How to speed up your metabolism and reach your goals

How to speed up your metabolism and reach your goals

16 Mar 2022

There are many factors that hinder people from achieving their fitness goals. Some of these are illnesses that can affect total wellness. Age also comes into play as your energy is usually tied with how old you are. Other factors, which can be changed, are lifestyle choices like diet and exercise. In fact, diet contributes to the reported 67% of overweight Australian adults in the years 2017 to 2018 (1).

When it comes to getting fit, one of the key things to be factored in is how efficient your metabolism is. A healthy metabolism is linked to losing weight, but it needs to be understood properly to know how it works and how you can use it to your advantage.

Let’s take a look at what metabolism is and how to speed up your metabolism to reach your health goals.

What is metabolism?

Before we discuss the steps on how to speed up metabolism, let’s first have an overview of what it is.

The concept of metabolism may be confusing because it’s a complex process.

It’s a chemical process that involves breaking down food to produce energy and repair the body (2). The amount of energy used by the body through metabolism is measured through kilojoules or calories3. In Australia, kilojoules are used instead of calories to measure the energy one gets from food and drinks (4).

The breaking down of carbohydrates, protein, and fats is called catabolism or destructive metabolism (5). This process turns food components into simpler forms to release energy (2). The energy is used to repair tissues in the body and fuel functions such as breathing, digesting food, and others. It’s also responsible for heating the body and enabling muscle movement through contraction (5).

The other type of metabolism is anabolism or constructive metabolism (5). This process maintains tissues, supports cell growth, and stores energy (5). Whilst catabolism breaks down food, anabolism fuses together molecules to create complex molecules for the body to use in different functions.

In cases where the body receives more food than what the body needs, it will mostly be stored as body fat (2). The byproduct of the process will then be removed from the body through the kidneys, lungs, intestine, and skin (5).

How to speed up metabolism

Components of metabolic rate

Your metabolic rate is the total energy needed for all your activities in a day (3). There are several components that make up the metabolic rate: the basal metabolic rate or BMR, thermogenesis, and physical activities. Learning about these will help you learn more about how to speed up metabolism.

Basal metabolic rate is oftentimes confused as the total metabolic rate, but it’s just a portion of it. It relates to the energy needed to keep the body functioning while awake or asleep. It talks about the energy we use for breathing, blood circulation, and other involuntary tasks taking place inside the body. It takes up 50% to 80% of the total energy used for a day (3).

Thermogenesis or food processing relates to activities starting from the digestion, absorption, and transport of food, as well as the storage of nutrients. It uses about 10% of the total kilojoules of the day (3).

The last component is the physical activity done throughout the day (6). What’s good about it is that it can change depending on how much activity you do. In terms of fitness goals, having at least 30 minutes of exercise can be enough to metabolize excess foods or those we don’t need for BMR or thermogenesis. When not utilised,  the body stores these excess foods as fats (3).

What affects metabolism?

Part of understanding how to speed up metabolism, is identifying the factors that affect it.

While food and physical activities are the more obvious factors that influence metabolism, there are other things that contribute to its speed. Factors such as gender, age, and body size can change how much energy is needed for the different components of the metabolic rate.

Men and women differ physically in a couple of ways - their body size as well as how much muscle their body has. These differences affect metabolism. The bigger the body size, the more kilojoules the body needs, especially for basal metabolism rate (7). As men have more muscle mass, it’s generally faster for them to burn energy with their muscle tissue (3).

Most bodily functions, including metabolism, slow down with ageing. As we age, the muscle mass decreases while body fat increases. This slows down energy burning (8). Also, aging often points to decreased movement, which affects how the food is metabolised (8).

Growth is another factor that can change the metabolic rate (3). While a child is growing, he or she will need more energy to support its growth through puberty and adulthood. They also need additional energy to maintain body temperature, which is part of catabolism (5). Growth is also dependent on the genes that dictate the size the body will grow to be as well as how much muscle mass they will have (7).

Existing conditions, such as hormonal issues and metabolic disorders, can likewise affect metabolism. Depending on the health condition, one can gain more weight as the body burns fewer kilojoules9. It can also be the exact opposite. In these cases, the BMR may be influenced by the nervous and hormonal system (3).

