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There are 7 tips to speed up your metabolism. Calories do count, but it's also about how efficiently your body burns those calories. Your metabolism plays a big part in regulating your weight. Metabolism is the way your body uses up calories from the food you eat and turns them into energy.

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7 tips to speed up your metabolism

Ready to transform your sweet self into a lean, not-so-mean, fat-burning machine? You may be surprised to find that don't have to overhaul your lifestyle.

People make the mistake of thinking they have to make drastic changes to lose weight and get in shape, says Lyssie Lakatos, RD, LD, CDN, but the secret is to make small changes and incorporate them into their lives permanently.

"Dropping your caloric intake below 1,000 calories a day on a consistent basis will signal your body that you are in starvation mode, and will slow down your metabolism," warns Lakatos, who with her twin sister, Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, LD, CDN, is the co-author of "Fire Up Your Metabolism." When the metabolism slows, we store food as fat and gain weight.

Calories do count, but it's also about how efficiently your body burns those calories. Your metabolism plays a big part in regulating your weight, Shames says. Metabolism is the way your body uses up calories from the food you eat and turns them into energy. Metabolic rate is the speed at which you use up those calories. The goal is to get your metabolism into peak operating condition so you will burn the most calories all day long -- even while you sleep.

If you follow these 7 tips to speed up your metabolism, you might never again find yourself facing the next bigger size of cute jeans at your favorite store.

Tip 1 -- Determine your daily caloric needs: To rev up your fat-burning engine, don't overload your system with too much food, Shames says. Figure out how many calories you need to consume each day to lose weight and keep your metabolism humming. Caloric level is determined by taking into account your age, sex, height, weight, lean body mass and activity level. Here's a quick formula from Shames to give you an idea of your magic number: Multiply your body weight by 11. For example, a 140-pound woman would need to consume 1,540 calories per day to lose weight. If you're very active, you can multiply your weight by 12.

Tip 2 -- Divvy up your meals: Kick-start your metabolism and curb your appetite by dividing your meals into five to six small, nutritious meals a day instead of three squares. Eat a 200-400 calorie mini-meal every three to four hours. Your body will expend more energy to digest the food and your metabolic rate will increase, Lakatos says.

Tip 3 -- Just move! Physical activity accounts for 20 to 40 percent of calories burned each day. The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests that a good goal for many people is to work up to exercising four to six times a week for 30 to 60 minutes at a time. If you can't do that much, do what you can, say the twins. Walk the dog, park the car at the far end of the lot, take the stairs instead of the elevator, clean the house, just do something.

Tip 4 -- Pump iron: Muscle is your best friend! Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the pace at which your body burns calories at rest. It accounts for 60 to 70 percent of your daily calorie expenditure and it's closely linked to the amount of muscle you have. Muscle burns more calories than fat, and the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn, even while you sleep. Lean muscle needs calories just to exist, so start lifting those weights.

Tip 5 -- Sleep tight: Sleep loss may increase hunger and affect the body's metabolism, which may make it more difficult to lose weight, according to studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Lancet. People who lose sleep may continue to feel hungry despite adequate food intake because sleep loss has been shown to affect the secretion of cortisol, a hormone that regulates appetite. Make sure you get in your eight hours or more of shut-eye every night.

Tip 6 -- Eat lean protein and good carbs: Your body burns some of its own calories when it digests the food you eat. This is called the thermic effect of foods (TEF) and it's what makes protein (which has the highest thermic effect of any food) and good carbs metabolism-friendly. Lean protein such as turkey and chicken also builds calorie-burning muscle. Good carbs such as whole grains, legumes, veggies and fruit are also your body's major fuel source, Shames says. They provide the energy to get you up and moving so you can burn more calories.

Tip 7 -- Drink H2O: Researchers in Germany have found that drinking water may increase the rate at which people burn calories. Metabolic rates among study participants increased by 30 percent after consuming approximately 17 ounces of water. The energy-burning process of metabolism needs water to work effectively. Water also fills you up, curbs your appetite, flushes out your system, and rids the body of bloat. Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses per day -- more if you're active.


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