Is it really possible to boost your metabolism? Experts weigh in

Experts reveal exactly how to boost your metabolism. (Getty Images)
Experts reveal exactly how to boost your metabolism. (Getty Images)

Our metabolism, whether it’s fast or slow, gets a lot of flack and pressure placed on it.

Do you try as hard as you can to gain weight but the scale never budges? You must have a fast metabolism. Does it feel impossible to lose weight? A slow metabolism might be to blame.

But what exactly is the function of our metabolism? According to Mike Walls, a nutrition expert and director of Fantastic Nutrition, when someone speaks about their metabolism they are referring to the body’s process of converting food into energy and other essential compounds that are needed for our bodies to work.

"Several factors influence the speed of metabolism, including basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is influenced by age, gender, body composition, and genetics," he explains.

"Physical activity level also plays a crucial role, as regular exercise can boost metabolism both during and after activity. Additionally, hormonal factors, such as thyroid function, and dietary habits, including nutrient intake and meal frequency, can impact metabolism. Overall, a combination of genetic, physiological, and lifestyle factors determines an individual's metabolic rate."

Signs of a fast metabolism

Some signs you may have a fast metabolism include:

  • Finding it challenging to gain weight despite eating a lot

  • Having a high body temperature

  • Feeling warm most of the time

  • Having a high energy level

  • High stamina for intense physical activity

  • Feeling hungry frequently

Struggling to gain weight can be a sign of a fast metabolism. (Getty Images)
Struggling to gain weight can be a sign of a fast metabolism. (Getty Images)

Signs of a slow metabolism

The signs you may have a slow metabolism include:

  • Difficulty losing weight despite calorie restriction and exercise

  • Feelings of sluggishness and fatigue

  • Frequent fluctuations in energy levels

  • Can gain weight easily, particularly around the stomach

  • Feeling cold frequently

  • Constipation

  • Dry skin

  • Hair loss

Is it better to have a fast or a slow metabolism?

"The idea that a fast metabolism is universally better than a slow one is a misconception," Dr Veronika Matutyte explains. "While a fast metabolism may allow you to burn more calories at rest, it can also mean feeling hungrier more often, which could lead to overeating. On the other hand, a slower metabolism may result in less calorie burn at rest but could also mean better energy conservation in times of food scarcity."

However, in terms of losing weight, Walls says that having a fast metabolism can give you an advantage as it burns calories at a faster rate.

"A slower metabolism may make weight management more challenging but can also lead to more stable energy levels and potentially longer-lasting satiety after meals," he says.

"Ultimately, the impact of metabolism on health depends on various factors, including overall lifestyle, diet, and physical activity levels, and, therefore, neither a fast nor a slow metabolism is inherently better; it's about finding a balance that supports overall well-being."

Woman drinking water seaside after running at the beach.
Drinking water can help to speed up your metabolism. (Getty Images)

How to boost your metabolism

If you are hoping to boost your metabolism, you’re in luck as Walls says it is possible through various lifestyle changes and habits.

"Regular exercise, particularly strength training, can increase muscle mass, which in turn elevates metabolism, and eating smaller, more frequent meals and ensuring adequate protein intake can also help boost metabolism," he explains.

"Staying hydrated and getting enough quality sleep are also crucial factors in maintaining a healthy metabolic rate."

Foods that can boost your metabolism

In terms of foods that can give your metabolism a boost, Dr Matutyte suggests looking to foods such as green tea and spicy foods.

"Green tea, for example, contains catechins that have been shown to increase energy expenditure. Spicy foods containing capsaicin may also temporarily boost metabolism," she says. "However, the effects of these foods and supplements are typically modest and may not have a significant impact on overall metabolism.

"Metabolism is a complex process influenced by various factors. While it's possible to make lifestyle changes to support a healthy metabolism, the impact of these changes may vary from person to person. It's always best to focus on overall health and well-being rather than solely on boosting metabolism."

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