It’s pretty common knowledge that if you have a faster metabolism - meaning you burn more calories while at rest - you will lose more weight. What most people don’t know is that there are many …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, Sports Nutritionist, Master Life Coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind. So you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster, and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there, and welcome to episode 86 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, the weight loss coach for runners. And today, I’ve got seven surprising ways to increase your metabolism. I think it’s pretty common knowledge that if you have a faster metabolism, meaning you burn more calories, while at rest, you will lose more weight.
What most people don’t know is that there are many different ways to increase your metabolism other than just running an extra 100 miles every week. Exercise is great, but it pales in comparison to other methods of increasing your metabolism. So today, I’m going to share seven surprising ways.
Some things that may, I hope, surprise you seven surprising ways to increase your metabolism so that you can burn more calories, burn more fat and become a lean running machine. That’s what we’re all about here at the Running Lean podcast.
But first, if you like the podcast, please come check out our Facebook group, the Running Lean podcast community. This group goes hand in hand with the podcast we support each other. For our goals, we encourage each other it’s a really positive encouraging environment. So I want you to come check us out, come join us over there, and join in, in all the fun, we have a lot of fun over there. So just go to Facebook and search for the Running Lean community.
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And then lastly, the Running Lean coaching group is open. And I want to encourage you guys to just go check it out. And we’re doing this thing all month long as a group, we’re going through the whole thought-feeling action patterns, these things that are creating habits that have created habits for us.
A habit is just a combination of a thought feeling and an action. And there are these patterns that we’ve created over time. And we can actually change our thoughts we can change how we feel we can change what we’re doing so that we can get better results in all areas of our life. But we’re talking about trying to lose weight and having a hard time about it. You’ve got to look to your thoughts, feelings, and actions, you’ve got to look to your habits.
And then we’re just taking a really deep dive into this topic all month long over in the Running Lean coaching group right now. And we’re learning how to not only create a bunch of awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and actions, a ton of awareness of our unconscious habits, but we’re learning how to change them. We’re learning how to get better results in our lives.
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Okay, let’s get into this topic today because I’ve been having a lot of fun putting this together and doing a little bit of research for you guys. But there are seven what I found surprising, very surprising ways that you can actually increase your metabolism. So what is metabolism? First of all, metabolism refers to all the chemical processes in your body. This is like all the things that your body does just a minute to maintain its function, the faster your metabolism, you know, the more calories your body burns, right.
Metabolism is why some people seem to be able to eat a lot of food without gaining weight, while others seem to eat a lot less and accumulate more weight and more fat more quickly. So the speed of your metabolism is commonly known as your metabolic rate. And it’s basically the number of calories that you burn in a day. So, exercise and metabolism, we all know that exercise burns calories, right?
Running burns calories, and you can burn a lot of calories by running, you can go out there and run 10 miles and burn 1000 calories, or whatever it is. But listen, exercise is a much smaller part of your overall metabolism. So the minimum metabolic rate required to keep you alive and functioning while at rest is called your resting metabolic rate. They also call it your basal metabolic rate, they’re pretty much the same thing.
Okay, there are some slight differences, but we’re just going to call them the same thing for our purposes today. But on average, your resting metabolic rate accounts for between 50 and 75% of total calorie expenditure per day. This is huge. So the average resting metabolic rate for women is somewhere around 1400 calories. And for men, it’s around 1600 calories.
So just by like being you just by hanging around and not doing anything, if you were to just lay down all day, just lay in bed all day, lay on the couch watching Netflix all day, you’re still gonna burn around 1500 calories a day, just by doing nothing, right. So that’s kind of cool.
And if you can do a few things to increase your resting metabolism. So if you can do some things that will improve that 1500 calories or whatever it is for you, we’re all a little bit different. By the way, you’ll become a better calorie burner, you’ll become a better fat burner, you’ll become leaner, and you’ll become more fit, you’ll become healthier. Okay?
So this is why we’re talking about this today is because the more if you’re trying to lose weight, and you’re trying to become you know, a better, more efficient fat burner than increasing your metabolism will absolutely help to get you there. So, here are my seven surprising ways to increase your metabolism other than just like running a million miles.
Alright, so number one, my number one surprising way of increasing metabolism is to eat more food. You’re probably like what? So is it the number one thing people do when they’re trying to lose weight is they eat less. And this has been the gold standard for weight loss for many, many decades. And, you know, we all understand this, if you eat less food, you will lose weight. And this all has to do with calorie expenditure, right?
