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How to increase your BMR and metabolism

by Lumen Editorial Desk · December 03, 2023 · 6 minute read
how to increase metabolic rate

BMR and Metabolism Go Hand-in-Hand, How's How

Are you struggling with weight management despite your best efforts in dieting and exercising? You're not alone. The key might lie in a little-known but crucial aspect of your health: your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).

Why is understanding BMR crucial? A well-functioning BMR reflects good metabolic health.

But suppose your metabolism isn’t as efficient as it should be. In that case, you might find yourself facing challenges like unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight, despite following a strict diet and exercise regime. This inefficiency in metabolism often points to deeper health issues.

The good news is that by enhancing your metabolic health, you may also increase the amount of calories burned at rest. 

So, what's the solution? The answer lies in understanding and catering to your body's metabolic needs. Achieving your health goals is more than just about diet and exercise; it's about understanding how your body processes these efforts.

By tuning into your metabolic needs, you can make smarter choices that lead to more effective health outcomes.

In this article, our Lumen metabolic coaches explain the connection between the science of metabolism and BMR, and how you can enhance your metabolic health for better overall well-being.

Whether you're looking to lose weight, increase energy levels, or simply improve your health, understanding your metabolism and BMR is a game-changer. Let’s dive in. 

how do you increase your bmrhow do you increase your bmr

What is BMR?

Metabolism is a term we often hear, especially in discussions about weight and health. It refers to the biochemical processes that convert the food we eat into the energy our bodies need to function.

However, there's another piece to this puzzle – Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR.

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the energy your body burns when at rest to maintain basic bodily functions such as breathing, circulation, and cell growth. It accounts for 60-75% of your total daily calorie expenditure (1, 2). The remaining calories are used for activities like exercise, digestion, and physical work like this: 

3 components of daily calorie output (2):

  • BMR: 60 to 75% total daily energy expenditure
  • Thermic effect of food (TEF): 10 to 15% of total daily energy expenditure 
  • Physical activity (exercise and non-intentional activity): 15 to 30% of total daily energy expenditure.

Elevating your BMR through activities like strength training not only aids in effective weight management and muscle gain, but also enhances overall energy levels and mood. Additionally, a higher BMR contributes to better health outcomes, including reduced disease risks, and supports a healthier metabolism during the aging process. This holistic approach to fitness offers both physical and mental health benefits.

Factors that affect your BMR

Having grasped the basics of BMR, it’s important to explore the factors that can impact it. Gender, age, physical activity, nutritional status, and body composition, as determined by the fat mass and fat-free mass are only a few of the variables that affect BMR in general. Age, gender, height, weight, and body composition are the primary determinants of BMR (3). 

Body size and composition: People with more muscle mass have a higher BMR than people with less muscle mass. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, requiring more energy to maintain.

Gender: Men typically have a higher BMR than women due to their higher muscle mass.

Age: BMR tends to decrease with age, as muscle mass declines. BMR decreases dramatically with age in inactive individuals at a rate of 1–2% every decade after the age of 20.

Hormones: Thyroid hormones play a key role in regulating BMR. People with hyperthyroidism have a higher BMR, while people with hypothyroidism have a lower BMR.

Environment: The temperature of your environment can also affect your BMR. If you are in a cold environment, your body will expend more energy to maintain a warm temperature.

BMR is an important factor to consider when trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. If you are trying to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit, meaning you need to burn more calories than you consume. However, if your BMR is low, you may need to burn even more calories to reach your weight loss goals.

Several predictive equations can be used to determine your BMR. The Mifflin-St Jeor equation has been found to be the most reliable (4, 5). 

how to measure basal metabolic rate

What are the benefits of boosting your BMR?

Improved Weight Management: A higher BMR means your body burns more calories at rest, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight, assuming your calorie intake doesn't increase proportionally.

Increased Energy Levels: When your metabolism is efficient, your body is better at converting food into energy, which can lead to increased overall energy levels.

Enhanced Muscle Mass: Activities that boost BMR, like strength training, typically increase muscle mass. Muscles are metabolically more active than fat, which not only boosts BMR but also improves strength, balance, and coordination.

Better Health Outcomes: A higher BMR can contribute to improved health markers, such as reduced risk for certain diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol, as it is often associated with lower body fat and higher lean muscle mass.

