bodyweight scale saying WTF

Basal Metabolic Rate: How To Increase Metabolism Fast

[toc]Don’t you miss the days when you were young and could pig out on whatever you want, without gaining a pound?

Pizza, milkshakes, In-N-Out animal style fries… it was all fair game back then. Now when we eat those foods, we’re left with a bulging belly as a side effect!

For women – especially if you are over 40 years old – losing weight can be extra challenging. This is because of metabolic changes in your body that happen leading up to and after menopause. And that’s even without the added baby fat after giving birth, if you’ve had children. Excess fat from earlier you still may be carrying into your 40’s and 50’s.

That’s why supplements with ingredients that stimulate metabolism are so popular, like Genius Burn.

For men, the most dramatic decade of change is from age 20 to 30. Sure, the fact that you were a track star or football player in high school helped keep you trim, but that’s not the only reason you may have gotten fat since graduating. Just look at the chart to see how much your metabolism decreases as you age and get older.

How much does your metabolism slow down as you age?

basal metabolic rate decline rate chart for male and femaleData Source: Montana State University, College of Education, Health & Human Development, report dated 1998

Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the amount of calories you burn just by being alive. No, we’re not talking what you burn in the gym or even taking a stroll down the street. Rather just how many calories your body will burn per day if you were to literally lay in bed and do nothing but the bare minimum. In other words, how much you use just existing.

Basal Energy Expenditure (BEE) and Resting Energy Expenditure (REE) are synonyms talking about the same thing (well technically, something quite close to it).

how much a baby brain grows first 90 days
Credit: Dominic Holland et al., University of California, San Diego School of Medicine

When does your metabolism start to slow down? It’s after you were just 1 year old. As soon as you popped out of your mom’s womb, your brain alone grew at a rate of 1% per day for the first 3 months as a newborn (1). Do you know how many calories of energy that takes to do? A lot!

How much calories you burn as a teenager is about 25% less than what you had needed during your first decade of life as a young boy/girl.

As you enter your 20’s your BMR drops like a rock. Females get hit first with the most dramatic decrease happening during their late teens. Unfairly, males get to coast a more gradual decline from age 20 to 30.

No wonder it’s so hard to naturally lose weight. Isolating this chart solely to your adulthood, your metabolism peaks before you’re even old enough to drink! Starting literally on your 18th birthday, it only decreases and gets worse as you age.

In short, your entire adult life is one downhill ride. Our highest BMR peak days are behind us.

Think you can blame genetics? Think again.

Let’s face it. As humans, we love blaming everyone else for our own problems. Weight gain is no different.

Before you gripe and moan that you have it worse than the next guy or gal, consider the facts.

Many people look at those who are skinny and say “that’s only because they have a fast metabolism.”

Or they blame their inability to lose weight on some unfair disadvantage; “the reason I can’t lose weight is because I have a slow metabolism.”  That statement may be true, but it’s most likely your own fault that your metabolism is slow, not your genes.

But don’t take our word for it. Take it from the best and brightest in medicine.

Slow metabolism is rare, and it’s usually not what’s behind being overweight or obese.

That’s a quote by Dr. Donald Hensrud of the Mayo Clinic (2). Not some quack either, he’s one of the most respected in his field. For more than a decade he directed their Executive Health Program. Currently he is chair of the Division of Preventive, Occupational and Aerospace Medicine with a joint appointment in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, & Nutrition, and not to mention, an associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition.

Why are we to blame? The reason is because calories are a unit of energy. They are not some arbitrary measurement that changes depending how the wind blows. Just like how an ounce of sand in Michigan will weigh the same as an ounce of sand in California, a calorie is worth a calorie no matter what. Young or old, fat or skinny, it’s the same value.

Why is my metabolism so slow? (That can be true!)

Now it is 100% true that your metabolism can be dramatically slower than the next guy or gal, where your body burns fewer calories than they do. This is possible even if they share your same age, height, and other characteristics.

