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4 proven ways to help boost your metabolism

how to increase metabolism

Are you stuck in a weight loss rut? Constantly feeling sluggish and lacking energy? These could be signs of a slow metabolism!

The rate at which your mitochondria, the powerhouses of your cells, burn calories is your metabolic rate—a higher metabolic rate means your mitochondria burn calories faster. People with slow metabolisms burn fewer calories throughout the day, which can make it harder to lose weight and even lead to lower energy levels.

While your metabolic rate naturally slows down as you age, lifestyle factors like inactivity and a poor diet can also contribute to a slow metabolism and poor metabolic health [1]. The good news is that there are steps you can take to boost your metabolic rate and get your mitochondria burning fuel more efficiently! 

Read on to learn more about the benefits of boosting your metabolism, along with 4 expert-backed tips for doing so.

boost metabolism

What are the benefits of boosting your metabolism?

Most people think metabolism only affects weight loss, but it's responsible for so much more than that. A healthy metabolism regulates body temperature, hormone production, immune health, and even brain function. 

However, a staggering number of people – 88% of Americans and 1 in 3 UK adults – are metabolically unhealthy. This means their bodies aren't processing energy efficiently, which can lead to issues like insulin resistance and a higher risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes. 

Improving your metabolic health offers a wide range of benefits that include: 

  • Easier weight loss
  • Increased energy levels
  • Better sleep
  • Improved fitness performance
  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Improved cognitive function

Investing in your metabolic health isn't just about the number on the scale; it's about empowering your entire body to function at its best. 

how to improve metabolismBoost your metabolism

4 Tips to Boost Your Metabolism

So, what advice do our Lumen experts have to help you boost your metabolic rate? From building muscle to fueling your body with the right nutrients, here are our top pointers to help you get started:

Tip #1 - Prioritize a healthy, balanced diet

Nutrition plays a critical role in metabolic health since the food you eat directly affects how your body uses glucose, its primary fuel source [2]. After food is converted into glucose, your body releases the hormone insulin into the bloodstream, which ushers glucose into your cells to be used for energy.

But when you consistently consume large amounts of refined carbohydrates and sugars, your blood sugar levels can remain elevated over time, leading to insulin resistance. If your cells can't effectively absorb glucose, it will impair energy production and make it harder for your mitochondria to use glucose for energy when needed. As a result, you’ll be more likely to experience fatigue, cravings, and even weight gain. 

how to boost your metabolism

So, what should you include in a metabolically healthy diet? Start with these whole foods to boost your metabolism:

  • Complex carbohydrates like whole grains and fruits
  • Non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, and bell peppers
  • Lean protein sources like chicken, fish, legumes, and tofu
  • Healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil

These foods provide sustained energy and stabilize blood sugar levels, promoting metabolic flexibility and insulin sensitivity.

boosting metabolism

Tip #2 - Build up your muscle mass

A metabolically balanced diet is key to sustainable weight loss, but it's only half the battle. Incorporating strength training and cardio exercise into your lifestyle is just as important for increasing your metabolic rate

Muscle is metabolically active tissue, and the more muscle you have, the more efficiently your body burns calories—even when relaxing [3]. This creates a powerful afterburn effect, helping you burn more calories throughout the day. 

Muscles are packed with mitochondria, so the more muscle you gain, the more mitochondria you’ll have. If you don’t train your muscles and feed them with protein, they break down, taking the mitochondria with them. With less muscle and fewer mitochondria working together, fat burn during rest and low activity is a challenge. ways to boost metabolism

Interestingly, research suggests that you don’t have to set aside much time to exercise. A well-conducted study [4] recommended that 30-minute sessions of speedy walking or a similar activity five times a week are enough to lower the risk of many diseases. 

To get started, try one or more of the following types of exercise and create a routine that works for you:

  • Brisk walking
  • Light jogging
  • Weight lifting
  • HIIT classes
  • Yoga
  • Swimming laps
  • Cycling

ways to increase metabolism

Tip #3 - Improve your sleep habits

Did you know that disruptions to your circadian rhythm, the body's internal clock that governs sleep-wake cycles, can negatively affect your metabolism? That’s because poor sleep impacts your mitochondria’s time for maintenance, repair, and reproduction so they can produce the energy you need.

When you don't get enough sleep, hormones that regulate metabolism and appetite can also get thrown out of whack. This can make it harder to lose weight, leave you feeling hungrier throughout the day, and even increase your risk of metabolic syndrome [5].

foods that improve metabolism

Luckily, there are simple ways to promote healthy sleep habits and support a healthy circadian rhythm. Our Lumen experts recommend these tips:

    • Establish a consistent sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, even on weekends. 
    • Power down before bed: Turn off screens like phones and laptops at least an hour before bedtime. 
    • Avoid eating large or heavy meals close to bedtime: Give your body at least 2 hours to digest dinner before hitting the hay.
    • Embrace sleep-promoting foods: To ease into sleep, consider incorporating calming bedtime snacks like oatmeal, bananas, or chamomile tea.