What is a calorie? A calorie is defined as the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. That’s it, it’s a unit of heat energy, okay. You can also think of it as the unit of measurement for the amount of energy your body gets from the foods that you consume.
So as you’re eating food, you can think of that as energy. And we can assign numbers to the amount of calories you’re burning and the amount of energy. Okay, so your body needs calories to function, right? We all know this stuff. But your body uses these calories in three there’s like three main processes that your your your body will use calories.
The first is your basal metabolic rate or resting metabolic rate. So this is the number of calories that you need to just cover your basic functions, right? Your brain has to function your kidneys have to function your heart has to, you know pump blood through your body, your lungs have to work your nervous system has to work all these things just working requires calories or requires energy. Without energy without calories coming in this stuff will stop functioning at some point. So that’s number one. Basal Metabolic Rate.
Number two is digestion. So your body will actually use a certain number of calories just to actually digest and metabolize the foods you eat to process, the foods that you eat. So this is known as the thermic effect of food or TF.
And then the third way that calories function in your body is through physical activities. So this refers to the number of calories needed to fuel your everyday tasks and workouts. So just sitting at your desk, driving your car, going for a walk, all these things require more calories than just your you know, basal metabolic rate. And the more physical activity you do, the higher your caloric need, typically, okay.
Generally speaking, eating more calories, taking in more calories than your body needs, will cause you to gain weight. And eating fewer calories than your body requires will cause you to lose weight. Generally speaking, this is called the energy balance theory.
And it’s supported by lots of scientific research. We all know that this does work however restricting calories too much, or for too long, will slow down your metabolism. So regularly, eating fewer calories than your body needs can cause your metabolism to become slower.
Several studies show that low-calorie diets can actually decrease the number of calories the body burns burn by as much as 23%. And this effect is known as metabolic adaptation or starvation mode. You’ve probably heard this term before. So starvation mode is basically your body’s way of warding off potential starvation and death.
So research shows that consistently, eating let’s say fewer than 1000 calories per day, leads to a significant drop in metabolic rate that sticks around long after you stop dieting. What’s more, is this lower metabolism can persist for long periods of time and can be very difficult to get back to normal.
Okay, so, you know, researchers believes that this lower metabolism may explain why more than 80% of people regain the weight. Once they go off their calorie-restricted diets. This is how they lose weight on shows like The Biggest Loser, right? They go on these massive calorie-deprived diets. And they lose a ton of weight, these people lose like hundreds of pounds or whatever.
But 93% of the people on that show regain all the weight back. It’s why they don’t ever have a reunion show on The Biggest Loser because there would only be a couple of people that show up. So cutting calories. You know, eating less, will help to lose weight in the short term, but it is definitely not sustainable. You’ve got to maintain a certain number of calories coming in, in order to keep your metabolism up.
So how much should you be eating? Well, a good rule of thumb for how much to eat if you’re trying to lose weight, is just to start with your body weight and 10 times that and in the number of calories you eat per day. So let’s say if you weigh 150 pounds, start with a daily caloric intake of around 1500 calories per day. And then you can adjust up or down depending on how fast or slow you’re losing weight.
The bottom line here is that if you’re going to lose weight by calorie restriction, which you can, it’s possible, but don’t restrict your calorie intake too much and definitely don’t do it for too long. So this is a real problem for a lot of people who go on these calorie-restricted diets and you know they lose weight, but it’s very hard to maintain that because your metabolism just slows down and slows down and slows down to match what you’re taking in. So the answer is to eat more food. Hooray!
But the type of food that you eat actually matters. And this brings me to point number two. So number two is to eat fewer carbohydrates. So all calories are not the same and our bodies certainly don’t process all calories alike. So a recent $12 million year-long study at Harvard showed that people on a low carb diet could actually eat more calories than those on a high carb diet without gaining weight.
Dr. David Ludwig was the principal investigator in the study. He’s an endocrinologist at Harvard says our study adds to the literature that suggests metabolic benefits for reducing processed carbohydrates in our diets. We found that diet had a major impact on metabolism, people consuming the lower carbohydrate diet and our study burned 250 calories per day more than those on the high carb diet.
That increase in the metabolism could spontaneously cause a 20-pound weight loss over three years without eating any less. If the low-carb diet reduced hunger and food intake as well, the weight loss would be greater. So what’s happening here? Well, there’s a relationship between carb intake, insulin, and weight gain.
So insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps keep blood sugar levels steady. And Dr. Ludwig says that insulin plays a role in weight gain when a person eats too many carbs. So after eating processed carbs from sources of specially refined carbs, like white bread cookies, cake, your insulin levels spike.
