Metabolic Enhancers

Metabolic Enhancers to Help Boost Your Metabolism

Dr. Jolene BrightenPublished: Last Reviewed: Wellbeing Leave a Comment

If you're looking to lose weight and keep it off for good, simply cutting calories likely won't be enough to help you maintain a lean, strong, healthy body composition long-term. You also need to stoke your body's “metabolic fire” in order to become a more efficient fat burner, which makes you less likely to gain body fat and lose muscle mass with age. 

Your metabolism is the complex biochemical process that converts food into energy that's used to fuel your body's functions. By making strategic diet, exercise, lifestyle, and supplement choices, you can maximize your metabolic rate and accelerate fat loss over the long run.

In this article, discover metabolic boosters specifically tailored to women, including those that support hormonal balance and insulin sensitivity, build lean muscle mass, and assist in quality sleep. Learn how to incorporate metabolism enhancers into your routine, such as:

  • Strength-training
  • High protein diet
  • Adequate sleep (7-9 hours per night) 
  • Saunas sessions and cold exposure
  • Supplements such as green tea, chromium, L-carnitine, capsaicin, resveratrol, and others

What is a Metabolism Booster and How Do They Work 

Metabolism boosters or metabolic enhancers are any substances, foods, supplements, or practices that can potentially increase the amount of calories and fat your body burns through its metabolic processes. 

Some of these ingredients and habits help you use up more calories, such as by creating heat (a process called thermogenesis), while others reduce your appetite, increase energy expenditure, or help build muscle mass, which uses more calories than body fat.

Metabolic processes are the biochemical reactions that occur within the body's cells to convert the nutrients from food into energy. These chemical reactions allow organisms to grow, reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to environmental influences.

What determines your metabolic rate? 

There are several factors that contribute to a woman’s metabolic rate, which include hormones, age, body composition, and more.

Your metabolism is influenced by:

  • Age: Metabolism typically starts to slow down gradually after the age of 30. However, the most significant decline in metabolic rate often occurs around the age of 40 or 50 and continues to decline slowly but gradually each decade after that. This metabolic slowdown is primarily due to the natural loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia) that occurs with aging, as well as hormonal changes that can cause increased body fat. This is one reason you’ll see metabolic boosters for women focus on maintaining or gaining muscle mass. 
  • Body composition: People with a higher muscle mass generally have a higher metabolic rate compared to those with a higher percentage of body fat. Strength training is one of the best metabolism enhancers for this reason.
  • Physical activity: Exercise and physical activity can increase metabolic rate by building muscle mass and increasing energy expenditure.
  • Diet: The composition of the diet, particularly the balance of macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats), can affect metabolic rate.
  • Genetics: Inherited genetic factors can influence metabolic rate and the efficiency of energy utilization.
  • Environmental temperature: Exposure to cold temperatures can increase metabolic rate as the body works to generate heat and maintain core body temperature.
  • Hormonal imbalances: Conditions such as thyroid disorders, diabetes, PCOS, or other endocrine disorders and hormonal imbalances can affect hormone levels and consequently impact metabolic rate.
  • Stress levels: Chronic stress triggers increased cortisol, a hormone that can slow metabolism and promote abdominal fat storage.

Metabolic boosters for women often take into consideration the above factors, which we will discuss shortly. 

Connection Between Hormones and Metabolism

There is a close connection between hormones and metabolism. Hormones play a crucial role in regulating metabolic processes in the body, including the breakdown of nutrients for energy (catabolism) and the synthesis of new molecules (anabolism).

Because hormones play such a central role in women’s body composition and metabolism, you’ll find metabolic boosters for women will often include strategies for optimizing them.

Here are some key ways hormones influence metabolism:

  • Thyroid hormones: Thyroid hormones, such as thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), are essential for regulating metabolic rate. They stimulate cellular metabolism and increase the rate of calorie burning, thereby influencing body weight and energy expenditure.
  • Insulin: Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that plays a crucial role in glucose (sugar) metabolism. It facilitates the uptake of glucose by cells, where it is used for energy production or stored as glycogen or fat. Insulin also regulates the metabolism of proteins and fats.
  • Growth hormone: Growth hormone, secreted by the pituitary gland, promotes protein synthesis and enhances the utilization of fats for energy, thereby increasing metabolic rate.
  • Cortisol: Cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal glands, plays a role in glucose metabolism and the breakdown of proteins and fats for energy, particularly during times of stress or fasting.
  • Leptin and adiponectin: These hormones are produced by adipose tissue (fat cells) and are involved in regulating appetite, energy expenditure, and insulin sensitivity, thereby indirectly affecting metabolism.
  • Testosterone: Testosterone is important for building and maintaining muscle mass. However, higher levels of testosterone in postmenopausal women is associated with increased risk of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, in which central obesity is a part of.