How so? Because factors you control can affect how fast (or slow) your body uses energy.

So even though it’s true that family history and genetics *might* have an influence, there are many things you can control which are more likely to cause your metabolism to slow.

man with insomniaA few of those factors you can control which were cited by Dr. Hensrud include:

  • Eating too many calories
  • Getting too little physical activity
  • Unhealthy habits, such as routinely not getting enough sleep
  • Certain medications

In a moment we’ll explain how you can hack these and increase your metabolism. Before that though, it’s important to point out something about the how the Basal Metabolic Rate of males vs. females compares.

As a woman, after seeing the above BMR chart it probably makes you envious of your husband, boyfriend, or just any random guy walking down the street.

Yes, it is 100% accurate you are getting the short end of the stick early on, since your BMR drops quicker in adulthood than it does for men. But beginning in the early 30’s that changes. From age 30ish and onward, both genders have comparable Basal Metabolic Rates.

But wait, the men’s orange line is so much higher than the pink! It is indeed. But remember how much bigger male bodies are. How tall is the average American adult female? 5 ft 5 inches. The male? 5 ft 10 in.

The reason the line is higher for males is because they need more energy, simply because they are bigger on average. However the ratio of energy burned – calories versus body mass – is comparable for both genders.

Women do get another unfair bump down with menopause in their 40’s and 50’s, but that only equals around 1 or 2 calories (per m² per hour). On an equal body mass comparison, over a 24 hour period that might mean you’re getting screwed out of literally a bite or two of extra food versus a male who is the same age (and that difference disappears a decade or two later).

In other words, neither men nor women have it easy after age 30.

How to boost resting metabolic rate for weight loss

If you want to know how to lose weight fast, all of the options can be summed up as:

woman holding chocolate trying to resist1st solution = torture yourself

You’re not stupid (in fact if you’re reading this website, you’re likely quite smart). So you are already well aware that the solution is to eat less calories if you want to drop that belly fat and slim your body down.

The problem with that? If you want to maintain your current diet, that basically means resisting the urge to eat and starving yourself 24/7… not fun!

2nd solution = weight loss surgery

Gastric bypass. Lap band. Liposuction.

The problem with gastric bypass? It’s an irreversible procedure that involves permanently cutting out part of your digestive tract. A good friend of Superfoodly had that procedure when she was 19 years old (one of the youngest ever in her state) and in the more than one decade since then, she has encountered horrible side effects of inadequate nutrient, vitamin, and mineral absorption.

The problem with lap band? It is not low risk as some TV and radio commercials seem to infer. Dr. Jacques Himpens, of Saint Pierre University Hospital in Brussels, is one of the doctors who first started doing lap band surgery and greatly contributed to popularizing the procedure around the world. He and his colleagues did a long term review of his patients and were surprised to find quite a few complications.

Among the lap band patients followed for 12+ years, about 60% had at least one re-operation for complications or device failure.

Tara Reid magazine coverThis landmark study was published a few years back in the prestigious BJU International Journal (3). It’s the official journal of the British Association of Urological Surgeons, the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand, the Hong Kong Urological Association, as well as for numerous other countries and regions.

The problem with lipo? It’s temporary because if your diet or Basal Energy Expenditure doesn’t change, you will just gain the weight back. It costs a fortune but even if you’re rich, keep in mind it is only getting rid of fat in the areas treated. So sure, you can reduce your belly fat, but your arms, legs, ankles, neck, and back will still be fat unless you treat all those, too.

Plus there’s no guarantee of success, not even for celebrities. You probably remember Tara Reid’s tummy disaster from over a decade ago.

3rd solution = lifestyle and foods that speed up metabolism

In our opinion, this is by far the easiest way.

Let’s focus on the #1 scientifically proven technique to rev up your metabolism so you can naturally burn more calories (even when you’re resting). Plus, painless and easy ways for you to consume less of them in your diet without having to feel like you’re hungry all the time. Torture is not the solution!

The #1 food to avoid

You need to cut out all refined oils.

