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Four Factors That Can Improve Your Metabolism

June 30, 2022

By: Kenlyn Young, LDN, MS, RD, Dietitian, Duke Integrative Medicine.

Metabolism is so confusing and frustrating, right? Common questions asked, “Why can’t I lose weight? Why is my metabolism so slow?”

In simple terms, “Metabolism is the internal process by which your body expends energy and burns calories. It runs 24/7 to keep your body moving, even when resting or sleeping, by converting the food and nutrients you consume into the energy your body needs to breathe, circulate blood, grow and repair cells, and everything else it does to survive.” 1

There is so much more to the adage: eat less, move more. Many factors influence our metabolism —some you can’t control (your genes), and others you can (what and how you eat). The good news is that we can take action to boost metabolism (to lose more fat) with food and other good habits.

Do you need ideas on how to build a Metabolism-Supporting Plate?

Download the Metabolism-Supporting Plate Guide

In addition, here are a few controllable factors to improve metabolism:

Get Sleep

Aim for seven hours a night; research shows that adequate sleep keeps our hunger and satiety hormones balanced. For example, ghrelin is the hormone that increases appetite and slows the amount of energy we burn. Not getting enough sleep leads to an increase in ghrelin production, leading to a slower metabolism.

Build Muscle

Muscle burns at a higher metabolic rate than fat. More muscle, less fat.

Consume Protein

Protein fuels our metabolism. Protein is needed to build muscle and maintain muscle mass.

Check Your Hormones

Our thyroid hormone, in particular, regulates metabolism, so if it is underperforming, our metabolism slows down, leading to fewer calories burned and weight gain.

Download the How to Support an Optimal Metabolism Guide


The truth About Metabolism – Harvard Health

About Duke Integrative Medicine Nutrition Counseling Services

Our licensed dietitians take a whole-person approach to your health while keeping the food you eat at the center of your care. Often, health concerns can be traced to a less-than-ideal diet or even a sensitivity to a certain type of food. Our personalized recommendations may include changes in food selection and/or preparation, strategies for developing menus, nutritional supplements, or techniques to help you become more aware of your eating habits.

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