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4 Ways to Speed Up a “Slow” Metabolism

I’m in a conversation with someone the other day who is trying to lose weight.

She admittedly wanted to lose just 15 lbs, so she was clearly not obese…but she’s struggled with that same 15 lbs for years.

Lose 10.  Gain 8. 

Lose that same 8.  Gain 12. 

And from what she said, this pattern has gone on since she had her first daughter, 10 years ago.

She was concerned that as she continued to get older, her metabolism would slow …

…and wanted to know how she can speed up a seemingly slow metabolism.

We hear this regularly — my metabolism is slooooooow, I eat virtually NOTHING all day, yet can’t lose a pound!

So how do you speed up a "slow" metabolism?

One, keep in mind that the larger a person is, with muscle OR fat, the higher their metabolism.  That being said, muscle does increase metabolism more than fat, but not by much. 

  1. Build muscle.  But, don’t get too excited about this — for every 1 lb of muscle, research shows there’s just about a 9 calorie/day increase in metabolism — that’s not much.  But that shouldn’t discourage you; the benefit comes from shaping those muscles as you’re losing fat through changing your diet.  Of course it all adds up, though, so while 1 lb of muscle doesn’t offer a huge calorie benefit, adding on more muscle than that does.  And there are a million other benefits to building muscle as well, so keep training!
  2. The other way to speed metabolism is to eat.  More.  When you eat, your metabolism increases to digest and use the food.  Particularly when you have some protein with each meal.  Protein does more to boost metabolism than either carbs or fat.  So make sure each meal includes a little protein — fish, eggs, chicken, turkey, nuts, beans, etc. 
  3. Eat breakfast.  Simple and it stokes your metabolism in the AM.  Combine this one with #2 (including protein) and you’ve got a win win.  In fact, there’s some solid data suggesting eating eggs in the morning boosts weight loss above and beyond choosing a bagel. 
  4. Increase the intensity of your workouts.  Long, slow cardio sessions do little to nothing when the workout is done.  On the other hand, shorter, harder intensity exercise bouts cause a much longer increase in metabolism, even hours after your workout is over!  In fact, a study out just this week showed a 14+ hour increase in metabolism after a high intensity bout of exercise.  This boost burned an additional 190 calories!  Now that will add up.  There’s a reason sprinters are in such fantastic shape!  They train properly!

There you have it — 4 simple strategies to boost a lagging metabolism!

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8 Responses to 4 Ways to Speed Up a “Slow” Metabolism

  1. Tracy June 24, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    Great article, Thanks.

  2. Mike June 24, 2010 at 2:39 pm #

    For some people I still think they need to start with steady state cardio and gradually move towards interval training. I beleive , but I could be wrong, you can still build muscle with resistance training followed by steady state cardio. The cardio I refer to is only twenty to twenty -five minutes max.

    Also people like myself who have faught high blood pressure and are over the age of forty must be careful with any high intensity exercise. The last thing I need is venous pooling! Hence the progression form steady state to to interval training.

    • Chris and Kara Mohr June 24, 2010 at 7:01 pm #

      For sure — of course, “intervals” mean different things. Faster paced walking spaced with slower walking is an interval for some, whereas hill sprints is better for others. Always work at your own pace!

  3. James February 18, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    I am a little surprised by the comment “muscle does increase metabolism more than fat, but not by much”. I think of muscles as ‘active’ tissue over fat which is not ‘active’ tissue. This would make me think that a large person with mostly fat would have a lower metabolism over a smaller person with mostly muscle. Am I way off on this? Just curious.

    • Chris and Kara Mohr February 18, 2011 at 11:18 am #

      It was surprising to me, too, when I first read this research … but every 1 lb of muscle burns just 9 calories extra per day. Not to say there aren’t a million other benefits that muscle has over fat. From a calorie burning perspective, however, it’s not that impressive. The larger the person, muscle or fat, the higher their metabolism. Body mass as a whole plays a big role in metabolism.

  4. Jim from Functional Fitness Facts February 20, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    The number one way that I have increased my metabolism is through weight lifting. While I do run sprints on a somewhat regular basis, the primary reason why I have a higher metabolism at 54 years old than when I was a teenager is because of weight lifting. I lift pretty heavy weights, my workouts are short and intense, and I stick mainly to compound exercises like bench presses and rows.

  5. james October 13, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    I have been trying to find new ways to increase my metabolism. This article has really helped alot. It really compliments new recipes that I have found using Metabolic Cooking.

  6. Lissa February 13, 2012 at 9:32 am #


    I am about five five tall, am a 20-year-old female and weigh about 136.4 lbs.
    I want to lose just a bit more weight, especially belly fat, to feel comfortable with
    my body.
    For the last 1.5 month, I have been swimming once a week (1 hour), and do 30 minutes of pilates followed by 30 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training twice a week.
    Also, I try to eat healthy; so I eat fruit, whole-grain products, no cookies, crisps and such and try to choose healthy dinners as well. Note; I NEVER eat fastfood, and prepare all the meals myself (or my boyfriend prepares them). I also drink a lot of tea, without sugar or milk and use no supplements for sugar either. Usually, my daily calorie-intake is somewhere between 1100 and 1600 calories.
    My only sin is that in the weekends, I allow myself some ‘bad’ things like chocolate, cookies, white bread, butter and such. Even so, I try not to over indulge and my calorie-intake in the weekend has not exceeded 2100.

    Now here’s the problem; I do not seem to lose any weight! Perhaps I am losing fat and gaining muscle (or so I hope). But up till now, I have not lost very much weight at all and seem to be stuck at about 136 lbs.
    I see people around me who eat so much more, and more unhealthy stuff, and if they stop eating, the weight flies off! (granted, some have more fat, so more to lose, but still).
    Also, I never skip breakfast and during the week make sure I eat regularly and snack only on fruit.

    Does anyone have some tips for me to reach my goals?
    Because like this, I get a bit discouraged after all my efforts…

    I do not want to start taking pills or use diet-products, because I prefer to lose weight as naturally as possible. Extra vitamins and such are fine, though.

    Great thanks!


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