Tip #4 - Reduce your stress levels

Chronic stress is often a hidden culprit behind weight gain and a slow metabolism. When you're under stress, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is vital in the fight-or-flight response, but chronically elevated levels can disrupt your metabolic health [6] because they overwork the mitochondria, damage their membranes, and reduce their lifespan. Chronic stress also makes your mitochondria over-dependent on carbs for fuel. Over time, they forget how to burn fat.

“Our bodies can handle stress well,” explains Lumen metabolic health coach Mia Dige, “but only in small doses. Once it becomes more persistent, it can actually wreak havoc on our health.” She explains that prolonged stress can contribute to weight gain, poorer nutrition choices, and being less active.

The good news is there are ways to manage stress and keep cortisol levels in check. Here are some tips from Lumen experts:

    • Incorporate stress-relieving activities: Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises can help calm your mind and body.
    • Prioritize sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate stress and further disrupt your metabolism.
    • Nourish your body with healthy foods: Choose whole grains, fruits, and vegetables over sugary treats. These foods provide sustained energy and support a healthy stress response.
    • Stay hydrated: Dehydration can contribute to stress and fatigue. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

boost your metabolism

Create new habits and track your progress

The first challenge when starting a new journey and making big lifestyle changes like the ones we’ve outlined is shifting your mindset. When you have a clear goal, it’s easier to make the changes to support it.

“Building sustainable habits around exercise, mindfulness, proper nutrition, and healthy sleep habits can help you reach your wellness goals over time,” shares Mia.

To stay on track, dedicate time to checking in on your progress and getting consistent feedback on what’s working for you. Mia adds, “Setting realistic goals and committing to a plan focused on getting closer to your outcomes will make it easier to create new habits and get into a lifestyle shift mindset.” 

how to increase your metabolism

Here are a few healthy habits you can implement: 

  • Reorganize your pantry to make healthy foods available
  • Create space in your home to exercise and invite an accountability partner to join you
  • Try meditation or breathwork once per day to help reduce your stress levels
  • Practice mindful eating and pay attention to your body’s cues to avoid overeating

ways to improve metabolism

Seeing tangible results such as weight loss can be a major motivator when working to increase your metabolic rate. However, instead of solely focusing on the scale, consider following your progress using a metabolism tracker to figure out how your body uses fats and carbs for fuel.

By taking regular measurements and logging your sleep, meals, and how you feel upon waking, you can better understand your body and what works best for you.

This data can help you identify patterns and adjust your diet and routine to optimize your metabolism. Over time, these small, consistent changes can significantly improve your metabolic health.

how to improve your metabolism

Here are some other ways to track your progress:

  • Assess how you feel when you wake up and keep a journal
  • Remember your motivation and what you’re working towards
  • Find inspiration in others
  • Strive for progress, not perfection

how to increase metabolism fast

Increase your metabolic rate

Insights into how your body uses energy will empower you to make informed choices about your diet and lifestyle so you can begin to experience increased energy levels, improved weight management, and a healthier you. 

Understanding your metabolism is the first step to optimizing it, and we hope these tips help you on your journey to a metabolically healthy lifestyle


[1] Park, Y. S., Kang, S. H., Jang, S.-I., & Park, E.-C. (2022). Association between lifestyle factors and the risk of metabolic syndrome in the South Korea. Scientific Reports, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-17361-2  

[2] Li, B., Tang, X., & Le, G. (2023). Dietary habits and metabolic health. Nutrients, 15(18), 3975. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15183975   

[3] McPherron, A. C., Guo, T., Bond, N. D., & Gavrilova, O. (2013). Increasing muscle mass to improve metabolism. Adipocyte, 2(2), 92–98. https://doi.org/10.4161/adip.22500  

[4] Mielke, G. I., Menezes, A. M., Da Silva, B. G., Ekelund, U., Crochemore-Silva, I., Wehrmesiter, F. C., Gonçalves, H., & Brown, W. J. (2021). Associations between device-measured physical activity and cardiometabolic health in the transition to early adulthood. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 53(10), 2076–2085. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0000000000002696  

[5] Kim, C. E., Shin, S., Lee, H.-W., Lim, J., Lee, J., Shin, A., & Kang, D. (2018). Association between sleep duration and metabolic syndrome: A cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-5557-8   

[6] Garcez, A., Leite, H. M., Weiderpass, E., Paniz, V. M., Watte, G., Canuto, R., & Olinto, M. T. (2018). Basal cortisol levels and metabolic syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 95, 50–62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.05.023  

Reviewed by Brea Lofton, RD Nutritionist at Lumen - by Lumen Editorial Desk

Brea has a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition & a Master’s degree in Nutrition & Food from Texas Women’s University. She has been a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for 4 years thus far. She is very passionate about uplifting others by empowering them with information regarding well-rounded nutritional intake and lifestyle practices and how they can impact overall health & wellness. She is currently a Nutritionist in the Customer Experience department at Lumen the world’s first metabolic tracking device through the breath. She has experience in a variety of nutrition-related matters, including nutrition counseling and developing community nutritional initiatives.