Improved Body Composition: Boosting your BMR through exercise, especially strength training, can lead to a leaner body composition, as muscle takes up less space than fat for the same weight. A regimen of reasonable dieting with increased exercise maintains or increases BMR and promotes weight loss and weight maintenance (6). 

how to boost your metabolism

Enhanced Mood and Mental Health: Regular physical activity that increases BMR can also boost endorphin levels, leading to improved mood and potentially reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Aging Benefits: As we age, our BMR naturally decreases. Engaging in activities that boost BMR can counteract these effects, aiding in maintaining a healthy metabolism as we age.

Strategies to increase your BMR

Build and maintain lean muscle mass:

Body composition plays a significant role in determining daily calorie output. Compared to fat mass, lean muscle mass has a higher metabolic activity. As a result, if someone has more muscle mass, they will burn more calories at rest. In one study, 10 weeks of resistance training resulted in a 7% increase in BMR (7).

Muscle tissue burns more calories at rest than fat tissue. Our Lumen metabolic coaches recommend engaging in strength training exercises, such as weightlifting or bodyweight exercises, to increase muscle mass and maximize your daily calorie expenditure. The more muscle you have, the higher your BMR will be.

Eating more protein

The thermic effect of food (TEF) is a metabolic response to food. It is one of the three components that make up an individual daily calorie output. The body uses energy (calories) to digest, absorb, and transport food in the body.  Therefore, the TEF is the increase in metabolism that occurs after eating (8). Out of the three macronutrients, protein has a higher thermic effect than carbohydrates and fat (9). This is because TEF is the extra energy that your body uses to digest, absorb, and process the nutrients from the food you eat.

To compare: 

  • Thermic effect of protein: 15 to 30%
  • Thermic effect of carbohydrates: 5 - 10%
  • Thermic effect of fat: 0-3%

According to studies, two meals with the same amount of calories but different amounts of protein will affect metabolism differently. It is not surprising that the higher protein meal results in a higher TEF (8). Your daily calorie output can be maximized by consuming adequate protein at each meal. 

How we time and structure our meals plays a significant role in influencing our metabolic rate. Based on individual metabolic measurements and your health goals, Lumen can recommend specific amounts of protein intake throughout the day. This personalized nutrition approach ensures that users are not only meeting their protein needs but doing so in a way that optimally increases their daily calorie expenditure through TEF.

Stay physically active

A person's physical activity accounts for 15 to 30% of their total daily energy expenditure. Physical activity can be further divided into two categories: exercise activity thermogenesis (EAT) and non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) (10). EAT refers to intentional exercise (running, strength training, biking, etc.) and NEAT refers to non-intentional exercise done through activities of daily living such as walking and standing.

Physical activity has the greatest variability of all of the total daily energy expenditure components and, therefore, makes it an important area to make sure you are maximizing to see the greatest benefits in metabolism. 

Based on the intensity and type of exercise Lumeners engage in, they will receive tailored suggestions. For example, after an intense workout, Lumen might suggest a post workout recommendation that replenishes energy stores more effectively, possibly with a higher carbohydrate content to restore glycogen levels, or increased protein for muscle recovery.

how to boost my metabolism

Prioritize quality sleep

Inadequate sleep affects many people worldwide and is considered to be a global public health epidemic (11). Most major health institutions recommend a healthy adult get 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep per night. Not only can inadequate sleep, appetite, and food cravings, but it interacts with metabolism in a variety of ways. This includes glucose metabolism, fat storage, and overall metabolic regulation.

Taking a closer look at the link between metabolism and sleep, research has found that just 4 nights of getting 5 hours of sleep decreases insulin sensitivity (11). This study found the sleep-deprived participants to have higher circulating insulin. Without a proper response to insulin and circulating insulin levels, the body has trouble metabolizing fats in your bloodstream and will instead store them as fat. 

The good news is that this same study found that just one hour of recovery sleep, which they defined as 10 hours, could restore metabolism (12). Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, and if you do have a night of inadequate sleep, increase your sleep the next night.

Don't drastically restrict calories

Calorie restriction can initially result in weight loss, but due to a survival mechanism called metabolic adaptation, eventually, BMR will decrease and match the reduced body weight and calorie intake (13). This is why many people will experience a weight loss plateau at some point in their weight loss journey.

