Your metabolism refers to all the chemical reactions that occur within your body that keep you alive. It involves the breakdown of food into energy that the body needs to survive. It is the energy required to breathe, digest food, circulate blood, move, repair tissues and cells and for all organs to function. 

Our basal or resting metabolic rate is the number of calories we burn at rest. If your goal is weight loss or weight management, you should strive to have the highest basal metabolic rate possible. As we age, our metabolism tends to drop which results in creeping weight gain so, an understanding of how to impact metabolism in a positive direction is critical to overall health.

Here are 5 effective ways to increase your metabolism:

Lift Heavy Things

Building muscle can help to increase your metabolism because muscle is more metabolically active tissue than fat. When you hold more muscle on your body, you burn more calories throughout the day, even at rest.

Strive for about 10-15 compound, multi-joint exercises and try for two to three sets of 8-12 reps, two to three times per week. You can use machines, free weights, body weight exercises or any type of resistance training tool.

The key is to fatigue the muscles by the end of each set.

Do a High Intensity Workout

Once your body can tolerate high intensity exercise, incorporate two to three of these types of workouts per week. Studies show that your metabolism is raised significantly longer post workout after these types of high intensity sessions.

It is referred to as EPOC (Excess Post Oxygen Consumption) and it is elevated to a higher degree after HIT. One approach to starting with this type of training is to incorporate brief, 30 second, high intensity intervals throughout your workout session. Once you’ve sufficiently recovered, do another 30-second-high intensity bout and continue throughout the workout. 

Eat Protein and Veggies

It’s important to understand how eating raises your metabolism and what happens when you severely restrict caloric intake. It’s important to understand that when you eat, your metabolism increases. This process is referred to as the Thermogenic Effect of Food (TEF). Your body burns additional calories in order to digest, absorb and transport the nutrients in your food. Some foods require more energy to breakdown such as protein and some fibrous vegetables like celery, cauliflower, asparagus and broccoli. If you would like to benefit from an increase in TEF from the foods you eat, increase your intake of protein and cruciferous vegetables. In contrast, you should avoid severely restricting food intake and starving yourself which will lower your metabolism. 

Do More NEAT

NEAT refers to Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis and refers to additional calories we expend when we opt to be less sedentary as we go throughout our day. When you are sedentary, ask yourself how you can raise your metabolism, even just the slightest bit. So stand instead of sit. Do heel raises while you’re sitting. Take the stairs versus the elevator. Park in the furthest parking stall. Do 10 squats or desk pushups on the hour. Just move more throughout the day and you won’t have to spend hours in the gym. 

Don’t Diet

Severely restricting your caloric and nutrient intake will lower your metabolism. Strive for a maximum 500 caloric deficit per day if you are trying to lose weight. This will assure you achieve your goals without a negative impact to your metabolism and muscle mass.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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