Metabolism boosters: Types, benefits, side effects, how to choose

Metabolism. It’s a term we hear thrown around quite often, especially in the context of weight loss and fitness. Is it a friend, foe, or something in between? 

To some, the miraculous mechanism enables them to eat burgers and fries without gaining a pound. To others, it’s a treacherous entity that inexplicably slows down and piles on the pounds despite careful diet and exercise.

What if you could control your metabolism and steer it toward your desired goals? Enter metabolism boosters, promising to rev up your metabolic engine. Do they work? How do they influence the complex biological process of metabolism?

This comprehensive guide explains how it works and goes into the intriguing world of metabolism boosters. We’ll explore the science behind these enhancers, exploring their efficacy, mechanisms, and potential side effects.

What is metabolism?

Metabolism is like the engine that powers your body. Imagine your body as a complex, highly efficient machine—every function requires energy, from thinking to blinking. 

This intricate biological process involves a series of chemical reactions that convert the food you eat into the energy your body needs to survive.

Think of metabolism as a two-part process. First, it breaks down the food you consume, transforming proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into a form of energy known as Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). 

Simultaneously, it’s also involved in constructing or synthesizing complex molecules, which the body uses for various essential functions.

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2 Types of metabolism

To further break it down, metabolism consists of two main categories: catabolism and anabolism [1].

Catabolism

Also known as destructive metabolism, catabolism is the process that breaks down complex molecules into simpler ones, releasing energy. 

This part of metabolism is responsible for turning food into usable energy. When people refer to “burning calories,” they talk about catabolism.

Anabolism

Anabolism, on the other hand, is constructive metabolism. It utilizes energy to build more complex molecules from simpler ones, aiding in growth, cell repair, and maintenance. 

It’s the process that allows your body to build muscle, store energy, and maintain cell health.

Metabolism is a delicate balance between these two processes—catabolism breaking things down to release energy and anabolism using that energy to build up the body’s structures. 

What are metabolism boosters? 

These are substances often found in certain foods and supplements, which claim to increase your metabolic rate and help your body burn calories more efficiently.

Metabolism boosters come in many forms—some are naturally occurring substances found in foods and drinks, while others are manufactured and sold as supplements. 

Its goal is to increase your metabolic rate, meaning the number of calories your body burns in a given timeframe. 

According to the theory, losing or maintaining a healthy weight becomes easier when you burn more calories.

What are metabolism boosters? 

Types of metabolism boosters

The world of metabolism boosters is vast and varied. Some examples include:

  • Caffeine: Found in coffee and tea, caffeine temporarily boosts metabolism by stimulating the nervous system, thereby increasing the calorie burn rate.
  • Green tea extracts: Extracts, known as catechins, are believed to enhance metabolic function and increase fat oxidation.
  • Capsaicin: This component gives chili peppers their heat and promotes fat burning by boosting your metabolism.
  • Protein: The body uses more energy to digest protein than fats and carbohydrates, a phenomenon known as the thermic effect of food (TEF).

In addition, a wide range of over-the-counter pills and supplements claim to boost metabolism. 

Moreover, it is essential to note that the quality and safety of these products can significantly differ. Conduct thorough research and seek advice from a healthcare professional before using them.

How do metabolism boosters work?

Metabolism boosters claim to enhance your metabolic rate, but how exactly do they achieve this? They primarily operate through several key mechanisms: thermogenesis, appetite suppression, and enhanced digestion.

Thermogenesis 

Thermogenesis is the body’s metabolic process that produces heat [2]. During this process, energy is used to generate heat in response to various triggers like exercise, cold exposure, and certain foods or beverages. 

Metabolism boosters that promote thermogenesis, like capsaicin from chili peppers and catechins from green tea, stimulate this heat production, which burns more calories and potentially contributes to weight loss.

Appetite suppression

Some metabolism boosters work on the principle of appetite suppression. They can help control food intake and create a calorie deficit essential for weight loss by making you feel full. 