While it is true that to lose weight, you need to achieve a calorie deficit, it is best to do so through a modest calorie restriction instead of a drastic one. Avoiding a drastic calorie reduction can minimize reductions in BMR and result in more sustainable weight loss.

Lumen's dynamic approach to diet planning effectively supports weight loss by ensuring a balanced calorie deficit that adapts to changing metabolic needs over time.

This method promotes healthy metabolism while providing adequate nutrient intake, making weight loss sustainable and avoiding the pitfalls of drastic calorie restrictions. By tailoring its recommendations as individuals progress in their weight loss journey, Lumen ensures that dietary adjustments are effective and aligned with the body's evolving requirements.

Find Ways to Manage Your Stress

Chronic stress can alter critical metabolic pathways predominantly in relation to glucose metabolism (14). As discussed earlier, glucose and insulin metabolism can negatively affect metabolism and lead to weight gain. Although not all stressful events are avoidable, regularly practicing stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and other activities may help you mitigate the risk of stress negatively affecting weight and metabolism. 

While these strategies provide a roadmap to improving your BMR, let’s not forget the importance of tracking and personalizing your approach for the best results.

how can you increase your bmr

Tracking your progress

Regular monitoring with Lumen can provide valuable feedback on how different lifestyle choices affect your metabolism. This information can guide adjustments in your diet, exercise, and other habits to continually optimize your metabolic rate and overall health.

Keeping a consistent log of your metabolic readings alongside notes on your lifestyle choices can offer insights into long-term trends and progress.


To wrap up, boosting your BMR is a multifaceted journey involving various aspects of your lifestyle. Improving your BMR is about more than just burning calories; it's about enhancing your overall metabolic health. 

By adopting a holistic approach that includes dietary changes, lifestyle adjustments, and an understanding of metabolism, you can not only support weight management but also improve your energy levels, mood, and overall well-being. 

Remember, each person's metabolic response is unique, and it's important to listen to your body and adjust your strategies accordingly.


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Pethusamy, K., Gupta, A., Yadav, R. (2019). Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). In: Vonk, J., Shackelford, T. (eds) Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1429-1

Verma, N., Kumar, S. S., & Suresh, A. (2023). An evaluation of basal metabolic rate among healthy individuals — A cross-sectional study. Bulletin of Faculty of Physical Therapy, 28(1), 1-6. https://doi.org/10.1186/s43161-023-00139-6

Frankenfield, D., Roth-Yousey, L., & Compher, C. (2005). Comparison of Predictive Equations for Resting Metabolic Rate in Healthy Nonobese and Obese Adults: A Systematic Review. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105(5), 775-789. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2005.02.005

Mifflin MD, St Jeor ST, Hill LA, Scott BJ, Daugherty SA, Koh YO. A new predictive equation for resting energy expenditure in healthy individuals. Am J Clin Nutr. 1990 Feb;51(2):241-7. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/51.2.241. PMID: 2305711.

Marcus, J. B. (2012). Weight Management: Finding the Healthy Balance: Practical Applications for Nutrition, Food Science and Culinary Professionals. Culinary Nutrition, 431-473. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-391882-6.00010-8

Westcott, Wayne L. PhD. Resistance Training is Medicine: Effects of Strength Training on Health. Current Sports Medicine Reports 11(4):p 209-216, July/August 2012. | DOI: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31825dabb8 

Calcagno M, Kahleova H, Alwarith J, Burgess NN, Flores RA, Busta ML, Barnard ND. The Thermic Effect of Food: A Review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2019 Aug;38(6):547-551. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2018.1552544. Epub 2019 Apr 25. PMID: 31021710.

Pesta DH, Samuel VT. A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2014 Nov 19;11(1):53. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-11-53. PMID: 25489333; PMCID: PMC4258944.

Chung N, Park MY, Kim J, Park HY, Hwang H, Lee CH, Han JS, So J, Park J, Lim K. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): a component of total daily energy expenditure. J Exerc Nutrition Biochem. 2018 Jun 30;22(2):23-30. doi: 10.20463/jenb.2018.0013. PMID: 30149423; PMCID: PMC6058072.

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Our contributing team of in-house registered and certified nutritionists, dietitians, scientists, and researchers helping people become metabolically healthier

Lumen Editorial Desk

Our Lumen editorial desk includes an in-house team of certified and registered nutritionists and dietitians, scientists, researchers, and writers.