Want to lose fat? The obvious step is to reduce your caloric intake and cut out carbs. But you don’t have to. When you’re on a mission to burn fat, it’s important you know how to speed up metabolism. Increasing your resting metabolic rate will prove to be much more beneficial in the long run, rather than continually restricting calories.
You can only decrease your caloric intake so far until it starts to become problematic. Eventually, you’ll reach a point that’s too low, and you’ll have nowhere to go without risking nutritional deficiency and hormone changes.
By working on the other side of the equation – your energy output – you will fare much better. This doesn’t mean doing hours and hours of exercise! So how do you speed up metabolism? It’s not as hard as you think. Here are five things you can easily implement for greater fat-burning results:
1. Build muscle mass
Perhaps the single best action you can take to optimize your resting metabolic rate is to build muscle mass. Muscle is very metabolically active. So the more muscle you have, the higher your total daily energy expenditure will be at rest.
This is partly why larger men tend to be able to eat more food without gaining weight – they simply have more muscle mass to support. However, it’s also the reason adults tend to gain weight with age. Losing muscle mass as you get older leads to a slower metabolic rate. 1
Instead of focusing so much on losing weight, perhaps you should switch gears and try gaining weight first – in the form of new muscle, of course. Incorporating more resistance training into your weekly exercise routine will help you build that lean muscle mass.
2. Get sufficient sleep
If you aren’t sleeping well, every system in your body is going to be impacted. It’s important that you focus on getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Not hitting that mark can likely result in physiological changes, including changes to your hormones.
You may notice a decrease in testosterone levels, as well as a suppressed metabolic rate, according to a study published in the Sleep Medicine Reviews.2 Lack of sleep can also impair glucose sensitivity, which can increase your chances of gaining weight.
3. Take a pre-workout formula
If you want a temporary boost to your metabolic rate, a good quality pre-workout like Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged is an excellent choice. This formula contains caffeine, which has been proven to produce an increase in resting metabolic rate for a few hours after taking it, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 3
Caffeine can also help increase the rate of fatty acid oxidation in the body, leading to superior fat burning, especially during exercise. Plus, caffeine gives you that extra edge in the gym, so you can train harder.
Keep in mind that you can overdo caffeine. You don’t want to take more in an effort to keep raising your metabolic rate. Consuming too much caffeine can actually be detrimental to your health and prevent you from getting enough sleep (see #2 above).
4. Do high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
In addition to heavy weight lifting for building muscle mass, you want to add high-intensity interval training on a regular basis. This form of cardio creates a process called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). EPOC results in post-workout energy expenditure, as your body’s systems return back to their homeostatic state.
This can have profound effects on total fat loss. Research published in the Exercise and Sport Sciences journal has consistently demonstrated that subjects who perform intense interval training lose more fat than those who are doing steady state training for an extended period of time. 4
This type of cardio is also very time efficient, so it’s great for those who are looking to minimize their total time commitment in the gym.
5. Maximize your carbohydrate intake
One final must-do for increasing your metabolic rate: maximize carbohydrate intake. If you are currently trying to lose weight and are on a very low-carb diet, this could be part of the reason your metabolism is slowing down – instead of speeding up.
Low-carb diets cause leptin levels to decline faster than a more moderate carbohydrate diet. Leptin is one of the main hormones that controls your resting metabolic rate. By adding more complex carbohydrates to your diet plan, either daily or through periodic high-carb days (also known as refeeds), you can help reduce the drop in leptin and sustain a higher resting metabolic rate, according to research published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. 5
One of the worst things you can do when seeking fat loss is to chronically restrict your carbohydrate intake. You’ll not only be damaging your hormonal environment, but you’ll also be feeling pretty miserable as you continue to diet. Also consider the fact that low-carb diets don’t support intense physical activity. That means you’ll have a hard time completing your heavy weight lifting sessions or HIIT workouts.