Other factors are based on lifestyle choices, such as smoking or the use of drugs, that change how metabolism and metabolic rate works. It’s also possible that two or more factors are impacting a person’s metabolism. It just goes to show how complex this process of metabolism is.

Metabolism and weight loss

There’s more to weight loss than burning kilojoules for energy. As mentioned above, numerous factors, like age, underlying health conditions, diet and exercise come into play.

If you’ve already eliminated these factors as reasons behind your inability to lose weight, you will begin thinking about the speed of your metabolism.

Fast metabolism is when a person needs to take more kilojoules to maintain weight or to function properly (10). Needing more kilojoules would mean eating more food to gain carbohydrates, proteins, and fat; a fast metabolism means you’ll burn these nutrients faster even while at rest (9). It doesn’t equate to weighing less as it’s possible to be overweight but have a fast metabolism (9).

The opposite goes for slow metabolism. It will take fewer calories to keep the body working. Still, food intake should not be taken for granted since there are still functions in the body that need energy, especially if you have physical activities throughout the day. However, it also doesn’t mean you must eat too much since it will be harder for the body to burn calories.

The right mix of physical activity and food consumption would make metabolism work for you and your goals.

Tips on how to speed up metabolism

Metabolism is not a straightforward process where you tweak one part of it and you’ll see results like weight loss instantly. Knowing how constructive and destructive metabolism works, the factors that affect them, and how kilojoules are used, will help you take advantage of the processes on how to speed up metabolism. Below are some of the best ways to kick-start your body into calorie burning.

Good old exercise

Exercise is known to be beneficial for physical and mental health, and has a major and direct impact on metabolism. By having a balance of the right physical activities and food intake, you can better manage your weight. Knowing how much you need to eat based on your physical activities (or vice versa) prevents you from storing fat. It may not be the complete answer to the question of how to speed up metabolism, but it certainly contributes to the beginning of weight management.

Some pursuits that can help with weight management are aerobic activities, such as walking, bicycling, and swimming, as they require more energy (6). Muscle training is likewise important since it not only improves the immunity but also burns more kilojoules by building muscle tissue compared to fatty tissue (6).

To keep the body healthy, at least 30 minutes of exercise per day is the suggested duration of activities, especially for people 65 and up (6). It can also be 2.5 hours of mixed moderate-intensity exercises or 1.25 hours of vigorous-intensity per week (11). Muscle training should also be done twice a week.

Make sure that other factors, such as current health conditions and medication, are considered when planning your routine to get the best benefits and minimise injuries or infections.

Sleep quality

With regular exercise, sleep quality will also improve. But does it affect how to speed up metabolism?

Did you know that sleep helps keep your weight in check? It curbs a person’s appetite and hunger, which prevents you from eating more calories than you can burn (12). Also, with inadequate sleep, people tend to eat more to sustain their state of wakefulness, which can change the equation of energy needed compared to the food consumed (13).

For Australians, the recommended sleep for adults is around 7 to 9 hours14. It’s not only the duration of sleep that is important but also the quality, which relates to how fast a person falls asleep, how deep the sleep is, and how refreshed it feels once he or she wakes up15.

Diet

While exercise provides support when trying to speed up metabolism, it still goes hand in hand with diet. Eating the right food can make it easier for the body to burn it. Eating more lean protein, fruits and vegetables instead of calorie dense, heavily processed foods are some of the changes that can easily be done to enable this (9).

It’s not advisable to eat less just to maintain or lose weight, as it also slows down the metabolism to conserve energy (3). There should be a balance between daily food consumption and physical activity. This also means that meals should be eaten at the right interval as the body will break down muscles for energy if it doesn't have enough food (9). Remember: the loss of muscle mass can also slow down the metabolism (9).

Aside from these tips, there are specific nutrients that help to speed up metabolism. An example of this is L-carnitine which maintains and supports body metabolism and metabolic rate. This amino acid, known for its other names such as carnitine, ACL, and acetyl-L-carnitine, transports fatty acids to the cell’s powerhouse or mitochondria to produce energy (16). Aside from fatty acids, it also plays a key role in carbohydrates and glucose metabolism, which are food components that are broken down during catabolism (16).