Next, insulin traps more calories in your fat cells causing weight gain. So you literally gain fat, your fat cells just get bigger and bigger. But the rest of the body still needs calories, so you remain hungry. And this cascade of events can make you more likely to overeat and slow your metabolism.
And Dr. Ludwig says that study participants who had been producing the most insulin, so the high insulin screeners saw the biggest effect on the low carb diet. The theory is that on their normal diets, the participants’ bodies worked in overdrive to produce insulin leading to an extra two extra stored calories and a slower metabolism.
So on the low carb diet, these high insulin creators were burning 400 more calories per day with those compared with those on the high carb diet. So the bottom line, eat fewer carbs, and you’ll increase your metabolism, eat more carbs, especially refined carbs, and you decrease your metabolism. That’s fascinating to me.
Number three is to lift heavy things. So an increase in muscle mass means you will burn more calories at rest. So it requires more energy for your body to carry around muscle than it does to carry around fat. So the more muscle mass that you put on, the more your metabolism increases.
So just having more muscle on your body will increase your metabolism and you don’t have to, you know, obviously, you have to do something to get more muscle. But once it’s there, you just become more efficient at burning calories. So your metabolism becomes increased just from having more muscle and it stays that way as long as you maintain that muscle mass.
So weight training will help you to maintain your metabolism, especially as you’re losing weight. So one thing that a lot of people get wrong is they try to lose weight. You know, maybe they’re doing the calorie deprivation sort of thing to lose weight calorie restriction, but they’re not doing any kind of weight training. And so they end up a lot of people end up losing muscle mass.
As they lose weight, a lot of the weight that they’re losing is actually muscle, which is not good because this just is going to make weight loss even harder for you because you’re losing muscle. And the more muscle you have helps to increase your metabolism. So you’re losing muscle, which just that alone will decrease your metabolism.
And if you’re doing the low carb thing, then that’s going to decrease your metabolism too. So, in one study 48 overweight women were placed on a diet of 800 calories per day, along with either no exercise or aerobic exercise or resistance training, weightlifting. After the diet, the women who did the resistance training, maintained their muscle mass, maintained their metabolism, and maintained their strength.
The others lost weight but also lost muscle mass and experienced a decrease in metabolism. So very simple way to increase your metabolism and get more muscle, lift heavy things. Do some sort of resistance training. And it doesn’t have to be some crazy convoluted thing where you’re spending 12 hours a week at the gym, you can do a full-body workout twice a week, and that would be sufficient to increase your muscle mass and maintain it, especially really, it only takes about one weight training session per week to maintain muscle mass.
But if you want to build more muscle, you need to do at least two weight training sessions a week, full body twice a week, 30 minutes each time all it really takes. And you can definitely increase your muscle mass and therefore increase your metabolism.
Alright, number four. The fourth surprising way to increase your metabolism is to eat more protein. So when you eat food, you burn calories. Every time you eat anything, your body has to use some energy, some calories in order to digest absorb, and process the nutrients in the food. So your body burns energy just by eating food, which is pretty cool, right? This is called the thermic effect of food or TF.
And different foods have different TF. So when you eat fat, this will increase your metabolic rate by up to 3%. Eating carbs can increase your metabolic rate by up to 10%. Like eating protein increases your metabolic rate up to 30%. So eating more protein means you are burning more calories, just by eating more protein means you are actually increasing your metabolism.
So the more protein you eat, the more your metabolism is increased. And eating more protein helps to build and maintain muscle mass which further increases your metabolism. So eating more protein is definitely something I recommend people do. It’s we’re focused on the wrong thing.
I think a lot of times when it comes to diet so many people are focused on just eating less in general. And instead what if you’re eating more? What if you’re eating more protein? How would that affect your weight loss? I think it would help would definitely help.
So now before I get into the last three items on my list, I want to take a pause here and talk about a common scenario. I talk to people every day who’ve been trying to lose weight for years, and nothing seems to be working. It’s really frustrating. I hear from so many people that are you know, they’ve been doing everything and it’s not working for them. And so when I asked, you know, most people, when I ask them, What are they doing? What, what it turns out, they’re doing this they’re cutting calories.
So they’re eating a lot less food for long periods of time. They’re eating a diet high in carbohydrates. So you know, they’re they’re following the advice of like, eat lots of healthy grains, you know, eat all the vegetables, eat all the fruits, you know, so they end up eating a lot of carbohydrates. They’re not doing any kind of resistance training.
