Girl in workout gear doing lunges

We all know someone who seems to eat exactly what they want and never put on weight. There’s nothing more frustrating, especially when you’re constantly watching what you snack on. It could come down to one simple factor – they have a fast metabolism. It’s the system ingrained in our bodies that keeps everything going like clockwork and manages to burn calories without even trying.

How to boost your metabolism

There’s no quick fix for boosting your metabolism. Superdrug Nutritionist, Charlotte Stirling-Reed, told us “Exercising and generally staying active is the best way to help increase the amount of energy we expend day-to-day and therefore increase our metabolic rate”. But don’t let this reality put you off, a few small changes could make a big difference.

Girl in workout gear doing lunges

Metabolism - what is it?

Metabolism is the word that describes all the chemical processes that happen inside your body to keep it functioning. The body needs fuel (or food) to keep everything ticking over, and the more fuel it needs, the faster the metabolism is. It’s often called your basal metabolic rate or BMR for short.

 

Do you have a slow or fast metabolism?

It’s not that easy to tell how slow or fast your BMR is. It all comes down to age, weight, gender and muscle mass. Generally speaking, the more muscle you have the faster your metabolism will be, because muscle cells need more energy to look after than fat cells. That’s why muscly people tend to be able to eat a lot of calories without putting on fat, but it could also be because they are burning off what they eat by working hard in the gym.

 

So how can you speed up your metabolism?

Eating breakfast

It’s often been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and your metabolism might agree. Having a bite to eat in the morning gets your thermogenesis process working (that’s the one where your body burns calories to keep warm). In theory, eating first thing will get your metabolism working, though it’s unclear whether it will speed it up.

 

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Get active

Being active is said to be the key to boosting your metabolism because your body needs to use energy to repair your muscles. If you need some exercise inspiration, routines could include:

  • Doing a HIIT workout online
  • Walking or cycling to work
  • Taking the stairs rather than the lift
  • Doing an aerobics class
  • Going swimming

Even if it doesn’t speed up your metabolism, exercise will burn those calories and help you lose weight.

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Lifting at the gym

Given that bigger muscles can equal a faster metabolism (as they use more calories to maintain), building them up could make a difference. Try lifting weights, whether they are small hand weights or the big machines in the gym. You’ll most likely find that you get a bit toned up in the process.

Get a good nights sleep

Sleep has been increasingly under the spotlight as the key to staying fit and healthy. A journal named Obesity, researched by Andrea Spaeth, documented that the body compensates for a lack of sleep by taking it easy the next day to converse energy, slowing down the metabolism. Here’s your excuse to leave that party early, or if you struggle to get to sleep, you might want to try some techniques to help you relax.

 

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Spicy food, caffeine and protein

The thinking behind some foods, like green tea, chillies and meat, being wonders for your metabolism is because your body has to work hard to break them down. Caffeine is also said to speed everything up in your body – including your metabolism. The problem is that there is little evidence to suggest they make a noticeable difference, as Charlotte sums up, “actually the idea of boosting your metabolism with food is a bit of a myth… no foods will magically speed up your metabolism”. However, some foods are thought to be better for helping you to lose weight.

 

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A final thought about metabolism

There’s no quick fix to boosting a metabolism or losing weight. Charlotte encourages everyone to look at the bigger picture. She says, “rather than focusing on weight loss as an outcome, why not focus on how you feel – satisfied after a meal, healthier and more energetic and having a healthier relationship with food and your own body”. Health is about more than just your weight, so try to concentrate on what makes you feel good.