Everyone already knows that oils and butters are loaded with calories, but very few people seem to grasp just how much more food they could eat if they only skipped the oil.

Take a look at these two pics…

tablespoon of oil compared to size of equal food calories

On the left you have a tablespoon of olive oil.

But whether its olive, coconut, canola, flax, organic, non-organic, whatever… all refined oils are approximately 120 calories per tablespoon. There’s no such thing as a low calorie oil. Regardless of the type, the most they differ by in calorie count is 1% or 2% (i.e. 118 vs. 120). Butter is almost just as bad, still calculating out at more than 100 per Tbsp.

On the right you have a beautiful purple sweet potato loaded with antioxidants. The calories for the entire potato – that includes both halves – is only about 130 calories. And the food you see there has no oils or butters, yet is still extremely juicy thanks to our healthy recipe of how to cook purple yams.

So take your pick what you want to eat…

  • 1 potato + oil/butter on it (and remain hungry after)
  • 2 potatoes you can jazz up with spices that add almost no calories (under 5 cal.)

Both are about the same amount of calories, but one will leave you much more satisfied!

Remember that part about torturing yourself? If there was just one dieting tip we could give you, it would be to simply cut out refined oils.

By doing so, you don’t torture yourself feeling hungry. Instead you get to eat massive amounts of food, as long as they’re the right types.

engine2 diet veggie burgers
You will find the Engine 2 brand at Whole Foods. No added oils to any of their products. Try their hummus… same delicious taste but a fraction of the calories as normal!

The bad news is that in the Western diet, you seem to find added oil in everything. Not just fast food, but pretty much all restaurants including fast casual. Even the deli case salads at “healthy” Whole Foods are drowning in oil, not all but many of them are. Frozen foods and especially shelf-stable processed foods are guilty, too.

This does mean you will need to prepare more of your own food. But if you want to lose weight without starving yourself to death, it’s well worth the effort!

Not to mention, all refined oils are linked to atherosclerosis. Olive oil is not healthy for you. We saw one superficial/non-researched spam article list EVOO as a metabolism booster, which is 100% untrue.

Fats are good for us, but not unnaturally refined pure fats. Those types of fat aren’t found anywhere in nature and something our body doesn’t really know how to handle. On that note despite what you’ve heard, it’s why coconut oil is not paleo diet friendly as many seem to believe, since it contradicts the definition of paleo!

The specific type of exercise that works

This is another stupid tip you hear in many advice columns. They say if you exercise more you can lose weight.

Oh really? Are you that dumb you didn’t know that?! Of course you already knew that.

However there is one piece of info many people don’t know, because the “advice” articles fail to tell you about it.

The truth is, the biggest benefit of exercising is not necessarily the 300 calories you burned on the treadmill at the gym yesterday. No, the real advantage is what it can do to make your metabolism faster.

It’s not just the calories you burn doing it, but also the fact that fitness revs up your Resting Energy Expenditure (REE). Permanently increasing it, as long as you keep the routing going.

woman meditatingLight cardio like a brisk mile walk or moderate pace on the exercise bike is great for your heart, but it’s not going to do a whole lot for boosting your metabolic rate afterwards (4). Primarily the benefit derived will be whatever amount of calories you burned doing it.

Yoga and meditation activities are the worst. True, they may be good for your mind and stress relief. They may also be good for stretching and light muscle activity. But guess what? That physiological relaxation might be working a little too good, because numerous studies have demonstrated that yoga actually lowers your Basal Metabolic Rate (5) (6).

Only 1 type of exercise significantly raises your metabolism

Ever hear about those crazy diets that bodybuilders are on, consuming up to 4,000 to 5,000 calories per day without gaining an ounce of fat?

You would assume they must be in the gym 24/7 but often times, those bodybuilders are just doing a hour or two workout that’s 4 to 5 days per week.

