What Is Metabolism?
In a nutshell, metabolism is the process of the body turning our food and drink into energy. Everyone has a metabolism, and it is necessary for the body to function properly.
How Does it Work?
Your metabolism is always on the go, even when you’re resting. It consistently gives your body energy for basic body functions like:
- Blood circulation
- Cell growth and repair
- Managing hormone levels
- Body temperature regulation
If you have a naturally slow metabolism, you burn less calories and more calories will be stored as fat in the body.
On the flip side, if you have a fast metabolism, you burn calories at a faster rate which prevents additional calories from being stored as fat.
Seems simple, right? Well actually, there are many things that influence a person’s metabolism. Your “basal metabolic rate” (BMR), or the number of calories your body uses at rest, is based on a combination of factors like your muscle mass, body size and composition, sex, and age.3
So, I Want a Fast Metabolism, Right?
If losing weight is your goal, a faster metabolism won’t necessarily get you there. Studies have shown that people with overweight and obesity often have fast metabolisms because their bodies need more energy to keep up with basic body functions.2
What Can I Eat to Make My Metabolism Speed Up?
There is no “one size fits all” model or diet that will automatically speed up your metabolism and cause you to burn more calories at a faster rate. You may want to place the blame on your diet for your slow metabolism, but that’s not the only culprit. Metabolism isn’t only dependent on the specific foods you eat, but also the quantity of calories consumed.
Turns out, the speed of your metabolism is determined mostly by your genes, which of course is something that none of us can actively change.1 I’m sorry to break it to you, but there are no foods that are proven to speed up your metabolism.
Wait, I Saw A Website With Foods That Should Boost My Metabolism?
There are many blog articles and websites that say there are certain foods that have “metabolism-boosting powers” or they will have a long list of “metabolic superfoods,” however these sites are not backed by science.
The foods that are recommended are typically rich in fiber and/or protein, which are designed to make you feel fuller for longer periods of time and ultimately aid in weight loss. The foods themselves are not “speeding up metabolism,” rather they are keeping you feeling full so you eat less calories throughout the day. Calorie restriction, among several other factors, is associated with weight loss.
No Magic Pill
Dietary supplements may be enticing as a “quick and easy fix” to improving your metabolism. Here’s a fun fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t test dietary supplements for safety OR efficacy.2 Products with outlandish claims like “boosts metabolism” or “increases your body’s metabolism” will most likely do more harm than good.
So, What Should I Eat?
Consume a balanced diet rich in a variety of food groups! Eat the rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables. Make sure to eat enough lean protein, carbohydrates, and fats.2 Keep in mind that foods high in fiber will keep you feeling full for longer periods throughout the day!
DON’T SKIP MEALS! Your metabolism is smart and will start to use less calories for body functions. Restricting calories too much will break down your muscle in order to make more energy. Losing muscle mass means slower metabolism.2
If you are interested in losing weight, talk to a Registered Dietitian to explore healthy weight loss options.
- “The Truth about Metabolism.” Harvard Health, 30 Mar. 2021, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-metabolism.
- “Can You Boost Your Metabolism?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 8 Oct. 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/metabolism/art-20046508#:~:text=Metabolism%3A%20Converting%20food%20into%20energy,the%20energy%20the%20body%20needs.
- “Metabolism: What It Is, How It Works and Disorders.” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21893-metabolism.