Metabolism is the term for all the chemical reactions in your body.
These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning.
However, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with metabolic rate, or the amount of calories you burn.
Having a high metabolism can also give you energy and make you feel better.
Here are 10 easy ways to increase your metabolism.
Eating food can increase your metabolism for a few hours.
This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). It's caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.Protein causes the largest rise in TEF. It increases your metabolic rate by 15–30%, compared to 5–10% for carbs and 0–3% for fats ( 1).
One small study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet (9).
Eating more protein can also reduce the drop in metabolism often associated with losing fat. This is because it helps prevent you from losing muscle, a common side effect of dieting (10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15).
Bottom Line: Eating more protein can boost your metabolism so that you burn more calories. It can also help you eat less.
This is because sugary drinks contain calories, so replacing them with water automatically reduces your calorie intake.
One study of overweight adults found that those who drank half a liter of water before their meals lost 44% more weight than those who didn't (19).
Bottom Line: Water can help you lose weight and keep it off. It increases your metabolism and helps fill you up before meals.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves quick and very intense bursts of activity.
Bottom Line: Mixing up your exercise routine, and adding in a few high-intensity workouts, can boost your metabolism and help you burn fat.
This means you will burn more calories each day, even at rest (40).
In one study, 48 overweight women were placed on a diet of 800 calories per day, along with either no exercise, aerobic exercise or resistance training (45).
After the diet, the women who did the resistance training maintained their muscle mass, metabolism and strength. The others lost weight, but also lost muscle mass and experienced a decrease in metabolism (45).
Bottom Line: Lifting weights is important for building and retaining muscle. Higher amounts of muscle will result in a higher metabolism.
In fact, compared with sitting, an afternoon of standing up at work can burn an extra 174 calories (48). If you have a desk job, try standing up for short periods to break up the length of time you spend sitting down. You can also invest in a standing desk (49, 50, 51, 52).
Bottom Line: Sitting for a long time burns few calories and is bad for your health. Try to stand up regularly or invest in a standing desk.
It's thought their metabolism-boosting properties may help prevent the dreaded weight loss plateau that occurs due to a decrease in metabolism.
Bottom Line: Drinking green tea or oolong tea can increase your metabolism. These teas may also help you lose weight and keep it off.
However, many people can't tolerate these spices at the doses required to have a significant effect (65).
One study of capsaicin, at acceptable doses, predicted that eating peppers would burn around 10 additional calories per meal. Over 6.5 years, this could account for 1 lb (0.5 kg) of weight loss for an average-weight male (66).
Alone, the effects of adding spices to your food may be quite small. However, it may be slightly useful when combined with other metabolism-boosting strategies (67).
Bottom Line: Eating spicy food could be beneficial for boosting your metabolism and help you maintain a healthy weight.
This may partly be caused by the negative effects of sleep deprivation on metabolism (70).
This could explain why many people who are sleep deprived feel hungry and struggle to lose weight.
Bottom Line: Lack of sleep can decrease the amount of calories you burn, change the way you process sugar and disrupt your appetite-regulating hormones.
However, this seems to affect lean people more. In one study, coffee increased fat burning by 29% for lean women, but only 10% for obese women (80).
Bottom Line: Drinking coffee can significantly increase your metabolism and help you lose weight.
Unlike other saturated fats, coconut oil contains a lot of medium-chain fats.
In one study, researchers found that medium-chain fats increased metabolism by 12%, compared to long-chain fats, which raised it by just 4% (87).
Bottom Line: Replacing other cooking fats with coconut oil may help boost your metabolism slightly.
Making small lifestyle changes and incorporating these tips into your routine can increase your metabolism.
Having a higher metabolism can help you lose weight and keep it off, while giving you more energy.