So they’re not lifting anything heavy, they’re not building muscle, or they’re doing it wrong. They’re not lifting heavy enough weights. And so it ends up being more of like a cardio workout. And so they’re not building and maintaining muscle mass, they’re losing muscle. And then the fourth thing is that they’re not eating enough protein.
And I especially see this in women, women seem to have a really hard time eating enough protein. Okay. So what most people do when they’re trying to lose weight is they cut calories, eat a lot of carbs, don’t do any resistance training, and don’t get enough protein. Does this sound familiar? Is this you? Have you been doing this? Have you tried this? Does it work?
So many people take this approach to weight loss and they wonder why things aren’t working. But listen, every single one of these things slows down your metabolism. So if you were to do nothing else, if you were to just take one thing away from this discussion today, here’s what I want it to be for you do these four things: eat more food, lower your carbohydrate intake, especially refined carbohydrates, lift weights, do it properly, make sure it’s heavy enough and eat more protein.
You do these four things. I promise you, you’re gonna start to see better results, you’re gonna feel better. You’re gonna have more energy, your metabolism is gonna be higher and I think you’re gonna find that losing weight becomes easier. Okay, that was a little rant I went on there.
Back to my list, number five. Number five on my list of seven surprising ways to increase your metabolism is to drink more water. Yes, just drinking water can actually speed up your metabolism. A study found that water plays a role in increasing your resting metabolic rate through a process called water-induced thermogenesis.
So drinking about a pint of water can temporarily boost your metabolic rate by up to 30%. And this increase in metabolic rate seems to last for like 30 to 45 minutes. So drinking water, which is completely calorie-free, by the way, causes you to burn calories. What, how cool is that? So they did this study on overweight adults, and they show that when they drank half a liter of water, around 30 minutes before a meal, these people lost 44% more weight than those who did not drink water. So just this one thing accounted for 44% more weight loss, just drinking half a liter of water about half an hour before a meal. I mean, to me, this is a significant, significant finding.
If you’re not convinced that you should be drinking more water, I hope you’re being convinced now. And cold water seems to be even better because your body has to use more energy to heat up the water before it can process it. So just you know drinking cold water, especially about half an hour before a meal will help you to lose weight to help you to increase your metabolism.
So how much water should you be drinking? Well, a good rule of thumb is just to take your body weight and divide it in half. And this is the minimum number of ounces of water you should be drinking each day. So for me, I weigh 175 pounds, if I divide that by two, that’s 87 and a half ounces of water per day, or around five and a half pints of water, that would be a minimum. And for those who follow the metric system, five and a half pints would equate to about 2.5 to three liters of water. It’s like 2.7 liters of water.
So if you’re getting, you know, a couple to three liters of water a day, I think this is totally sufficient. I think this is awesome. At a minimum, right. So just you know more is fine. But a lot of this is going to be detrimental for a lot of different reasons. But you know, drinking more water will help to increase your metabolism.
There’s another beverage that helps to increase your metabolism. Can you guess what it is? It’s my favorite, my favorite beverage. So number six, the sixth surprising way to increase your metabolism is to drink more coffee. That’s right, coffee has been shown to increase your metabolism. This is such good news. makes me so happy. Love my coffee.
So a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that caffeine can increase your resting metabolic rate by as much as 11% with larger doses having a greater effect. Okay, so most of this increase in metabolism is actually caused by an increase in fat burning. So not only does coffee increase your metabolism, but it’s directly related to burning more fat specifically.
Now, here’s something I thought was kind of interesting. This effect on metabolism from caffeine seems to be less pronounced in people who are obese. So one study showed that caffeine increased fat burning by as much as 20% in leaner people while the increase was only about 10% in obese individuals, so okay, the leaner you are, the greater the increase in the metabolic rate from caffeine.
But either way, there’s still an increase in metabolism just from drinking coffee, which I think is really cool. And it doesn’t have to be just coffee it can be you can get the same effect from other natural sources of caffeine like green tea, black tea matcha, which is just powdered green tea, right? So, coffee is good for you.
Coffee increases metabolism. Coffee increases fat burning coffee makes life good in general. So if you’re a coffee drinker, you’re my people. You’re with me on this. If you hate coffee, or you’ve never had it before, then you’re missing out. I’m just telling you just start drinking coffee. Give it a shot. It’s a bit of an acquired taste. But I love it. Love it. Love it, love it.