How does menopause affect metabolism?

Menopause, which typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, can significantly impact a woman's metabolism. During perimenopause and then menopause, the ovaries gradually stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone, leading to several metabolic changes:

  • Decreased estrogen levels can cause a shift in body fat distribution, leading to increased abdominal fat accumulation, which is associated with a slower metabolism.
  • Loss of muscle mass and decreased physical activity levels during menopause can further contribute to a slower metabolism.
  • Fluctuations in hormone levels, such as testosterone and growth hormone, can also affect metabolic rate.
  • Decreased estrogen levels also result in decreased dopamine and serotonin production, which can affect motivation.
  • Declining estrogen can affect microbial diversity, resulting in a reduction, which can also impact weight and belly fat or central adiposity..

As a result of these changes, many women experience weight gain and a slower metabolism during perimenopause and after menopause.

Metabolic Boosting Supplements

While no pill can compensate for poor diet and lack of exercise, some supplements show potential for enhancing your body's fat-burning ability, supporting muscle health, and providing your body with what you need to maintain healthy hormones. Below are supplements for metabolic increase that may help you in your routine.

Green Tea Extract

Green tea, as well as green tea extract and green tea coffee bean extract, is rich in antioxidants called catechins, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which can boost metabolism and increase fat burning. It may also help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.

Chromium 

Chromium is an essential mineral that enhances the action of insulin, which plays a crucial role in metabolizing carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It may help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.

You'll find chromium in both my Thyroid Support and Myo-Inositol Plus formula. 

Thyroid Support also contains non-stimulating adaptogenic herbs like American ginseng and essential vitamins and minerals, which together help maintain healthy thyroid hormone production. 

The Myo-Inositol Plus formula contains both myo-inositol and d-chiro inositol to support blood glucose, along with healthy insulin and testosterone levels. 

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) 

CLA is a type of fatty acid that may help reduce body fat and promote lean muscle mass, potentially increasing metabolic rate. It may also have anti-inflammatory effects.

L-Carnitine

L-carnitine is an amino acid that transports fatty acids into the mitochondria (the powerhouses of cells) for energy production. It may enhance fat metabolism and improve energy levels and exercise performance.

Capsaicin 

Capsaicin is the compound that gives chili peppers their heat. It has been shown to slightly increase metabolic rate and fat oxidation by stimulating the release of heat-generating proteins in the body. Consumption of capsaicinoid-containing foods, such as peppers, has been associated with a lower incidence of obesity.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol, a natural compound found in certain foods like grapes and red wine, has been shown to activate enzymes that play a role in cellular metabolism. By activating these enzymes, resveratrol may enhance the body's ability to metabolize fats and carbohydrates, potentially leading to increased energy expenditure and improved metabolic function.

Resveratrol is one of the key ingredients in Balance Women’s Hormone Support, along with other nutrients and herbs to support optimal estrogen and progesterone levels.

Caffeine 

Caffeine is a stimulant that can temporarily increase metabolic rate and energy expenditure due to its thermic (heating) effects. It may also enhance fat oxidation and improve exercise performance. However, it’s important to keep in mind that caffeine can disrupt sleep, contribute to anxiety, and have other negative effects so use caution. It is also possible to experience a caffeine overdose with high levels, often a result of energy drink consumption or caffeine pill use.

Caffeine is found not only in coffee and tea but also in drinks like guarana and yerba mate (be sure to consume unsweetened versions for the greatest effects).

Keep in mind that while many supplements can be beneficial for your weight, energy level, and metabolism, they're intended to be layered on top of a healthy lifestyle, exercise routine, and nutrition plan. No single supplement can promise weight loss or replace the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Always discuss new supplements with your doctor, especially if you're taking medications or have a known health condition. Ask for their guidance on dosing since potency varies by product, and interactions with some medications can potentially occur.

Best Metabolic Enhancers to Include In Your Diet

What you eat has a profound impact on your metabolic rate and fat-burning ability. Following a low-calorie diet that's too restrictive can actually slow your metabolism as your body tries to conserve energy. Instead, emphasize metabolism-boosting foods and nutrients.

If you need extra guidance, you can grab my free recipe guide and meal plan here that is aimed at supporting your hormone and metabolic health.

Lean Proteins With Every Meal

Protein has a higher thermic (heating) effect than fats or carbs, meaning your body burns more calories digesting it. Protein also helps preserve metabolism-revving lean muscle mass during weight loss, helping to keep your daily calorie burning at a higher level. 

To start your day off on the right foot, include 30+ grams of protein in a healthy breakfast, and then have more with every meal, aiming for about 100+ grams per day. Good sources of protein include chicken, turkey, lean beef, fish, eggs, and plant proteins like lentils and quinoa. 

