Have you ever wished you could press a “reset” button on your metabolism to improve your overall metabolic well-being? If so, you aren’t alone—according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, over 90% of Americans have suboptimal metabolic health!
If metabolic wellness is so elusive, what are we all doing wrong? And how can we take action to reset our metabolism and upgrade our whole-body health? Here, we’ve outlined seven healthy habits you can incorporate into your everyday routine to give your metabolism the reboot it needs to support you—today and well down the road.
What is metabolism?
Essentially, metabolism is the process in which your body turns what you eat (i.e., calories) into ATP energy. That ATP is then used to fuel:
- Complex, whole-body physiological functions (e.g., breathing, food digestion and nutrient absorption, blood circulation, etc.)
- Complex physiological reactions (e.g., RNA transcription, DNA synthesis, neuronal cell signaling in the brain)
- Actions that require more energy (e.g., physical activity, immune response, inflammatory balance)
What causes a slow or fast metabolism?
While we think of our metabolism as how quickly we metabolize food or burn calories, it’s so much more than that. In fact, when you hear someone saying they have a “fast” or “slow” metabolism, they’re really referring to their metabolic rate.
An individual’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories an individual needs to carry out basic physiological functions (again: breathing, digestion, blood circulation, etc.). Their resting metabolic rate (RMR), aka resting energy expenditure (REE), is the actual number of calories they burn at rest. A person with a “fast” metabolism has a higher REE than someone with a “slow” metabolism.
Now, before you get discouraged, it’s important to point out that your metabolic rate is influenced by a number of factors—some of which are fixed (e.g., genetics, biological sex, age) and many of which can be optimized (e.g., mitochondrial health, muscle mass, adiposity, insulin sensitivity, thyroid hormone health, nutrition, timing of meals, stress levels, sleep health, physical activity, and more).
How to reset your metabolism.
Like all aspects of wellness, there’s no magic solution to reset your metabolism (not in a push-a-button-and-poof!” kind of way, at least!). The only way to truly optimize your metabolic rate and effectively “rev up” your metabolism is to incorporate certain healthy habits and lifestyle changes into your everyday life.
Try implementing these changes into your daily and/or weekly routine—you’ll be surprised by how big a difference small, consistent healthy habits can make in your overall metabolic well-being!
Stay properly hydrated.
Yes, you really can start to reset your metabolism by simply drinking more H2O. Water is critical for metabolic reactions in your cells, from energy production and immune pathways, to hormone signaling and other essential physiological processes.
According to a 2016 Frontiers in Nutrition review, drinking water has also been shown to trigger water-induced thermogenesis—a process that can increase your metabolic rate by up to 30%1 for an hour. So, grab your favorite reusable water bottle and fill up!
Eat a balanced, nutritious diet.
It may seem obvious, but eating a whole foods-laden, nutrient-rich diet filled with healthy macro- and micronutrients is key to supporting a healthy metabolism.
Prioritizing complex carbs (e.g., whole grains, legumes, fruit, fibrous or starchy veggies), lean protein (e.g., fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, seeds), healthy fats (e.g., olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish), and lots and lots of plant foods (which are packed with fiber and phytonutrients), herbs, and spices in your daily snacks and meals will help promote satiety, blood sugar balance, healthy lipid levels, and fat metabolism.
Take a metabolism-supporting supplement.
For comprehensive and holistic metabolism support, consider adding a premium metabolism supplement like mindbodygreen’s metabolism+ to your daily routine.
This multidimensional formula features five clinically researched botanical extracts (capsaicin, veld grape, grains of paradise, and caffeine and EGCG from green tea) that have been shown to promote healthy weight and body composition, balance energy and appetite hormone levels, support energy expenditure, combat visceral fat accumulation, increase thermogenic calorie and fat burn, and enhance overall cardiometabolic health (including blood pressure, blood sugar, and lipid levels).*
Note: Nutritional strategies (like supplementation) are designed to be most effective when part of an overall healthy lifestyle that optimizes daily energy balance via mindful nutrition, physical activity, and other holistic well-being tips mentioned in this article.
Get your body moving.