Okay, and number seven on my list of surprising ways to increase your metabolism is to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep will increase your metabolism. What? I know these things, some of these things sound like counterintuitive, but it’s so true because we Just keep thinking of like, Oh, you wanna increase your metabolism, go run more, go exercise more jump up and down. You know, if somebody told me Oh, you want to increase your metabolism, go sleep. It’s like what, that doesn’t make any sense, but it’s true.
Sleep is how we rest. It’s how we recover. It’s how we rejuvenate. And most of us are not getting enough sleep. The consequences of sleep deprivation are being increasingly recognized by science like we are a sleep-deprived society. Currently, we sleep on average, about 6.8 hours, this is the average person’s 6.8 hours of sleep a night, as opposed to nine hours of sleep a century ago. Let’s bring those days back. Right.
So around 30% of adults report sleeping less than six hours per night. This lack of adequate sleep is making it very difficult for us to maintain metabolic and hormonal equilibrium. Without adequate sleep. Our bodies just don’t function properly, our bodies are kept in a highly stressful state. That when you’re stressed out, the stress hormone cortisol is increased blood sugar is higher insulin is higher. And lack of sleep is directly linked to a major increase in the risk of obesity.
And this is partly because of the negative effects of sleep deprivation on your metabolism. So Michael Breus. He’s a PhD, author of Beauty Sleep, and the Clinical Director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Arizona. He says if you are sleep deprived, meaning that you’re not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly.
On average, we need about seven and a half hours of quality sleep per night, he says. And if you’re getting this already, you know another half hour is not going to help you lose 10 pounds. But if you’re a five-hour sleeper, and you start to sleep for seven hours a night you will start dropping weight. This is fascinating.
So exactly how the lack of sleep affects our metabolism has a lot to do with our nightly hormones. So there are two hormones that are key in this process and they are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone that tells you it’s time to eat. And when you’re sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin, so you end up being more hungry, and you end up eating more food.
Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating is the satiety hormone. So when you’re sleep-deprived, you have less leptin, and you end up eating more food. So you’re eating more, plus your metabolism is slower when you’re sleep-deprived. So getting a good night’s sleep will directly increase your metabolism. I think this is awesome.
So, everybody, I’m giving you permission to sleep more. I’ve been really focused on sleep lately. And I gotta tell you, I feel so much better when I get seven half, eight hours of sleep. If I get eight hours of sleep, I feel good. I don’t, I can’t really sleep more than that. I don’t know about nine hours of sleep. I really know it’d be hard for me to do that right now. Because I just wake up and I’m like, Okay, I’m ready to go. Because I feel good. I feel rested when I wake up in the morning.
And I think my metabolism is really efficient like I’m burning plenty of calories, even at rest. So I mean, everything seems to be functioning properly for me. So I’m in a good place with my sleep. And I would encourage you to do what it takes to make sure you’re getting a good night’s sleep. Make sure you’re sleeping in a cool dark room. Make sure you’re not doing screens right before you go to bed. You know that blue light can disrupt sleep.
If you sleep with someone, make sure they don’t, you know, bother you or like keep waking you up all night long. Hate those people that do that. So getting a good night’s sleep is so important just it’ll absolutely help to increase your metabolism.
So quick summary. There are many ways you can increase your metabolism and promote healthy weight loss and improve fat burning all while supporting your goals as a runner, so number one, eat more food. Number two, eat fewer carbs, especially refined carbs. Number three, lift heavy things. Number four, eat more protein. Number five, drink more water especially cold water. Number six, drink more coffee, or green tea or macho black tea. And then number seven, get a good night’s sleep.
Well, I hope you found something interesting and something helpful from this podcast today. I had a lot of fun putting this together. And be sure to join us over in the Running Lean coaching group for this month of August. We’re taking a deep dive into our habits into those thought-feeling action patterns that are creating the habits.
They’ve created habits that are not serving us, we’re trying to learn how to create new habits that do serve us, we want to change our health and our fitness in our, in our mindset. And we’re doing all of that over in the Running Lean coaching group. So just go to runningleanpodcast.com/join.
And if you did get something out of this today, if you could consider sharing this with a friend, I would so appreciate that. Love you all keep on Running Lean, and I’ll talk to you soon.
If you’re a runner and you’ve been struggling to lose weight or you keep losing and gaining the same 10 pounds over and over again. Or you’re finally ready to get to your natural weight and stay there for good this time then I have something you will love. I’ve created a powerful new training just for you called running lean for life. You’ll learn exactly how to transform yourself into a lean fat-burning running machine. So you can run without bonking, lose weight without calorie counting and develop the habits required to make it last for life. To get this free training right now go to runningleanpodcast.com/leanforlife and start your transformation today.