Fiber, for instance, bulks up in the stomach, creating a feeling of fullness. Thus, consuming high-fiber foods or supplements may naturally decrease calorie consumption and boost metabolism.

Enhanced digestion

Finally, some metabolism boosters work by enhancing your digestion process. Better digestion means nutrients from food are more efficiently broken down and absorbed, leaving fewer excess calories to be stored as fat. 

For instance, digestive enzymes, which are proteins that speed up chemical reactions in the body, can be used to aid digestion and thus potentially boost metabolism.

These various mechanisms offer insight into how metabolism boosters claim to function. However, it’s important to note that their effectiveness varies and are not a ‘one size fits all’ solution. 

The impact of these boosters can differ based on individual factors like age, weight, gender, and overall health.

Do metabolism boosters actually work? 

The effectiveness of metabolism boosters is a hot topic of discussion among experts, and it’s essential to rely on scientific evidence when assessing their impact. 

Some boosters, like caffeine and green tea extracts, have a solid backing in the scientific literature [3]. Numerous studies suggest that they can marginally increase metabolic rate and fat oxidation.

For instance, green tea, rich in antioxidants known as catechins, has been shown in some studies to enhance fat burning and increase metabolic rate slightly. Similarly, caffeine’s thermogenic properties can potentially boost metabolism and increase fat burning. 

However, individuals’ reactions to these substances can vary, and the overall effects on weight loss might be relatively small.

On the other hand, many supplements marketed as metabolism boosters lack concrete scientific evidence to support their claims. They often rely on ingredients with limited or conflicting research regarding their efficacy in boosting metabolism or aiding weight loss.

How does lifestyle affect metabolism?

While metabolism boosters can potentially give your metabolic rate a slight bump, they can’t compensate for an unhealthy lifestyle. Lifestyle factors like diet, physical activity, sleep, and stress management significantly affect your metabolic health.

For example, regular physical activity, particularly strength training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT), can boost metabolism by building muscle mass and burning calories even at rest [4]. 

Eating a well-balanced diet that includes proteins, fiber, and healthy fats can assist in keeping your metabolism healthy. Getting enough quality sleep and managing stress are also crucial for optimal metabolic function [5].

In essence, the effectiveness of metabolism boosters is influenced by many factors, and they should not be considered a standalone solution for weight loss or health improvement. 

Instead, they could serve as potential aids in a broader lifestyle approach that includes a balanced diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and stress management.

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How do metabolism boosters compare to other weight loss methods?

The weight loss industry offers various strategies, tools, and products, all claiming to help achieve weight loss goals.

Among these are metabolism boosters, designed to increase the rate at which your body burns calories. But how do these supplements compare to other weight loss methods?

Let’s break it down.

Diet and exercise

These two are the cornerstone of weight loss. By creating a calorie deficit—burning more calories than you consume—you encourage your body to use stored fat for energy, leading to weight loss. 

Metabolism boosters can potentially enhance this process by increasing your metabolic rate, but they cannot replace the foundational role of a balanced diet and regular physical activity.

Weight loss medications

Prescription weight loss medications are typically reserved for individuals with significant weight issues or related health problems. They work in various ways, from suppressing appetite to blocking fat absorption. 

While some metabolism boosters may offer similar benefits, like appetite suppression, they are usually not as potent as prescription medications.

Surgical interventions

Weight loss surgeries, like gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy, alter the digestive system to limit food intake or absorption. These procedures can lead to substantial weight loss but come with potential risks and side effects. 

Metabolism boosters, on the other hand, don’t require invasive procedures and usually have fewer side effects, but their weight loss potential is generally lower.

Behavioral changes

Lifestyle and behavioral changes, like getting adequate sleep, reducing stress, and breaking unhealthy habits, can significantly impact weight loss. 

Metabolism boosters don’t directly influence these areas but can complement these strategies by possibly enhancing metabolic function.

What to look for in metabolism boosters?

The market is saturated with products that claim to boost your metabolism and accelerate weight loss. But how do you sift through the hype and make an informed decision? 

