Tips to rev up your metabolism


By: Jennifer McMillen Smith, MSSA, LISW-S, Division of Infectious Disease and medically reviewed by Ann Avery, Infectious Disease Physician at Metrohealth Medical Center

We all know people who can put away an entire buffet and never gain a single pound while some of us feel like we gain weight just walking past a bakery! The reason behind this, you ask? It all comes down to metabolism.


What is metabolism?

So what exactly is metabolism? Basically, it’s the process of converting the food we eat into energy for our cells to power our body. It doesn’t just happen when we’re eating though. It takes place 24/7 to keep our bodies running, whether we’re sleeping or awake.

Everyone’s metabolism works at a different speed. Remember that person we mentioned earlier who can clear out the entire buffet and never have a change in their figure? They probably have a fast metabolism. People who struggle to lose weight might have a slower metabolism.

When people talk about wanting to speed up their metabolism, they’re usually referring to a desire to lose weight, or to feel more energetic and less tired during the day.

There are two main parts that make up metabolism: anabolism and catabolism. Anabolism is the constructive part, helping to grow new cells in your body and repair damaged tissue. Catabolism is the opposite —it’s what breaks down nutrients from foods into smaller parts to give you energy. It takes both of these processes to keep us alive and healthy.



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How does metabolism work?

There’s a certain amount of energy, or calories, your body uses up just by existing. Even if you were to lie perfectly still all day, your body would still be working hard and burning calories just to keep all your internal organs working. The amount of energy your body needs to keep functioning is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).

The thing is, most of us are pretty active during the day. This means we’re using even more energy on top of that base level, just by simply going to school, work, running errands, exercising, hitting the town, going for a walk, or out on a date. The amount of energy that all of this requires is known as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). You can find out your TDEE by plugging in some basic information about yourself here.

In the end, whether you gain or lose weight depends on if you’re eating more or less than your TDEE.

In a way, metabolism is like a car engine that is running all day, every day. In order for it to keep running, it needs gas in the tank. If you don’t put enough in, the car won’t run at all. If you put too much in, it’ll overflow. In your body, the “overflow” is what can make someone gain weight.


What can I do to rev up my metabolism?

Now that you understand that revving up your metabolism is similar to revving your car engine, here are a few things you can do to get it ramped up:

Healthy diet: Part of boosting your metabolism comes down to what kind of fuel you’re putting in the engine, so to speak. You know how fancy sports cars normally need high-quality gas like “Supreme” and “Premium?” Well, our bodies work the same way. Putting the right fuel in our bodies normally looks like eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and not overeating processed foods. 

Smaller, frequent meals: We all know that crash we get when it’s been a long time between lunch and dinner and we feel kind of sluggish. Sometimes breaking up 3 square meals into 5 or 6 smaller ones during the day can help keep your metabolism running so you feel energetic all day long.

Drink plenty of fluids: Drinking plenty of water not only keeps you hydrated, but it also keeps the metabolism process running smoothly. It can be easy to forget that our bodies are constantly working to keep us healthy, even if we’re not doing any kind of strenuous physical activity. Staying hydrated helps keep us going. 

Get moving: Exercise doesn’t only help ramp up your metabolism, but it also changes our moods and makes us feel better mentally. Even taking a short walk during the day can make a huge difference on the body, not to mention how much it can help if you’re dealing with stress, and let’s be real — who isn’t?

Continue rocking your HIV treatment: When you’re living with HIV, one of the most beneficial things you can do for your health is staying on top of your treatment. So if you’re already keeping up with your doctor visits and medications, you’re already rocking it! Keep it up!

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