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August 24, 2021

Understanding Metabolism

One of the most common questions that dietitians get from individuals trying to manage their weight is “how can I speed up my metabolism?” Because there are multiple factors that contribute to an individual’s metabolism, it is first important to understand what metabolism is and how it is controlled. Metabolism refers to the processes that occur in our bodies, from breathing to thinking to running – you name it! These processes require energy in the form of calories. This means that when someone has a “fast metabolism,” they require more calories than an individual with a “slow metabolism.”

There are multiple factors that can affect your metabolism, including:

  1. Age. Our metabolisms tend to slow down as we get older. This occurs because we move around less and have less muscle mass.
  2. Muscle mass. The amount of muscle we have affects our metabolisms. This is because muscle burns more calories than fat tissue, making it more “metabolically active.”
  3. Body size. The more an individual weighs, the more calories they tend to burn at rest.
  4. Environment. Colder temperatures may cause an increase in metabolism. This is a result of our bodies trying to keep us warm, which requires more work, and therefore burns more calories.
  5. Physical activity. Any type of movement that we do requires calories. When we move for longer durations of time or at higher intensities, our metabolisms tend to speed up because we need more energy to do these things.
  6. Hormones. Certain conditions such as hypothyroidism or menopause can slow down metabolism.
  7. Genetics. For reasons that aren’t easy to explain, some people are just born with a “faster” metabolism. Just because two people are the same exact size does not always mean that they will have similar metabolisms.


Although there are certain factors that we cannot control regarding our metabolic rates, there are a few things that have been shown to help increase metabolism. Individuals trying to speed their metabolisms can try:

  1. Strength training. As stated above, muscle is a very metabolically active tissue. This means that by building muscle, you can increase your metabolism and calories that you are burning at rest.
  2. Moving more. In general, the more active someone is throughout the day, the more calories they will burn. Even tasks such as laundry, vacuuming, and taking out the trash can help increase calorie burn.
  3. Don’t over-restrict your calories. Eating too little can cause a decrease in metabolism as our bodies’ way of protecting us from starvation.

As always, the most important thing to remember when trying to manage your weight is to be patient! It takes time and consistency to see changes in our bodies, especially when we are doing it in a healthy manner. It is great to focus on goals such as building strength and endurance rather than focus on the scale. To learn more about what you can do to have a positive impact on your health, make an appointment with an Avance Care Registered Dietitian. You can schedule online at or call (919) 237-1337, option 4 to schedule your appointment today.

Learn more about Avance Care’s nutrition team and book online today!

Bonnie is a registered dietitian at the North Raleigh location. In her free time, she enjoys exploring her home of Raleigh, NC and playing with her fur babies Nola and Wolfgang. She enjoys most sports and can often be found cheering on her NC State Wolfpack, Carolina Panthers, and Carolina Hurricanes.

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