How to boost your metabolism

Posted on 31 October 2016

Everybody’s metabolism differs – but there are ways to speed up yours to regulate your energy levels and weight better. A dietician at Mediclinic gives her metabolism-boosting tips.

Struggling to lose weight or maintain energy levels? The answer may lie in regulating your metabolism better. ‘Metabolism is the process by which your body converts the food and drink you consume into energy,’ explains Louise Bembridge-Carter, a registered dietician at the Morningside Mediclinic’s Sports Medicine Centre.

Why do individual metabolisms differ?

‘Metabolism is a natural process and your body has many mechanisms that regulate itself to meet your individual needs,’ says Louise. ‘Basal metabolic rate is the number of kilojoules your body uses to carry out basic functions such as breathing, blood circulation, hormone regulation and so on. The energy requirements for your body’s basic functions tend to remain fairly consistent and are difficult to change.

‘Your basal metabolic rate accounts for about 70% of the kilojoules you burn every day.’ It’s undeniable that some lucky people have faster metabolisms than others.

‘Metabolism is different in everyone and can be determined by certain factors,’ says Louise. These include:

– Body size and composition: People with less body fat tend to have a faster metabolism.

– Gender: Men usually have more muscle and less fat than women, which makes them burn more kilojoules and therefore have a faster metabolism.

– Age: As you age your body fat tends to increase, which can lead to a slower metabolism.

Boosting your metabolism

Despite the factors that influence your metabolism, there are ways to regulate it better regardless of your natural predisposition. Louise shares these tips to help increase your metabolism:

– Step up your physical activity. Include at least 30 minutes of exercise 3-4 times per week and change it up! Don’t do the same repetitive exercises.

– Always have breakfast to keep things running smoothly. If you skip breakfast your body goes into starvation mode, so your metabolism slows down to conserve energy as you are not feeding it anything. 

– Always include protein in your meals. This will help maintain muscle mass.

– Add a small amount of chilli in your diet. Research shows that chillies can boost your body’s heat production, and therefore your metabolism, for a short time.

– Avoid alcohol. As little as two glasses of wine or beer can slow down the fat-burning process by 70%! That’s because your body breaks down the alcohol and uses that for energy, rather than your own fat stores.

– Be consistent about a balanced diet. This helps to regulate your system and your body’s daily functions.

‘Ultimately metabolism comes down to genes, lifestyle, exercise and muscle mass,’ says Louise. ‘The more exercise you do the higher your muscle mass. You will thus be burning more fat, leading to a faster metabolism.’

Busting diet myths

There are many widespread beliefs around regulating your metabolism, yet not all of them are true. While some swear by apple cider vinegar, this does not increase metabolism, says Louise. Diet pills or shakes are also ill advised, she cautions.

‘Our bodies respond well to food, so we should eat good food. Eating well is the foundation of good health, and adding some exercise is the start of a great lifestyle. Diet pills do not teach us the lesson of eating well, so when we stop them and go back to old habits, we often land up in a worse position.’

Get help

If you’re still battling to regulate your metabolism, your best bet is to visit a dietician. ‘When it comes to health, nutrition and fitness, an individual approach is always best,’ says Louise. ‘No two people are alike, so a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work.’

For tailor-made nutrition information and advice, find a dietician near you by visiting

Published in Exercise

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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