July 29, 2021
How To Naturally Boost Metabolism

Include a Source of Protein with Every Meal

When you eat, the process of digestion, absorption, and nutrient utilization increases your metabolism for a few hours. This is referred to as the Thermic Effect of Food or TEF. TEF can account for up to 10% of your total daily calorie expenditure.

Protein causes the largest rise in the thermic effect of food (TEF). It can increase your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbohydrates and 0-3% for dietary fat.

Pairing a protein with a complex (high fiber) carbohydrate and a healthy source of fat has also been shown to help you feel fuller on fewer calories which helps to prevent overeating.

Good protein sources are not limited to animal products like meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy. Below is a list of less common high-protein foods to consider.

FoodServing SizeProtein
Hempseed1 ounce11 grams
Dried pumpkin seed1 ounce9 grams
Lentils1/2 cup9 grams
Tofu3 ounces9 grams
Green peas1/2 cup9 grams
Chickpeas & other bean varieties1/2 cup 6-9 grams
Edamame1/2 cup 8.5 grams
Peanut butter2 tbsp8 grams
Hulled sunflower seeds1 ounce8 grams
Nutrional yeast1/4 cup8 grams
Wild rice1/4 cup7 grams
Chia seeds2 tbsp6 grams
Quinoa1/4 cup6 grams
Oats1/2 cup6 grams
Peanuts & other nut varieties1/4 cup4-7 grams

Drink Plenty of Water

Drink Water

You may have heard the recommendation to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. The amount of water a person needs varies depending on the environment, activity levels, personal health, and diet. The general recommendation from The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) a day for females and 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) a day for males.

Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. One study showed that drinking 17 ounces of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour. The calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body burns more energy to heat it up to body temperature.

Many people confuse thirst for hunger. Drinking plenty of water can also help to avoid overeating.

Get a Good Night of Rest

The National Sleep Foundation guidelines advise that healthy adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

There is growing evidence that sleep loss and sleep disorders have a significant impact on metabolism. Sleep deprivation can alter glucose metabolism and the hormones involved in regulating metabolism specifically decreased leptin (tells your brain that you are full or satisfied) and increased ghrelin (cues your brain that you are hungry). 

Good Night Sleep

Healthy Sleep Tips

  • Create a sleep-inducing bedroom by making your bedroom a place of comfort and relaxation. Choose quality bedding, avoid light disruption and set the thermostat to a comfortably cool temp between 65-68 degrees.  
  • Optimize your sleep schedule. Set a fixed wake up time and budget time for sleep. If your sleep schedule needs adjusting, do this gradually with a maximum difference of 1-2 hours per night.
  • Have a bedtime routine. Take 30 minutes to wind down by lowering the lights and disconnecting from devices.
  • Promote good sleep by practicing healthy habits during the day. Include intentional exercise, monitor caffeine intake, avoid eating 1-2 hours before bed, be mindful of alcohol intake and don’t smoke.

Stand Up More

Long periods of sitting burn fewer calories and may even lead to weight gain over time. One study found that compared to sitting, ½ a day of standing up at work can burn an extra 174 calories. If a standing desk is not an option, try to avoid sitting for long periods of time throughout the day. Get up and move for 5 minutes every 30 minutes or 10 minutes every hour. Another great tip is to take a walk around the block on a 10-minute break and/or at lunch.

Maximize Your Exercise Routine through HIIT & Strength Training


By incorporating high-intensity interval training or HIIT into your fitness routine, you can cut down on the time you spend exercising while still getting a quality workout.

HIIT workouts involve very intense bursts of activity, usually over a short period of time like 10-15 minutes. Studies have shown that shorter HIIT style workouts may even burn more calories than longer periods of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise because they increase the metabolic rate well after the workout has finished.

High-intensity exercise creates oxygen “debt” that the body must “repay.” This is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC. In order for the body to recover from a HIIT workout, it consumes a higher amount of O2 which burns additional calories. This effect can last up to 24-36 hours after the workout was complete.

Sample High-Intensity Interval Training Workout

10 rounds

  • 5 Burpees or Squat Thrusts
  • 10 Jump Squats or Air Squats
  • 15 Sit Ups or Crunches

It’s no secret that lean muscle mass is more metabolically active than body fat. For this reason, building muscle can help increase metabolism so that your body burns more calories throughout the day, even at rest. As our bodies age, we naturally lose muscle mass which in turn slows our metabolism. We can combat this by including regular strength training in our exercise routine at least 2x/week.

The most effective strength training routines work for every major muscle group at least once every 7 days and allow for at least 48 hours rest between working the same muscle group again. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy things, just be sure you do so safely.

An effective strength training workout should include 2-4 sets of 8-12 reps of 8-10 different exercises. If you’re not sure how much weight to use, try choosing a weight that starts to become difficult to lift by the 8th or 9th rep. If you could keep going past the 12th rep, increase the weight by 5-10 lbs, and if you can’t make it past the 4th or 5th rep, decrease weight until it feels right.  

Alison Fenske, RD

By Alison Fenske, RD

Registered Dietitian at CHAS Health
Denny Murphy Clinic