Metabolism. What is it and how can you speed it up?

By now, you’ve probably heard a number of people talk about their metabolism and how it’s either slow (because they feel their age has really impacted) or maybe you have the friend that feels they have a fast metabolism and they can eat whatever they want.  Either way, for our purposes we are going to define metabolism as: determines how quickly and efficiently your body burns calories and how much you can eat in a day and not put on weight. Now, the question is how do you make you make your body a more efficient calorie-burning machine?  There are 3 parts we’re going to discuss.

We all have a resting metabolic rate (RMR).  This is the largest piece of the metabolism puzzle accounting for 60-75% of our metabolism.  It’s the energy your organs use to stay functional throughout the day. That’s right. Even when you’re sitting doing nothing, your body is still burning calories.  The more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn. The more muscle mass you have the more calories you’ll burn. We’ll get into this in a bit.

Active metabolism is the next piece and is approximately 10-15% of the total metabolic burn.  This dictates energy you use when walking, running, exercising, etc.… This particular piece is “easy” to control Stand vs. sit and you’ll burn more. Run vs.walk. Take the stair vs. the elevator and so on. I’m not saying these choices are always easy or practical, but they are simple.

Diet induced thermogenesis is the last piece.  This is what your body uses to digest foods and is 8-12%.  Studies have shown that spicy foods, green tea and protein can speed up the metabolism 1% for an hour.  While that may not seem like a lot, remember every little bit helps and the compound effect of adding these types of foods can help you as your metabolism decreases with age.

As mentioned earlier, the more muscle you have the more calories you’ll burn.  One lb. of muscle can burn 7-10 calories a day while one lb. of fat only burns 2-3 calories/day.  So, grab some weights and start lifting. If you really want to get a burn, incorporate supersets or giant sets (go from one exercise to another and even add one more with no rest).  Keep in mind when “dieting’ and “diet” that restricts calories will slow down your metabolism. This is something I see quite often with clients of mine that are already “fit” and don’t have much weight to lose.  Many of them aren’t eating enough and their body starts to store fat and their metabolism slows down. We often times need to get them to eat more and lift some weights to combat their previously low calorie way of eating.

As you can see, your metabolism is complex.  That being said, there are simple ways to speed it up.  Move more, add a little spice, protein and/or green tea.  Lift weights and don’t cut your calories too low (if at all).

Scott Keppel is the owner of Scott’s Training Systems, a world-class coaching facility in Chandler, Arizona. He is a nationally certified trainer through NASM and ISSA. His mission is to empower women of all ages and fitness levels. For more information head to or check him out on Instagram at @stsnation.

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