According to Encyclopedia Britannica, your metabolism is “the sum of the chemical reactions that take place within each cell of a living organism and that provide energy for vital processes and for synthesizing new organic material.”
Going by this definition, it’s clear that metabolism is much more than just the process of burning calories, which is what most people are likely referring to when they say something like, “I want to boost my metabolism.”
Of course, the way the body processes food is a component of the metabolism, but it also includes a long list of other biological processes that work in unison to ensure that the body can function optimally.
So, if you want to improve the efficiency of your metabolism, no matter what the reason, in addition to some of the obvious things like diet and exercise, you’ll have to consider several other factors, including things like the timing of your meals and even your emotional relationship with food.
Ready to learn how you can take your metabolism to the next level? Sarah Waybright, a registered dietitian and the founder of Why Food Works and Lauren Brown, trainer and licensed primary sports nutritionist for Balanced Fitness and Health both weighed in to share their top metabolism-boosting tips.
Here’s what they had to say.
Simply put, if you don’t eat enough calories to meet your body’s basic needs on a regular basis, you will lose both fat and muscle mass. And while losing fat may be part of your goal, when it comes to speeding up the metabolism losing muscle mass is not ideal. Plus, as Waybright points out, there are certain instances when under-eating or skipping meals may lead to weight gain. She says that efforts to restrict calories by ignoring appetite can disrupt our hunger hormones and possibly lead to overeating later on. “Studies show that people who are hungry tend to be more likely to reach for high-calorie junk foods instead of making healthy choices, so the initial effort to restrict can backfire,” says Waybright.
The objective of intermittent fasting (IF) is to maintain a “fasted state,” which encourages your body to use stored fat as an energy source rather than the glucose from a recently consumed meal. Those who follow an IF plan eat a normal amount of food every day only within a smaller time frame than what is considered typical. According to Waybright, there’s a good deal of research that supports intermittent fasting as an effective strategy for weight and fat loss. This opposes the concept of “starvation mode,” or the idea that your metabolism will slow down if you leave too much time in between meals. She explained that while there is such a thing as “starvation mode” (where your body might hold onto extra fat if it thinks food won’t be available soon), it won’t be activated by skipping one meal or leaving longer periods between meal times, and that less frequent feedings won’t significantly slow your metabolism.