Here are some key factors to consider when choosing metabolism boosters.

Ingredients

Look for products containing substances with scientifically proven metabolic benefits, like green tea extract, caffeine, or capsaicin [6]. 

However, beware of complex formulations with a multitude of unrecognizable components. Also, check for potential allergens if you have any specific dietary restrictions or allergies.

Claims

Be wary of products making grandiose or too-good-to-be-true claims. A supplement that promises to drastically increase your metabolism or cause rapid weight loss without any dietary changes or physical activity should be treated with caution. 

Remember, there’s no magic pill for weight loss or health improvement—it takes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and overall healthy lifestyle habits.

Reviews and reputation

Dig a little deeper into the product’s reputation. Look for customer reviews, both positive and negative, and consider the overall reputation of the company. 

Brands that are transparent about their ingredients, sourcing, and manufacturing processes are usually more reliable.

Third-party testing

Look for products that have been tested by a third party. This testing can provide extra assurance that the product contains what it says it does and doesn’t contain harmful contaminants.

Consultation with a healthcare provider

Always consult a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions or are taking other medications.

What are the benefits of metabolism boosters?

Metabolism boosters, also known as metabolic enhancers, come with various potential benefits. 

Here’s a rundown of some of the advantages they might offer, keeping in mind that the results can significantly vary based on individual differences and the type and quality of the booster.

1. Enhances metabolic rate

The primary and most obvious benefit of metabolism boosters is the potential increase in metabolic rate. A more efficient metabolism means the body can process nutrients quicker and burn calories faster, which may aid in weight management or loss.

2. Increases energy levels

Many metabolism boosters contain stimulants, like caffeine, which can potentially increase energy levels. This heightened energy can lead to improved performance in physical activities and workouts, promoting increased calorie burn and further supporting weight management goals.

3. Helps in weight loss

When combined with a balanced diet and regular physical activity, some metabolism boosters might aid in weight loss. They can help create a more substantial calorie deficit needed for weight loss [7]. It’s important to note that metabolism boosters alone aren’t a magic weight loss solution but can act as a tool within a broader weight loss plan.

helps in weight loss

4. Controls appetite

Certain metabolism boosters may have appetite-suppressing properties. By helping you feel fuller for longer, they can assist in reducing calorie intake and promoting weight loss. This could be particularly beneficial for those struggling with portion control or frequent snacking.

5. Enhances thermogenesis

Some metabolism boosters promote thermogenesis, the process by which the body burns calories to produce heat. 

This can contribute to a slightly higher metabolic rate and increased calorie burn, potentially supporting weight loss efforts.

6 Ways to increase your metabolism naturally

Metabolism is affected by numerous factors, many of which are out of your control, such as age, genetics, and body composition. 

However, you can boost your metabolism naturally through a few key lifestyle changes. Here are some strategies to help ramp up your metabolic rate.

1. Engage in regular physical activities

Exercise plays a vital role in enhancing metabolism. Regular physical activity helps build lean muscle mass, and muscle burns more calories than fat, even at rest. Combine aerobic exercises like jogging or cycling with resistance training for maximum metabolic benefits.

2. Try High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High-intensity interval training involves short bursts of intense exercises and short recovery periods. Studies have shown that HIIT can significantly boost your metabolic rate, not just during the workout but for hours afterward.

3. Stay hydrated

Water is essential for the smooth functioning of your metabolic processes. Staying well-hydrated can help your body burn calories more efficiently. 

Moreover, drinking cold water can cause your body to use more calories to warm it to body temperature, thereby boosting your metabolism.

4. Consume a protein-rich diet

Eating protein-rich foods can induce a process called the thermic effect of food (TEF), where your body burns more calories digesting food. Since proteins take longer to digest than fats and carbs, they can boost your metabolism.

5. Get adequate sleep

Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep can slow down your metabolism and negatively affect your body’s insulin sensitivity and hunger hormones, leading to potential weight gain.

