Boost Your Metabolism & Lose Weight?
Metabolic rate is technically assessed in a lab using a metabolic cart which
measures how much oxygen your body can take in and use, and how much carbon
dioxide you exhale. While fruits and vegetables wont’ technically raise your
metabolic rate, they will “plug the holes” in your metabolism by
providing valuable nutrients without which your metabolism won’t function
for example, is needed for over 400 biochemical reactions. The
B vitamins are right up there too.)
Same thing with water. Drinking more won’t necessarily raise the needle on the
machine, but drinking less will slow you down. We already know that even
2 % less than optimal hydration will affect athletic performance negatively.
Since water is needed for every metabolic process in every cell in the body, the
idea that that dehydration will prevent your metabolism from operating at it’s
most efficient passes the smell test with flying colours.
It's the same thing with sleep. Once again, sleeping well- deeply and restfully-
won’t necessarily raise the metabolic needle. But it will bring down
cortisol (a stress hormone which raises abdominal fat) and increase
If you’re not sleeping well- and most of us aren’t- it’s like carrying a fifty
pound weight in that proverbial rowboat.
Protein has been shown to boost thermogenesis (which is the creation of
heat in the body and the resultant burning of calories). High protein diets
“stimulate” or raise the metabolism, sometimes by as much as 100 percent
according to one study on healthy women.
Green tea also does it (and folks who drink about 5 cups a day seem to have
an easier time losing and maintaining weight).
And coffee- which is not always the villain everyone thinks it is- can briefly
boost metabolism and increase the feeling of energy and alertness, so if you use
it before a workout you might run a little faster and longer, work a little
harder, lift a little heavier and thus burn more calories. (If you use it just
to stay awake at your desk, though, it’s not going to do any of those things.)
Then of course there’s exercise. Through the arcane physiology of oxygen debt
and repayment, we actually have an increased metabolism after aerobic exercise
for a bit of time, though you get more of a permanent increase in
metabolic rate-- which continues even while you're watching TV or at rest-- from
lifting weights, since muscle burns far more calories than fat.
Much has been made of the studies purporting to show that calcium (and
specifically dairy) raises metabolism. Fuggedaboutit. Nearly every one of those
studies was funded by the dairy industry and done by one researcher, Michael
Zemel. Out of 35 studies investigating the link, 31 showed no effect.
But here’s the kernel of truth in that dairy industry propaganda- a
deficiency of calcium will slow down weight loss (and metabolism).
The moral of the story: don’t be deficient (in calcium, or any other nutrient).
It’s a complete myth that extra calcium beyond your basic needs- nor extra milk,
which you probably don’t need at all- will “boost” your metabolism and help you
Bottom line: If you want to boost your metabolism, you’re probably wanting to
lose body fat. The answer may not be in whipping your metabolism to go faster
with magical foods and artificial stimulants, but, rather, to dropping some of
your excess baggage that may be slowing that metabolism down.
And you can begin to do that right now with a diet higher in protein, low in
sugar, and high in nutrients.
Bowden, PhD, CNS is the author of
"the Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth as well as
two other best selling books. A board certified nutritionist
with a Masters degree in psychology, he is a featured health
writer on America Online and was the Weight Loss Coach for
iVillage.com for ten years. A popular and dynamic speaker,
he has been contributed material to over 50 national
publications and appeared on CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, CNN
and MSNBC as a nutrition, weight loss and health expert. Dr.
Bowden is Self-Growth's Official Guide for Nutrition. For
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visit him at