How to Take Your Metabolism to the Next Level

how to increase metabolism

Want to Increase Your Metabolism?

We all want our metabolism hitting on all cylinders like a calorie-devouring internal fire! That being said, it really doesn’t take rocket science to figure out how to speed up your metabolism (like thermogenic foods). Follow these simple steps below to increase your metabolism to new incredible heights!

Increase Your Metabolism: Afterburn or EPOC

If you aren’t trying to ramp up your afterburn / EPOC effect (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) then you really are missing out on a huge way to ramp up your metabolism.

In simplest terms, it takes your body an extended period of time to get back to the normal resting state after an intense workout and this can be measured by the extra oxygen you consume after a workout (one extra liter of oxygen consumed equals 5 extra calories burned; Vella & Kravitz 2004); aka the EPOC effect. How big of a deal is this?

I’m talking about burning calories 38 hours after a workout (Schuenke et al 2002) and even up to 48 hours (Vella & Kravitz 2004)! This can cause you to burn over 150 EXTRA calories after your workout just sitting on your couch watching Big Bang Theory (Bahr & Sejersted 1991)! How do we do this?

Let’s go to the science for the best way to ramp up your afterburn:

  1. Perform exercise at a high intensity (70 – 75% or your VO2 max)
  2. Perform for at least 20-30 minutes
  3. Perform resistance/circuit training

First off, the workout HAS to be high intensity; 70 – 75% VO2 max (Kaminsky et al 1990) for at least 20-30 minutes (time trade-off strategy from Quinn et al 1994) to achieve a killer EPOC effect! You can use this VO2 calculator to get your target VO2max and the correlating heart rate at which you need to stay during your workout (this is definitely not 100% accurate; you need high-tech nerdy lab equipment to get a true VO2max).

Lastly, perform resistance training (Elliot et al 1992) to create the largest EPOC effect; circuits are even better for ramping up the afterburn (Murphy & Schwarzkopf 1992) [we will talk about strength training more below].

Combine the above into one kick-ass workout and your metabolism will be through the roof!

Thermogenic Foods

Increase your metabolism (2)We’ve all heard of thermogenic foods. For instance, that the capsaicin in hot peppers can help your body oxidize fat and boost your internal body temp…aka helps to increase your metabolism (Lejeune et al. 2003). While this may be true, but who wants to sit around pounding jalapenos all day?

That could lead to disastrous bathroom results…

Another way to boost your metabolism is to eat more protein! Protein is highly thermogenic and can help speed up metabolism. In fact, a portion of its caloric content is used in the digestive process in general!

Try to stick to lean proteins and eat around 0.8 – 1.0 grams of protein per pound of LEAN bodyweight. You can calculate your lean body mass using this calculator [Note: this is only an ESTIMATE of your lean body mass and not 100% accurate]. Make sure to concentrate on protein to boost your metabolism to killer levels (along with other great benefits)!

Some other great thermogenic foods that can help speed up your metabolism are green tea, ice water, green veggies, and high-fiber foods.

Drop the Calorie Restriction

Ever been here? You want to lose weight so badly so you instinctively think that you need to cut more calories than you already have. So you go from 1400 calories a day to 1100 calories a day. Not only are you incredibly fatigued and starving but you probably won’t lose any weight either!

You are harming your metabolism by having such a restrictive diet!

You are depriving your body of so many calories that it is severely stressed and probably releasing cortisol in order to actually uptake fat for future instances of this type of stress.

It may also be slowing down your metabolism because it realizes you aren’t getting many calories.

Instead, create a small calories deficit that still allows you to lose weight while also keeping your metabolism running strong. Remember that a calorie deficit of only 100 calories a day still equals 10.4 pounds lost over the course of a year. A 200 calories deficit a day is 20.8 pounds!

Find the small calorie deficit that works best for you; don’t get too restrictive! You will not lose weight and you can wreck your metabolism!

Strength Train

Increase your metabolism (1)The benefits of strength training are far-reaching and it goes way beyond helping to boost your metabolism! Not only does it help actually strengthen bones and fight osteoporosis it can be a vital part of the afterburn effect listed above and therefore increase your metabolism.

And DUH…strength training can help build muscle and boost our metabolism!

More muscle can equal more calories burned throughout the day, considering it burns more calories than fat. Not only does it help boost our metabolism but it is vital in keeping us strong and living a quality life! Try to strength train 2-3 times a week.

Even training for as little as 20 minutes at home at a high intensity can help you build muscle. Don’t want to go to the gym or don’t have equipment? Try bodyweight training to get great results!


It isn’t rocket science if you want to increase your metabolism.

Eat quality foods without severely restricting your intake, exercise at a high intensity (in the form of strength training or circuits), and eat the right foods in order to increase your metabolism to new heights!


Bahr R, Sejersted OM (1991) Effect of intensity of exercise on excess postexercise oxygen consumption. Metabolism 40: 836–41.

Elliot DL, Goldberg L, Kuehl KS (1992) Effect of resistance training on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. J Appl Sport Sci Res 6: 77-81.

Lejeune MPGM, Kovacs EMR, Westerterp-Plantenga MS (2003) Effect of capsaicin on substrate oxidation and weight maintenance after modest body-weight loss in human subjects. British Journal of Nutrition 90:651-659.

Kaminsky LA, Padjen S, LaHam-Saeger J (1990) Effect of split exercise sessions on excess postexercise oxygen consumption. Brit J Sports Med 24: 95-98.

Murphy E, Schwarzkopf R (1992) Effects of standard set and circuit weight training on excess postexercise oxygen consumption. J Appl Sport Sci Res 6: 88-91.

Quinn TJ, Vroman NB, Kertzer R (1994) Postexercise oxygen consumption in trained females: Effect of exercise duration. Med Sci Spots Exer 26: 908-913.

Schuenke MD, Mikat RP, McBride JM (2002) Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: Implications for body mass management. Eur J Appl Physiol 86: 411-417.

Vella CA, Kravitz L (2004) Exercise after-burn: A research update. IDEA Fit J 1.5: 42-47.

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Josh is the founder of DIY Active - your at home fitness source! He enjoys blending the latest science and expert advice with health practices to help you exercise smarter at home!
Josh Anderson
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