Metabolism is a term that describes 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 number of calories you burn.
The higher it is, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off.
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.
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).
Summary 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).
Summary 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.
One study in overweight young men found that 12 weeks of high-intensity exercise reduced fat mass by 4.4 pounds (2 kg) and belly fat by 17% (35).
Summary 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).
Summary Lifting weights is important for building and retaining muscle. Higher amounts of muscle will result in a higher metabolism.
Some health commentators have even dubbed it "the new smoking." This is partly because long periods of sitting burn fewer calories and can lead to weight gain (47).
In fact, compared to sitting, an afternoon of standing up at work can burn an extra 174 calories (48).
Summary 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.
These teas help convert some of the fat stored in your body into free fatty acids, which may increase fat burning by 10–17% (56).
It's thought their metabolism-boosting properties may help prevent the dreaded weight loss plateau that occurs due to a decrease in metabolism.
Summary Drinking green tea or oolong tea may 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 pound (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 lead to a slight advantage when combined with other metabolism-boosting strategies (67).
Summary 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.
Summary Lack of sleep can decrease the number 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).
Summary Drinking coffee can significantly increase your metabolism and help you lose weight.
Unlike other saturated fats, coconut oil is relatively high in 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).
Summary Replacing other cooking fats with coconut oil may help boost your metabolism slightly.