Healthy Fats

While low-fat diets were popular in the past, getting adequate healthy fats from sources like olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish is essential for maintaining a healthy metabolic rate. 

Fats are satiating, help with the absorption of essential vitamins, and assist in hormone production, all of which are needed for a healthy body composition.

You’ll find more info about the best fats for hormones here.

25+ Grams of Fiber

Eating plenty of high-fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes helps release fullness hormones that regulate your appetite while also aiding in gut health that's linked to a healthy metabolism. 

Fiber is an important part of a diet for PCOS and is linked to general health among older adults when it comes from a variety of nutritious plant foods. To meet your needs, aim for at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day.

You can read about specific prebiotic fibers to support gut health here.

Hydration 

Even mild dehydration can potentially impair your metabolism, so drink plenty of fluids, especially water, unsweetened herbal teas, broths, and seltzer.

Including electrolytes can also be helpful. Here’s my favorite sugar-free electrolytes.

Exercises to Build Muscle and Burn Fat

Both cardiovascular exercise and strength training are crucial for stoking your metabolism due to how they help build muscle, fight inflammation, support hormonal balance (including insulin sensitivity), and promote fat loss. 

Here's more about the best types of exercise for a healthy metabolism:

  • Aerobic Exercise: Workouts like brisk walking, running, cycling, and swimming help maintain a healthy body fat percentage. They're also great for reducing stress and promoting restorative sleep, which aids in metabolic health.
  • Strength Training: Resistance training is key for building and preserving metabolism-boosting lean muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns at rest. Aim for 2-3 strength sessions per week using weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises.
  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Short bursts of intense exercise—like sprints, using a rowing machine, bike, or battle ropes—followed by recovery periods have been shown to trigger an impressive afterburn effect, boosting metabolism for up to 24 hours post-workout.

For more information about working out during the different phases of your menstrual cycle, read this article.

Lifestyle Habits That Support a Healthy Metabolic Rate 

Beyond diet and exercise, several lifestyle factors strongly influence your metabolic rate due to their impact on hormones, thyroid function, muscle mass, and food choices.

Adequate Sleep

Lack of quality sleep can severely disrupt hormones that regulate metabolism, including by raising cortisol levels and increasing the risk for insulin resistance. At the same time, sleep deprivation is known to increase levels of appetite hormones that drive cravings. Aim for seven to nine hours per night.

If you’re struggling with sleep, use the tips in this guide to help.

Stress Management

To keep cortisol levels under control, find ways to manage stress through yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or other calming practices. Exercising regularly, spending time outdoors, social connections, and getting enough sleep are also helpful for improving how well you cope with stress.

Cold Exposure 

Research suggests that regular exposure to cold temperatures can increase brown fat activity, leading to higher calorie expenditure. Studies have shown that activities like cold-water swimming, cold/ice baths, or cold showers can lead to higher levels of brown fat activation.

The activation of brown fat not only helps in burning calories but also offers metabolic benefits. It can improve insulin sensitivity, regulate blood sugar levels, and even contribute to weight management by increasing energy expenditure.

Sauna Sessions: 

Sauna sessions can provide metabolic benefits due to their ability to raise your body temperature, which can temporarily increase the metabolic rate as the body works harder to cool itself down.

Sauna sessions also promote sweating, which can lead to a temporary increase in calorie expenditure, and they help improve cardiovascular health and overall circulation, which can indirectly support a healthy metabolism. Read more about the health benefits of saunas.

People with certain medical conditions, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, should consult with their healthcare provider before engaging in sauna sessions, as the heat exposure and dehydration risks may not be suitable for everyone.

Key Takeaways on Metabolic Enhancers

While no magic weight loss pill exists, emphasizing nutritious foods, adequate exercise, and restorative self-care habits can help stoke your metabolic fire and accelerate your fat-burning ability. Specific supplements may further enhance your metabolism when used along with a balanced diet and lifestyle changes, which remain the foundation for losing weight and keeping it off for the long run.

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is a women’s hormone expert and prominent leader in women’s medicine. As a licensed naturopathic physician who is board certified in naturopathic endocrinology, she takes an integrative approach in her clinical practice. A fierce patient advocate and completely dedicated to uncovering the root cause of hormonal imbalances, Dr. Brighten empowers women worldwide to take control of their health and their hormones. She is the best selling author of Beyond the Pill and Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth. Dr. Brighten is an international speaker, clinical educator, medical advisor within the tech community, and considered a leading authority on women’s health. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and a faculty member for the American Academy of Anti Aging Medicine. Her work has been featured in the New York Post, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Bustle, The Guardian, Sports Illustrated, Elle, and ABC News. Read more about me here.