Metabolism is a term that one often hears in relation to weight loss. Usually, people use metabolism to refer to how quickly or efficiently their body uses calories. A higher metabolic rate means that your body uses more calories, just doing what you do every day. Unfortunately, metabolic rate slows down a little bit as we age. People’s metabolic rate slows by approximately 2-4% after they turn 25 (on average). It continues to drop as they age. So, someone whose metabolism uses 1500 calories when he/she turns 25, may see that drop to 1400 calories by age 35, 1200 calories by age 55, and so on. That said, there are a few things you can do to boost your metabolism, which will help you lose weight.
Drinking water can increase your metabolism! In a randomized, controlled 12-week study, people were divided into two groups. Both were put on the same calorie restricted diet. One group drank 2 cups of water prior to every meal (in addition to the water that they regularly drank throughout the day). The other group did not drink the extra water before a meal. Over the 12-week period, the water drinking group lost an average of 5 more pounds of body fat compared to the non-water drinking group! That’s 44% more weight lost! Want to make the effect even more powerful? Drink cold water, because your body uses up energy to warm the water up to your body’s temperature (burns approximately 25 more calories).
According to a research study, protein causes a person’s metabolic rate to increase by a greater amount than carbohydrates or fats (15-30% increase for protein, 5-10% for carbohydrates, 0-3% for fats). Our bodies burn calories in order to digest, absorb and use the nutrients in the food that we eat. This is referred to as the Thermic Effect of Food. Eating more protein will cause you to burn more calories and also help you retain muscle mass as you lose weight. (for more information on how protein aids in weight loss, see my article titled, "Importance of Protein for Weight Loss")
Studies have found that green tea contains a compound that may increase the calories and fat you burn. A 2011 meta-analysis published in Obesity Reviews found that consuming approximately 3 cups of green tea on average led to a 100-calorie metabolism boost per day.
Studies indicate that not getting enough sleep can cause a person's metabolism to slow down. In addition, there are other factors that result in people gaining weight when they don't get enough sleep, as a lack of sleep seems to cause the body to release a hormone, called ghrelin, which can make a person feel hungry. It also releases less leptin, a hormone that helps a person feel full. Getting enough sleep can help ensure that these hormones remain balanced. This can prevent a person from overeating.
High-Intensity Interval Training (it’s not as bad as it sounds!)
I know, you don’t want to hear about exercise. However, according to Harvard Medical School, adding some high-intensity interval training to your regular routine will increase your metabolism. After a period of interval training, people’s metabolism can stay revved up for as much as a full day.
If you are already walking, or jogging, it is easy to turn it into High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). For example, when you're walking or jogging, speed up for 30 to 60 seconds, and then slow to your usual pace; repeat the cycle for eight to 12 minutes. That’s it!
You can't entirely blame a sluggish metabolism for weight gain. Losing weight and keeping it off is not easy (you probably already know that). Studies suggest that the best approach is to combine adequate protein intake with weight training, which increases muscle mass and also metabolism.
There are so many ways to lose weight. What is most important is to find a way that will allow you to lose the weight and then maintain that desirable weight. Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. However, at the end of the day, weight loss is mostly about what you eat and drink. It means changing a lifetime of habits. That can be difficult, but it is not impossible!
There are good programs available. Just remember that what works for one person won’t work for everyone. You are unique with your own set of habits, needs and physiology. Most weight loss programs take a “food-first” approach. When you join, you get a food plan that restricts your calorie intake. Follow the plan and you will lose weight. The problem is that research suggests that the majority of people cannot follow a restrictive food plan forever. Once the weight loss period is over, people tend to slowly shift back to their old habits.
In my experience, the best way to lose weight is by learning and understanding what drives you, what makes you tick. Then, introduce habit changes, gradually, that move you towards making food and beverage choices that will see you lose weight and keep it off. Following this approach will cause you to learn new habits that replace your old habits. Yes, there may be some foods that you should stay away from. Maybe you don’t like the way you feel after eating them, you don’t digest them well or perhaps they are foods that trigger you to eat more than you would like to eat. However, the foods that one person needs to avoid may be totally different than the foods someone else needs to avoid. I once worked with a man who had to stop eating cottage cheese! It just triggered him. Once he started eating it, he couldn’t stop until the container was empty. Someone else I worked with was so drawn to popcorn (which can be a very healthy snack if prepared properly), that he decided that he had to keep popcorn out of his life.
You can work on this on your own or you can go to a weight loss and habit change coach who can work with you to figure out what the best approach for you is.
There are things you can do to increase the number of calories your body burns on a daily basis. Will it help you lose weight? Yes. However, at the end of the day, in and of itself, it won’t get you to your goal, just like exercising alone won’t get you to your goal. What these metabolism boosters will do is to help improve your weight loss by encouraging your body to burn more calories.
In order to experience permanent change, you must change permanently. That means replacing habits that have a negative effect on what you want to achieve with habits that have a positive effect on what you want to achieve. While you’re at it, try a few of the simple tricks that will boost your metabolism.
Try thinking of it this way. What can you do today that is just 1% better than what you did yesterday? If you do that every day, you will be surprised at what happens!
 “Chapter 10, What Effects Energy Out.” The Essentials of Nutrition and Coaching for Health, Fitness, and Sport, by Krista Scott-Dixon et al., 4th ed., Unit 2, Precision Nutrition, 2020, pp. 108–112.  Dennis, Elizabeth A et al. “Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults.” Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) vol. 18,2 (2010): 300-7. doi:10.1038/oby.2009.235  Boschmann, Michael et al. “Water-induced thermogenesis.” The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism vol. 88,12 (2003): 6015-9. doi:10.1210/jc.2003-030780  Pesta, Dominik H, and Varman T Samuel. “A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats.” Nutrition & metabolism vol. 11,1 53. 19 Nov. 2014, doi:10.1186/1743-7075-11-53  Hursel, R et al. “The effects of catechin rich teas and caffeine on energy expenditure and fat oxidation: a meta-analysis.” Obesity reviews : an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity vol. 12,7 (2011): e573-81. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00862.x  Sharma, Sunil, and Mani Kavuru. “Sleep and metabolism: an overview.” International journal of endocrinology vol. 2010 (2010): 270832. doi:10.1155/2010/270832  Harvard Health Publishing. (2020, June 17). The truth about metabolism. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-metabolism
Jordan Hoffman is the founder of Paradigm Weight Loss, specializing in lifelong weight loss results for men. He holds a PN1 nutritional coaching certification from Precision Nutrition, as well as a BCOMM and MBA. He has been maintaining a 65-pound weight loss since 2006 and has worked with thousands of men, teaching them how to lose weight and keep it off, since 2009. For more information on how Paradigm Weight Loss can help you to gain control of your eating and experience a lifetime of healthy weight stabilization, contact Paradigm Weight Loss at firstname.lastname@example.org.