeating during larger meals and helps stabilize blood sugar levels, which is crucial for metabolic health. However, it’s essential to focus on portion control and choose nutrient-dense foods to avoid excessive calorie intake.

Staying Hydrated:

Adequate hydration is essential for supporting metabolic processes and overall health. Water plays a vital role in various metabolic functions, including nutrient transport, waste removal, and temperature regulation. Drinking water before meals can also help curb appetite and prevent overeating. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day, and adjust your intake based on factors such as climate, physical activity level, and individual hydration needs.

Physical Activity:

physical activity that boost your metabolism

Physical Activity That Boost Your Metabolism. Shutterstock Image

Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to increase metabolism and burn calories. It plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and promoting metabolic efficiency. Here’s why:

  • Regular Exercise: Consistent physical activity stimulates various metabolic processes in the body, leading to increased energy expenditure and calorie burning. Engaging in regular exercise sessions helps keep metabolism active and contributes to weight management and overall metabolic health.
  • Mix of Cardiovascular Exercise and Strength Training: Incorporating a combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength training into your workout routine offers numerous metabolic benefits.

    Research presented at the National Library of Medicine[4] shows the importance of Cardiovascular exercises, such as running, cycling, or swimming, elevates heart rate and oxygen consumption, leading to calorie burning and improved cardiovascular fitness. On the other hand, strength training exercises, such as weightlifting or bodyweight exercises, help build lean muscle mass and increase metabolic rate.

  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Resistance Training: HIIT involves alternating between short bursts of intense exercise and periods of rest or lower-intensity activity. This form of training has been shown to elevate metabolism both during and after exercise, leading to increased calorie burning and fat loss. Similarly, resistance training, which involves lifting weights or using resistance bands to challenge muscles, helps build muscle mass and boost metabolism over time. The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate, meaning you burn more calories at rest.

Lifestyle Factors:

mastering stress a lifestyle approach to metabolism management

Mastering Stress: A Lifestyle Approach to Metabolism Management. Shutterstock Image

Getting Sufficient Sleep: Adequate sleep is crucial for maintaining metabolic health and overall well-being. During sleep, the body undergoes essential repair and regeneration processes, including hormone regulation and metabolic functions. Sleep deprivation or inadequate sleep disrupts these processes, leading to hormonal imbalances that can negatively impact metabolism.

Specifically, insufficient sleep can dysregulate hormones such as leptin and ghrelin, which control appetite and energy expenditure. When these hormones are disrupted, it can lead to increased hunger, cravings for high-calorie foods, and reduced energy expenditure, ultimately contributing to weight gain and metabolic dysfunction. Therefore, prioritizing quality sleep by aiming for 7-9 hours per night can help support optimal metabolic function and promote overall health.

Managing Stress Levels: Chronic stress is a significant contributor to metabolic disturbances and weight gain. When the body is under stress, it releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which trigger the body’s “fight or flight” response. While this response is essential for survival in acute situations, chronic stress can lead to dysregulation of cortisol levels, which can disrupt metabolism and promote fat storage, particularly around the abdominal area.

According to a study, stress eating and emotional eating behaviors can further exacerbate metabolic dysfunction and contribute to weight gain. [4]

Implementing stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, mindfulness practices, and yoga can help mitigate the effects of chronic stress on metabolism. These techniques promote relaxation, reduce cortisol levels, and enhance the body’s ability to cope with stressors, thereby supporting metabolic health and overall well-being.

Avoiding Crash Diets and Extreme Calorie Restriction: Crash diets and extreme calorie restriction are commonly used methods for rapid weight loss but can have detrimental effects on metabolic health in the long term. When the body is deprived of adequate calories and nutrients, it enters a state of starvation mode, slowing down metabolism to conserve energy and preserve vital functions.

As a result, metabolic rate decreases, making it harder to lose weight and easier to regain weight once normal eating patterns resume. Additionally, extreme calorie restriction can lead to muscle loss rather than fat loss, further compromising metabolic health and increasing the risk of nutrient deficiencies.

Instead of resorting to crash diets, adopting a balanced and sustainable approach to weight loss that includes regular physical activity, portion control, and nutrient-dense foods is key to promoting metabolic health and achieving long-term success. Focus on nourishing the body with whole foods, maintaining a calorie deficit through moderate dietary changes, and incorporating regular exercise to support metabolism and sustainable weight management.

Other Strategies:

  • – Incorporating metabolism-boosting supplements and spices such as green tea, cayenne pepper, and caffeine may offer temporary increases in metabolic rate.
  • – Intermittent fasting, where eating is restricted to certain time windows, has been shown to reset metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity in some individuals.
  • – Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can provide personalized recommendations and guidance for optimizing metabolic health.


Understanding metabolism and its role in energy production and weight management is essential for promoting overall health and well-being. By adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as balanced nutrition, regular exercise, stress management, and adequate sleep, individuals can support their metabolic function and optimize their energy levels for a vibrant and fulfilling life. Remember, sustainable habits and consistency are key to long-term metabolic health.

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4 Sources

We review published medical research in respected scientific journals to arrive at our conclusions about a product or health topic. This ensures the highest standard of scientific accuracy.

[1] Vybornaya KV, Sokolov AI, Kobelkova IV, Lavrinenko SV, Klochkova SV, Nikityuk DB. [Basal metabolic rate as an integral indicator of metabolism intensity]. Vopr Pitan. 2017;86(5):5-10. Russian. doi: 10.24411/0042-8833-2017-00069. Epub 2017 Sep 8. PMID: 30695621.
[2] Carbone JW, Pasiakos SM. Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit. Nutrients. 2019 May 22;11(5):1136. doi: 10.3390/nu11051136. PMID: 31121843; PMCID: PMC6566799.
[3] Patel H, Alkhawam H, Madanieh R, Shah N, Kosmas CE, Vittorio TJ. Aerobic vs anaerobic exercise training effects on the cardiovascular system. World J Cardiol. 2017 Feb 26;9(2):134-138. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v9.i2.134. PMID: 28289526; PMCID: PMC5329739.
[4] Daubenmier J, Kristeller J, Hecht FM, Maninger N, Kuwata M, Jhaveri K, Lustig RH, Kemeny M, Karan L, Epel E. Mindfulness Intervention for Stress Eating to Reduce Cortisol and Abdominal Fat among Overweight and Obese Women: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Study. J Obes. 2011;2011:651936. doi: 10.1155/2011/651936. Epub 2011 Oct 2. PMID: 21977314; PMCID: PMC3184496.
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Dr. Sarah Brewer, MSc, MA, RN

Dr. Sarah Brewer is qualified from Cambridge University with degrees in Natural Sciences, Medicine, and Surgery. She is an award-winnin