On the other hand you have people doing 60 to 90 minutes of light to moderate cardio 5 to 6 days a week, yet they may only get away with consuming half that number of calories.

laying on bench lifting barbellsThe reason for this is because it’s high intensity exercise, which is the number one best scientifically proven way of increasing your Basal Metabolic Rate.

Sure, you’re burning lots of calories while you’re lifting weights or doing sprints, but not exponentially more than moderate physical activities. The increased burning is really seen after the high intensity sessions end, even when you’re sleeping, your body uses up more energy as a result. Only in a world with better Resting Energy Expenditure can even taking a nap help you drop pounds!

Not a bodybuilder? Most ladies don’t want big muscles and many men look better being toned instead of bulky. We understand! The good news is it’s not just male bodybuilders who can experience this. There are other forms of exercise both genders can do without having the side effect of bulking up.

What is anaerobic exercise?

It’s high intensity fitness for short a duration of time. The goal is to have the body’s oxygen demand exceed the supply of it available. Instead, energy stored in the muscles is used.

Obviously bench pressing and lifting weights are one type, but here are 3 other examples of anaerobic exercises:

1. Sprint like you stole something

We’re not talking marathon running here. A 300 meter sprint or about 1,000 feet (less than 1/4 of a mile) is all it takes if you’re giving it all you have. Translation? Run like you stole something and imagine the police as well as their veracious German Shepherds are right behind chasing you. If you do that, it will be anaerobic for sure!

minimalist exercise2. Pushups or sit-ups as fast as you can

It’s not about the total number you do. What’s more important is how much effort you exert when you do them quickly.

3. Any form of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

Jump roping, swimming, spin cycling, rowing… if they’re safe for doing so, there are no limits as to what activities you can use to accomplish anaerobic training. To do HIIT you just need to get to 85% of your maximum heart rate for 30 to 60 seconds, followed by one or two minute recovery.

For something in the gym, it could be as simple as running at 9 miles per hour on the treadmill for 30 seconds, followed by a 60 second walk at a 4 mile clip. Repeat that 12 to 15 times and the workout only costs you 20 minutes of your time, yet the effects if has last long after.

With any of these we trigger EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). This is by far the best way how to increase your metabolism fast, since you can literally begin immediately. For affecting Basal, no other method has as much proof as this technique.

Before doing any of these exercises, consult your doctor. People with heart conditions as well as many other diseases may not be able to do these types of high intensity exercise. They could be especially dangerous for older adults.

You have “significantly elevated” metabolism up 38 hours after anaerobic fitness (7).

Eat the right types of food

matcha green teaWe already touched on being able to eat more food for less calories. Another food trick is to consume things which benefit your metabolism.

And no, we’re not talking about those ads you see for “one weird food trick to to blast belly fat” (which just ends up being diet pill scams).

The tricks we are talking about are the foods backed by science. Best of all they are readily available.

Consider green tea. This is not a fly-by-night fad food. Plenty of research suggests it naturally increases energy expenditure.

Take the almost 20 year old study (from 1999) which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (8). It concluded that green tea had thermogenic effects that were not explained by its caffeine content. Compared to the placebo participants, the green tea group experienced a 4% boost in metabolism of a 24 hour period.

The half-life of caffeine is 5.7 hours (9). So anytime after lunch, it would be a good idea to stick with decaf green tea which still offers the same benefit. Because remember what was said above, about how decreased basal metabolic rate is caused by poor sleep (at least as one factor). You don’t want the green tea to cause that!

If you’re on a 2,000 calorie per day diet, 4% quicker equals 80 more calories consumed. Every little bit helps.

baobab fruit hanging on tree
African baobab fruit

Then there are some foods which may or may not boost metabolism (undetermined) but the research still suggests weight loss might correlate with their consumption, even if they don’t know for sure the reason why.

Apple cider vinegar benefits are one you should read up on. Chia seeds are another, albeit more controversial and if they help, it’s probably not related to BMR.

Not only is its ORAC value off the charts, making it one of the highest antioxidant foods on the plant, but baobab fruit powder‘s high amounts of fiber may help you feeling full for longer.