Every year, Americans buy millions of protein shakes, vitamin supplements, and energy bars that claim to “boost metabolism” and lead to faster weight loss. But do these products really work? The short answer is No. And now for the more complete answer…
Metabolism is the way the body uses energy for it’s everyday functions. About 75% of the calories you eat go to basic body functions like breathing, heart beat, cell growth, etc. Digesting & absorbing food accounts for another ~10%, with the remaining ~15% being reserved for physical activity you choose to do, be that cleaning the house, walking around, and/or daily exercise.
So, how can you boost your metabolism to lose weight? These are the only scientifically proven ways:
- Exercise. People who exercise regularly burn more calories and have more muscle mass (which leads to even more calorie-burning) than those who are less active. Find an activity you like (perhaps hiking on a scenic trail like the one above?) and schedule it into your daily routine.
- Do strength training 2-3 times/week. This will increase your lean muscle mass and the rate at which your body burns calories. Strength training becomes even more important as you age because it slows muscle loss, which helps boost metabolism.
- Eat regular meals. This doesn’t mean you have to eat “6 small meals per day,” but do make sure you’re eating at least every 4-5 hours (except when sleeping). Doing so will keep your metabolism and blood sugar steady, so you have plenty of energy. Eating regularly also increases the chances that you’ll make good food choices and be less prone to overeating (because you won’t be completely starving when you sit down for a meal).
- Eat breakfast. You don’t have to eat a big meal the moment you wake up, but have something within an hour, to wake up your metabolism after a night’s sleep. Eating breakfast will give you energy and help prevent overeating later in the day.
Moral of the story: Next time you’re tempted to buy something whose package says “proven to speed up metabolism,” just remember the old saying: If it sounds too good to be true, it is!