There’s no end to online articles telling people how to manipulate their metabolism and give their bodies major boosts to promote weight loss — “Eat these, drink this, do that.” There are a handful of cheat codes repeated in click-bait articles. But can you really “reset” your metabolism?
The short answer: no.
Sara Jank, MS, RDN, CDN, is a clinical nutritionist at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center who helped put the idea of manipulating our metabolisms into perspective.
“There are some ways to kind of help your metabolism – I don’t even want to say ‘boost’ because that makes it sound like you’re making a much bigger difference than you are – but there are health behaviors you can implement that can help support your metabolism,” Jank said. “But that kind of resetting it or giving it a big boost isn’t really something that we see in the research.”
Measuring health is a very individualized thing, Jank says. In the same way, metabolism is also unique to each person. But there are certainly healthy habits everyone can implement to support their overall health and, in turn, support their metabolism. She offered a few tips for helping our metabolisms do their work, as well as a word of warning.
- Eat enough. “When you restrict your caloric intake, your body goes into a mode where it wants to hang on more,” Jank says. “Making sure that you’re actually eating enough is the first step to supporting your metabolism.” Now, “eating enough” is something that depends on your body’s individual needs. One thing that it definitely needs, though, is protein. That will also help with this next one.
- Build muscle. “If you’re able to do some strength training and building lean muscle, that’s going to help with metabolism. Again, not in any huge, significant proportions, but definitely a little bit,” Jank advises. “It’s going to help if you’re building muscle, getting exercise in and doing some higher-intensity exercises throughout the week.”
- Get enough sleep. “Making sure you get enough sleep and quality sleep is huge for a lot of your body’s functions and supporting your metabolism as well,” she adds. Most adults need about seven hours of sleep per night. There are plenty of sleep hygiene tips available to help ensure you’re getting the good rest your body needs.
- Stay hydrated. “Staying hydrated is something we always recommend,” Jank says. That’s something we’ve heard for years. Drinking enough water is critical for numerous aspects of your health, especially as you age. Just like sleep, there are tips and tricks for how to keep yourself hydrated available if you’re not sure how to begin.
“All of these things together are going to support your overall health, which is going to support your metabolism. But there’s no magic bullet here that’s going to reset your metabolism,” Jank says. She also issues a word of caution when searching online for ways to manipulate your metabolism: “I see a lot out there, too, about spicy foods or different specific herbals or specific ingredients. Nothing like that is going to give you a magic boost to your metabolism.”
These tips come with a warning against falling for pills, plans and supplements that could be useless or even harmful.
“Don’t spend your money on supplements or anything that’s claiming to boost your metabolism because it’s not going to have that effect,” Jank says. “Be aware of supplements that are stimulants; a lot of ‘metabolism-boosting’ things might have a lot of caffeine in them or different ingredients that in different amounts might be concerning for individuals depending on their own health needs.”
If you take care of your overall health, your metabolism will do its thing. If you’re concerned or unsure of what that means for you, consult your physician and/or dietician to get to the bottom of what your body needs from you to live your best life.