Guest Column: 5 habits you need to know to improve your metabolism

Published 12:22 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2017

By Caitlin Larson

Caitlin Larson is a registered dietitian at Albert Lea Hy-Vee. She enjoys trying new restaurants and loves doing anything outdoors.

Metabolism is a word we hear often. But do we actually know what it does and how to take care of our own? Our body can take the food we eat and the beverages we drink and give us energy. Our bodies then use that energy to perform necessary functions such as breathing, blood circulation, food digestion and of course, physically moving our bodies.

Caitlin Larson

Several factors can affect your metabolism, such as your age, weight and even gender. However, metabolism is not the main culprit of weight gain or weight loss. The cause of weight gain or weight loss is still the foods and amount of calories we eat and how much physical activity we get. But a healthy metabolism is still important for overall health and achieving a healthy weight. Here are five habits you need to know in order to start and keep your metabolism in great shape.


Snacking can keep your engine running efficiently all day, if it’s done right.  Think of your metabolism as a parking meter. Once your time is up, you have to keep feeding the meter. Eating smaller portions approximately every three hours can help keep your metabolism run its best.  Perfect snack ideas consist of a source of protein and fiber and have around 200 or fewer calories.


The older we get, the more important exercise becomes. As we age, we naturally lose muscle.  Exercise is an amazing habit that can not only help you build muscle, but maintain what you have to prevent loss. Strength training and lifting weights are great options to add to your exercise routine.  Your muscles will burn more calories than any other part of your body. So, the more muscle you have, the more calories your metabolism will burn, even when you’re resting.

Avoid skipping meals and
over-limiting calories

Remember the meter? Your metabolism needs to have calories (energy) throughout the day to keep it running. If you are not giving your body enough calories, your body will adapt to the restricted caloric intake and use fewer calories to perform the same tasks. That will make it more of a challenge to lose weight. A dietitian is your perfect resource to find this balance of how many calories you may need.

Eating enough protein
to build muscle

Once you have the exercise habit down, it’s just as important to re-fuel and repair the muscles you’ve been building. Protein is the main nutrient that can achieve this. Again, the more muscle you have, the more calories your metabolism can burn. The best sources of protein come from meat and fish, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds and beans. If you have trouble getting protein from food, try your Hy-Vee dietitian pick of the month, performance inspired whey protein powder, which contains 25 grams per scoop.

Don’t fall for fads

If a weight-loss promise sounds too good to be true, it is! There is not a magic food that will increase or decrease your metabolism. Make sure you are getting a balanced diet from a variety of foods as well as giving your body the calories (energy) it deserves to keep your meter running the best it can!