I see all kinds of commercials on the TV about how to lose X amount of weight in Y amount of time, and how this old guy looks surprisingly like this younger guy, even though he's not supposed to. My main gripe about these commercials were that they are basically a tailored diet and exercise plan that anyone with Google (and some time) could figure out for themselves.

While visiting my father recently, I brought this up and he mentioned that at least one of these "miracle plans", used a pill to increase metabolism (which helps a lot with dropping fat during exercise).

My question is this: What natural ways can I use to increase my metabolism, and how effective are they?

I've heard numerous things towards this such as

  • Eating spicy foods
  • Eating regularly
  • Exercising Regularly
  • Having a good-sized breakfast and eating proportionate meals
  • Drinking plenty of water (which I picked up from this question)

Are there any others that I am missing? What has worked for you? What hasn't?

3 Answers 3


You have already listed some good points.

I don't believe eating spicy foods has any long term effect on metabolism. It's true that spicy foods increase the body temperature. Calories must be used to generate that extra heat. After a few minutes, the heat goes away, so what good does it do?

Eating regularly makes your body believe that food is abundant and will readily use the nutrients. Eating large portions spaced far apart will make the body believe there is a "famine" and will store the food as fat to prepare for hard times. This is an evolutionary trait going all the way back to the cavemen. They ate as the foraged because they had no way to store the food. As a result, they were lean.

Eating breakfast is related to this matter. But it's more about eating protein in the morning that keeps you satiated - something not directly related to metabolism, but of mental state. Look at this April 2011 article in Men's Health Magazine:

Hard Abs, Over Easy. Wake up and smell the proof: People with a history of skipping breakfast have larger waists by nearly 2 inches - than those who eat in the a.m., new research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals. Pass on breakfast and you may pig out later, the study warned. Over time, this can cause your body to store more fat. Shoot for 20 to 30 grams of protein at breakfast.

You may want to read up on Basal animal metabolic rate for more tips on increasing your metabolism. From personal experience, weight lifting to increase muscle mass has given boosted my metabolism through the roof. In the first 6 months of weight lifting, I dropped a pant size, yet gained 10 lbs of lean mass. Muscle burns a ton of calories just to maintain. The more ripped you are, the more calories you burn just by sitting.

The body's generation of heat is known as thermogenesis and it can be measured to determine the amount of energy expended. BMR decreases with age and with the loss of lean body mass. Increasing muscle mass increases BMR. Aerobic fitness level, a product of cardiovascular exercise, while previously thought to have effect on BMR, has been shown in the 1990s not to correlate with BMR, when fat-free body mass was adjusted for. New research[citation needed] has however come to light which suggests anaerobic exercise does increase resting energy consumption (see "Aerobic vs. anaerobic exercise"). Illness, previously consumed food and beverages, environmental temperature, and stress levels can affect one's overall energy expenditure as well as one's BMR.

The afterburn effect also increases metabolism. This effect describes the energy burned on the days after your workout. Scientific studies show that high intensity cardio increases the afterburn effect. So don't waste your time doing hours of slow cardio. 10 to 20 minutes of fast running burns more calories when measured over several days.

Phelian et al. (1997) investigated the effects of low intensity (50% VO2 max) and high intensity (75% VO2 max) exercise on the EPOC response. Although the energy cost of both exercise bouts was 500 calories, the higher intensity bout caused a significantly higher EPOC than the lower intensity bout (9.0 liters, 45 calories versus 4.8 liters, 24 calories).


In the American Journal of Critical Nutrition '99 is an article mentioning that drinking green tea has an increasing effect on the metabolism:

Green tea has thermogenic properties and promotes fat oxidation beyond that explained by its caffeine content per se.


"Eating regularly" and "Having a good-sized breakfast and eating proportionate meals"

Proportional meals or when you eat your meals haven't really been proven anywhere. Actually what have been observed in quite a few studies is that you can eat however you want, and it wont affect how you metabolise food.

The study Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet found:

We conclude that any effects of meal pattern on the regulation of body weight are likely to be mediated through effects on the food intake side of the energy balance equation.

The study named Meal frequency and energy balance goes further:

We conclude that increasing MF does not promote greater body weight loss under the conditions described in the present study.


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