There are other nutrients out there that can contribute to different fitness goals including weight management. It’s best to consult with doctors to know more about these as well as exercise routines that are fit for your condition.

How to speed up metabolism

Supplements to support your fitness goals

Discussions on how to speed up metabolism and its relationship with diet can help open up a plethora of options to keep you healthy. It’s also a good way to keep up with your age as it changes the way your body reacts to food and activity. Vitamins can help with your diet efforts in obtaining the nutrients you lack.

With Vitable, you can enjoy high quality supplements through our convenient  vitamin subscription services. They provide a wide range of supplements to support your health needs. Head over to their webpage to know more about how your concerns are aided through specific supplements.

Vitable lets you create your own custom vitamin packs specific to your concerns. These daily vitamin packs are crafted to help you maintain and sustain your health goals by creating a habit through supplements. They also provide one of the best vitamin delivery systems in Australia so that you can start with your fitness goals faster as soon as you receive them in your location.

*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.

References:

  1. “Overweight & obesity”. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Published Jul. 30, 2020 on https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/behaviours-risk-factors/overweight-obesity/overview. Accessed on Jan. 24, 2022
  2. “What is my metabolism and how does it work?”. Queensland Health. Published Feb. 24, 2020 on https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/what-is-my-metabolism-and-how-does-it-work. Accessed on Jan. 24, 2022
  3. “Metabolism”. Better Health Channel. Published Apr. 30, 2020 on https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/metabolism. Accessed on Jan. 24, 2022
  4. “Energy in food (kilojoules and calories)”. Better Health Channel. Published Apr. 23, 2018 on https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/kilojoules-and-calories. Accessed on Jan. 24, 2022
  5. Hirsch, L. “Metabolism”. Nemours KidsHealth. Published Jul. 2019 on https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/metabolism.html. Accessed on Jan. 24, 2022
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  7. “Metabolism”. Health Direct. Published May 2020 on https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/metabolism. Accessed on Jan. 24, 2022
  8. Shimokata, H., and Kuzuya, F. “Nihon Ronen Igakkai zasshi”. Japanese journal of geriatrics. Published Jul. 1993 on https://doi.org/10.3143/geriatrics.30.572. Accessed on Jan. 24, 2022
  9. “Metabolism”. Cleveland Clinic. Published Aug. 30, 2021 on https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21893-metabolism. Accessed on Jan. 24, 2022
  10. “Does metabolism matter in weight loss?”. Harvard Health Publishing. Published Oct. 6, 2021 on https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/does-metabolism-matter-in-weight-loss. Accessed on Jan. 24, 2022
  11. "Physical activity and exercise for Adults (18 to 64 years)". Australian Government: Department of Health. Published on May 10, 2021 on https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/physical-activity-and-exercise/physical-activity-and-exercise-guidelines-for-all-australians/for-adults-18-to-64-years. Accessed on Jan. 24, 2022
  12. Spiegel, K., Tasali, E., Penev, P., and Van Cauter, E. “Brief communication: Sleep curtailment in healthy young men is associated with decreased leptin levels, elevated ghrelin levels, and increased hunger and appetite”. Annals of Internal Medicine. Published Dec. 7, 2007 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15583226/. Accessed on Jan. 24, 2022
  13. Markwald, R., Melanson, E., Smith, M., Higgins, J., et al. "Impact of insufficient sleep on total daily energy expenditure, food intake, and weight gain". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Published Apr. 2, 2013 on https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1216951110. Accessed on Jan. 24, 2022
  14. “Sleep Needs Across The Lifespan”. Sleep Health Foundation. Published Feb. 2015 on https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/files/pdfs/Sleep-Needs-Across-Lifespan.pdf. Accessed on Jan. 24, 2022
  15. Buysse D. "Sleep health: can we define it? Does it matter?". Sleep. Published Jan. 2014 on https://doi.org/10.5665/sleep.3298. Accessed on Jan. 24, 2022
  16. Mendelson, S., “Nutritional Supplements and Metabolic Syndrome”. Metabolic Syndrome and Psychiatric Illness: Interactions, Pathophysiology, Assessment and Treatment. Published May 20, 2008 on https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123742407500127. Accessed on Jan. 24, 2022