How to improve metabolism and burn more fat

Speeding up the fat burning process is an efficient way of losing some weight. There are thousands of tiny little roads leading to Rome. These are a few of them that might be helpful when you’re looking to improve metabolism and burn more fat. 

When you increase your activity level your body is going to look for more fuel to get you through the activity. This fuel is measured in calories. Exercise expert and nutritionist Helene Høimyr describes calorie as the level of energy in foods measured by how much is released in the metabolic process. A calorie by definition is “the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of 1gram water with 1°C”. It might sound Greek but all in all it’s a measure for energy. This means that when you are looking to improve metabolism, you need to get down to a super basic level.

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What is metabolism, really?

The natural question to ask next is: what exactly is metabolism? NHI tells us that metabolism is the process our body goes through when “using nutrition to ensure energy supply and substances necessary for the body to function”. In other words, it is what happens when the body is making use of the nutrition it has been given.

The chemical reactions that make up your metabolism ensures that food is transformed into energy and that you are using that energy to everything from keeping your heart and lungs beating to making sure that annoying hair keeps growing in your nose no matter how many times you remove it. It is in the energy releasing process your body gets its fuel, and this is where stuff starts to happen when you are looking to tailor the consumption to start using more of the fat so that you can get rid of it.


Blame your parents

Finally, a scapegoat! Or is it? Your metabolism is highly determined by your genes. It’s commonly known that you inherit one set of genes from mom, and one set of genes from dad. Thereby, there is some truth in blaming your parents if you happen to have a so-called “bad” metabolism where the burning process is less efficient than desired. Unfortunately, your parents didn’t choose their genes from the local store shelves either, and so they don’t deserve having the full responsibility neither.

Luckily, it is possible to affect one’s own metabolism. When the body burns fat, it is digging into the already existing storage. This happens through a biochemical process where the large fat molecules are transformed to combustion energy. We separate the combustion or metabolism into three parts:

Your parents are to a certain degree to blame for your metabolism, if not undeservedly.


  1. Basal metabolism

This one is, surprisingly one may say, the number of calories burned by doing absolutely nothing. “Nothing” in this matter means simply keeping the basic functions going. It may seem like a true understatement calling running the entire machinery doing “nothing”. Your car probably wouldn’t run uphill without its engine either. Your boat wouldn’t sail without wind power or an engine running, and your dog would probably be somehow cold and stiff if nothing kept its blood pump going. Your basal metabolism actually accounts for as much as 60-70% of your total calorie burn and is therefore quite an important “nothing” to take into consideration when examining how to improve metabolism!

improve your metabolism through diet and exercise
Increased basal metabolic rate will make you burn more calories also when doing “nothing”.


  1. Digestive metabolism

The food you consume doesn’t walk untouched into the chamber of metabolism. It has to undergo a couple transforming processes going from being a shiny apple to bring energy to your cells to keep them dividing to make you stay young and, well, alive. The digestive process turns carbs into sugar and proteins into amino acids. It counts for about 10-15% of your daily calorie burn.

improve your metabolism and burn more calories
Digesting accounts for about 10-15% of your daily calorie burn.


  1. Exercise and movement metabolism

The last 15-30% of your metabolism is then distributed to exercise and movement. That’s really not a lot, is it? It might be surprising that as much as 85% of your calorie burn is attributable to factors you don’t really control (well, you kinda do. Increased maximal oxygen consumption also increases the basal metabolism, and the maximum oxygen consumption can be affected by exercise. But that’s another story!). But it is really here, amongst the 15-30%, that you may make a difference to improve metabolism.

improve metabolism through exercise
Exercise and movement will affect your daily energy consumption. However, the real effect is surprisingly enough not found during the exercise itself.


Improve metabolism by closing the door to the fat

Oh, how easy it would have been if one could simply close the door to keep the fat away! Actually, it would have been a bit scary. The body is dependent on fat to function. It is when it gets too much of the good stuff that challenges arise. Yep! It’s the evergoing “more energy in than out”. Balance in calories going in vs. calories going out.

Fat is a social type of molecules happy to invite friends and family to a never-ending, great party. There is nothing they enjoy more than to just chill and hang out, except for inviting more likeminded. That doesn’t go very well with improving your metabolism now, does it?

What fat does is to minimize calorie burn. The fat is too lazy to use energy and would rather just sink deeper into your inner couch spending as few calories as it possibly can. This means that the more coach potatoes aka fat molecules you’ve got, the less the collective fat burning process they carry out. On the other hand, if you have a muscle or two, these will spend three times the calories. And that’s the solution right there: muscles!


Increase your muscle mass to improve metabolism

Your muscles aren’t just there for that one hour you spend at the gym, or the 30 minutes you run in circles at the running track. They don’t disappear as quickly as the bugs from the waterside when you finally close the door behind you after a high-intensity workout by the forest. They stay with you through the day as loyal as the mosquito a hot summer night.

This means that your muscles greatly affect the basal metabolism as well. You might remember just how important this “nothing” was? Yep. As much as 70% of your total calorie burn. What about an extra round of exercise and movement this week, to improve metabolism through every hour of the remaining days?