If you want to burn fat and get lean, people often say:
- Eat less
- Move more
- A combination of the two
The idea is that if your daily metabolism is 2,100 calories, and you eat less—say 1,800 calories—then you’d burn fat.
Moving more, like walking or running, would burn even more calories.
Perhaps that’d bump you up to 2250 daily calories. (An intense 30-minute Bodypump class only burns 150 calories, the equivalent of a cookie.)
But what if you could bump up your daily metabolism to 2500 calories without having to do intense cardio?
Wouldn’t that make fat-loss way easier?
And staying lean all year round?
And what if this technique of boosting your metabolism also made you stronger and more muscular?
A 2020 paper titled “Decreasing human body temperature in the United States since the Industrial Revolution” wrote:
“In the US, the normal, oral temperature of adults is, on average, lower than the canonical 37°C established in the 19th century.”
We’re no longer the famous 98.6F.
As a society of people, we’re getting colder by each passing decade.
“Resting metabolic rate is the largest component of a typical modern human’s energy expenditure, comprising around 65% of daily energy expenditure for a sedentary individual.
Heat is a byproduct of metabolic processes, the reason nearly all warm-blooded animals have temperatures within a narrow range despite drastic differences in environmental conditions.”
So our metabolism is what keeps us warm.
And our metabolism is dropping. (For both men and women.)
A 2015 paper on the accuracy of metabolism predictions wrote:
“[Resting-rate metabolism] is mostly dependent on the amount of metabolically active tissue in an individual; mainly muscle mass.”
The single biggest contributor to metabolism is muscle.
This is a key reason people complain of their metabolism dropping after 30—because age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia) can begin that early unless you decide to do something about it.
You and I can both see that our society as a collective is getting weaker.
I covered this in our article on average man strength.
Millennial men today are 16% weaker compared to men of the same age in 1985. That’s a huge drop for just a few decades.
So the best way to rev up your metabolism, and keep it high as you age, is to build muscle and maintain it.
The most predictable way of doing this is through resistance training—like lifting weights.
Lifting weights + metabolic rate
In a 2014 paper, lifting weights for only nine months made people’s metabolism increase by anywhere from 70–150 calories a day.
One part of that was explained by building more muscle (over 6 pounds).
One part was due to thyroid and other bodily improvements.
And one part was by what they ate.
This is where we get to the fun part.
Diet-induced thermogenesis or DIT
DIT is our body’s metabolic response to food.
Our body will spend more energy and generate heat, trying to break down the food to get access to the nutrients. (Source)
- Protein has a DIT effect of between 15–30%
- Carbohydrates have a DIT of 5-10%
- Fats take very little energy to break down, and the DIT is 0–3%
In a 2000 study, researchers found that eating a 29% protein diet had their metabolism bump up 212 calories compared to an 11% protein diet—on the exact same amount of calories.
That means those who eat more protein had their metabolism increase, just by eating the right type of food.
Over a week, that could total up to nearly 1500 more calories burnt off through heat!
On top of that, the higher the DIT level of a food—often, the more satisfying and filling it is.
So by eating a high-protein diet, you can increase your metabolism and eat less energy naturally because you’re full and satisfied.
And to make things even crazier (!), the more protein you eat, the more muscle mass you’ll build.
- More muscle = higher metabolism
- More lifting = more muscle = higher metabolism
- More protein = more muscle = higher motabolism
- More protein = more DIT = higher motabolism
The higher your metabolism?
- the more total food you can eat without getting fat
- the more food you can eat—the more nutrients you get, and the healthier you’ll be
- the more full and satisfied you’ll feel
High protein prevents metabolism crashes
Lastly, a 2020 study found that high-protein diets seem to prevent the metabolism from slowing down as you eat in a calorie deficit.
Normally, when people diet, their metabolism slows to a crawl.
But this is the body protecting the organs from damage—as most people eat *less* food—causing them to eat less protein, which shrinks their organs. (Article: The reason why people gain the weight back)
If you eat a high-protein diet, your metabolism can stay high, because your organs won’t shrink.
This makes your calorie deficit easy to maintain over several months = more predictable fat loss.
Eating more lean protein, like meat, is a powerful cycle to continually become stronger and leaner. (Not to mention, incredibly healthy, as it helps with depression and anxiety, 2020 study)
Just be sure to pair meat with your favourite veggies, herbs, and spices for some fibre and anti-inflammatory effects.
Ideally, you’ll want to mix up that muscle meat occasionally with some organ meats (liver, heart, etc.) and bone broth/marrow for a more complete nutrient balance. (Glycine, vitamin A, b-vitamins like folate, etc.)
NERD NOTE: on metabolism and circadian rhythms: DIT is 2.5x higher when eating breakfast compared to dinner (2020 study). Theoretically, you could have a much higher metabolism by eating bigger breakfasts and smaller dinners with no late-night snack.
The problem with eating more calories at breakfast is that while it’s better aligned to the sun and our own activity levels/energy, is that it’s misaligned to our modern-day lifestyles of getting together for big late-night dinners. (Friends, Thanksgiving, parties, etc.) Ultimately, if you have complete control over your lifestyle, it might be better to eat big meals earlier in the day and taper off calories as the day goes on. (Sometimes called early time-restricted feeding or eTRF.)
Eating more protein like lean meats and lifting weights will:
- Build more muscle mass—revving your metabolism
- Improve thyroid and other processes—revving your metabolism
- Increase diet-induced thermogenesis—revving your metabolism
And that will allow you to:
- Eat more total food while getting leaner more easily and more predictably
If you want to learn about how to put this into action, burn fat and build muscle, you can check out the True Gains program. Here’s a quick update from one of our clients using this program—absolutely crushing it.
He had been lifting for a couple of years before. After just eight weeks of diligently putting the work in—he’s down 10.5 pounds and 3.25 inches in the waist—while hitting new personal records in the gym.