The more you move, the better! This means adding workouts to your weekly routine, as well as taking small but intentional measures to increase your physical activity throughout the day (think: parking further from the store when running errands, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and getting up to stretch and move around in between work tasks at your desk).
When it comes to working out, be sure that some of your physical activity includes strength exercises that help build and preserve muscle—if you recall, your percentage of muscle mass directly impacts your metabolic rate (i.e., the higher your muscle mass, the more calories you expend while resting).
Integrative registered dietitian Whitney Crouch, RDN, CLT recommends lifting heavy weights two to three times a week. “Start with weights that feel like you're putting in effort (we're not talking circa 1980 Jazzercise!) and that you can still maintain good form while lifting,” she previously shared with mindbodygreen. “Then, work your way up over time with both the weight and frequency per week of your sessions, and work with a trainer if you're new to the lifting world and your budget allows."
Incorporating cardio into your weekly workout schedule is also key for metabolism support and overall longevity. You can help increase your heart rate and burn calories with both aerobic (running, walking, swimming, biking, hiking) and anaerobic (weightlifting, HIIT) activities.
Try fasting to give your cells a rest.
“As long as the person is not underweight or malnourished, the single most powerful intervention to improve metabolism is to go without food for a period of time—or, at least make your body think that it is," Harvard psychiatrist and author of Brain Energy, Chris Palmer, M.D., previously explained to mindbodygreen.
“You can think of these processes as a 'clean cycle' and a 'reboot' for your cells,” he says. “[Fasting] forces your body to burn fat, increase autophagy, and increase the health and number of mitochondria in your cells. All of these can have a powerful and beneficial effect on metabolism.”
It’s worth noting that fasting in any form can impact hormone levels, so be sure to do your own research (our comprehensive guide on intermittent fasting is a good place to start) and listen to your body—especially if you’re a woman!
Start a meditation practice.
In a 2018 CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics study, healthy adults saw an overall improvement in their metabolic profile (specifically, a significant decrease in total cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood glucose levels) after eight weeks of meditation.
This is because your stress (cortisol) levels can impact your metabolism. As such, researchers have found that introducing a mindfulness practice (such as meditation) can help decrease your baseline stress levels and support your overall metabolic well-being.
If you aren’t sure how, exactly, to start a meditation practice, you can check out our beginner’s guide here.
Improve your sleep health.
A quality sleep routine is absolutely essential for metabolic (and whole-body) wellness. In a 2021 observational study, better sleep health (i.e., superior regularity, satisfaction, alertness, timing, efficiency, and duration) was associated with greater weight and fat loss3 in adults with overweight or obesity.
Getting adequate shuteye every night helps your body combat oxidative stress, maintain hormone balance, and regulate a number of other metabolic processes. If you’re trying to completely reset and recharge your metabolism, upgrading your sleep routine is a great place to start.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to restore your metabolism and metabolic health?
Evidence suggests it takes approximately three months or longer to see significant changes in your metabolism.
Of course, this is variable based on an individual’s metabolic health factors (e.g., genes, biological sex, physical activity, nutrition, sleep health, etc.) and how many of the actions listed above are integrated into your regular routine. Like any aspect of health, the more small, consistent changes you make in your everyday life, the quicker you will see improvement in your metabolic well-being.
What foods restart your metabolism?
Incorporating more complex carbs (e.g., whole grains, legumes, fruit, fibrous or starchy veggies), lean protein (e.g., fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, seeds), healthy fats (e.g., olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish), and plant foods (which are packed with fiber and phytonutrients), herbs, and spices into your daily diet can help promote satiety, blood sugar balance, healthy lipid levels, and fat metabolism.
What nutrients and botanicals help speed up metabolism?
A number of supplement active ingredients (e.g., B vitamins, vitamin D, iron, magnesium, capsaicin, caffeine, EGCG) have been clinically shown to effectively “rev up” metabolism and provide metabolic support.* For more information on these ingredients (and others), check out our guide to metabolism-boosting supplements.
From fasting and nutritional strategies (like mindbodygreen’s metabolism+) to weightlifting and meditation, there are numerous ways you can optimize your metabolic and overall well-being.*
To truly reset and sustain your metabolism gains, try incorporating as many of these metabolic support habits as you’d like into your everyday routine.
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.