6. Avoid long periods of sitting

Even if you’re exercising regularly, sitting for long periods can hinder your metabolic rate. Try incorporating more movement into your day by taking regular breaks to stretch or walk around.

These strategies won’t turn your body into a calorie-burning furnace overnight but can help optimize your metabolic health over time. Remember, it’s all about making consistent, sustainable changes to your lifestyle rather than seeking quick fixes.

What are the potential side effects of metabolism boosters?

Like any supplement or medication, metabolism boosters can have potential side effects. While these vary depending on the individual and the specific booster, some common side effects can include:

Jitteriness and anxiety

Many metabolism boosters contain stimulants like caffeine, which can cause some individuals jitteriness, nervousness, and anxiety. These symptoms can be especially pronounced in people sensitive to caffeine or taking high doses.

Sleep disturbances

The stimulants in metabolism boosters can interfere with sleep, leading to insomnia or poor sleep quality. This is particularly true if these supplements are taken later in the day.

Digestive issues

Some individuals may experience digestive issues like nausea, upset stomach, or diarrhea when taking metabolism boosters, particularly when starting a new supplement regimen.

Increased heart rate and blood pressure

Certain metabolism boosters, especially those containing stimulants, can raise heart rate and blood pressure. This can be a concern for individuals with heart conditions or high blood pressure.

May interact with medications

Metabolism boosters can interact with certain medications, including blood thinners, heart medications, and antidepressants. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement if you’re taking prescription medications.

While some people may experience these side effects, others may tolerate metabolism boosters without issues. Starting with a lower dose is important to assess your tolerance and adjust as necessary. 

And remember, while metabolism boosters may offer some benefits, they should be part of a comprehensive health and fitness plan that includes a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and adequate sleep.

Closing thoughts

Metabolism boosters have garnered significant attention in weight loss and fitness, offering a range of potential benefits from increased energy levels to a heightened metabolic rate. 

However, they are not a magic bullet for weight loss or health improvement. The best way to support metabolism is through a balanced diet, regular physical activity, adequate hydration, and sufficient sleep.

While metabolism boosters can potentially support your health and fitness goals, they should be part of a comprehensive, sustainable lifestyle approach. Your overall health and well-being should always precede quick fixes and grandiose promises.

Remember, it’s not about revamping your life overnight; it’s about making small, consistent changes that add up over time to create a healthier and happier you. 

A healthy metabolism is integral to this journey, not a destination. Stay informed, consistent, and focused on your goals—you’ve got this!

FAQs

What age is metabolism slowest?

Metabolism typically slows down as you age, with most people experiencing a significant decline from the mid-30s to early 40s. This is due to factors like muscle mass decrease and lifestyle changes. The decline rate can vary based on individual genetics, diet, and physical activity levels.

Which drink is best for metabolism?

Green tea is often touted as one of the best drinks for metabolism due to its rich content of antioxidants known as catechins, which can enhance fat burning and boost metabolic rate. Staying well-hydrated with water can support efficient metabolic function and even slightly increase your metabolic rate.

Why is my metabolism so low?

A slow metabolism can be influenced by age, genetics, and lifestyle. Lack of physical activity, poor diet, inadequate hydration, and low muscle mass are common lifestyle-related causes that can decrease metabolic rates.

How do I know if my metabolism is boosting?

A boosted metabolism can lead to higher energy, a sensation of warmth from burning more calories, and possibly weight or body shape changes. However, these signs can differ from person to person and may be influenced by other factors, so it’s advisable to seek a healthcare provider’s guidance to assess your metabolic health correctly.

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[1] https://chem.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Biological_Chemistry/Supplemental_Modules_(Biological_Chemistry)/Metabolism 
[2] https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolism-boosters-weight-loss
[3] https://www.builtlean.com/metabolism-boosters-work/ 
[4] https://www.builtlean.com/metabolism-boosters-work/
[5] https://fitonapp.com/wellness/slow-metabolism/
[6] https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolism-boosters-weight-loss
[7] https://www.farrinstitute.org/metabolism-boosters/

The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.