The Science of Metabolism

Metabolism is comprised of the many processes that occur within us to maintain life. Energy is required to keep our bodies powered. The heart beats around 103,000 times, the brain thinks with 7,000,000 brain cells, and we move 700 muscles in just 24 hours. While the word metabolism may have other connotations, there’s a lot of science behind the word’s true meaning.

Metabolic rate is influenced by many things including body temperature, respiratory rate, age, and genetics. These factors are out of our control and are the reasons why some individuals have a naturally faster or slower metabolism. Variance in metabolic rate from person to person, just like in body size and shape, is normal and okay. 

Is there a superfood to support metabolism?

Much of our metabolic rate is determined by factors beyond our control, but our lifestyle choices can play a part. While no superfood (not even celery juice!) can ramp up metabolism, there are practical steps a person can take to promote a healthy metabolism.

  • Eat well. Eat often. Eat mindfully.
  • Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
  • Exercise to build strength and reduce stress.
  • Hydrate intentionally. Carry a water bottle and drink to thirst.

More on eating well…

To eat well, eat all the food groups: carbohydrates, protein, fat, dairy, vegetables, and fruit. Food groups are defined by their nutrition profile. Like a puzzle piece, each food group has its unique qualities that, when put all together, create the bigger, balanced picture. We can build our bigger picture each time we build our plate! Start with filling half the plate with vegetables or fruit to fill up with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Make the other half of the plate equal parts carbohydrate and protein. Carbohydrates are essential for energy, and protein provides long-lasting satiety. Consider finishing off dinner with a glass of milk or small bowl of ice cream for calcium and fat—and just because it’s fun! To eat well is to eat balanced.

More on eating often…

Eat three meals per day, beginning with breakfast within two hours of waking. Eating a balanced breakfast provides the body with energy needed for a new day. Skipping breakfast, or any meal for that matter, signals the metabolism to slow down. Think about hibernating bears…their metabolism drops to 25%  of its normal rate to ensure survival in the upcoming months without food. And while none of us hibernate for months on end, it’s still important to note that low to no energy yields a slower metabolism. Why force our bodies to conserve energy and survive on less food? Each day, be sure to eat three meals, adding snacks in between as needed.

More on eating mindfully…

Speeding up the body’s metabolism may require slowing down eating. Take a minute before each meal to check in, asking “What is my hunger or fullness level right now?” and expressing gratitude for the meal. These checkpoints increase mindfulness around eating, providing more insight into beliefs, behaviors, and emotions around food. With greater awareness comes greater potential for meaningful change. To learn more about nutrition and your relationship with food, working with a Registered Dietitian at Memphis Nutrition Group can be a great place to start!

Ready, set, go!

Building a healthy metabolism requires intention and time. Remember to eat well, eat often, and eat mindfully. Food is fuel, so fill up to power up a healthy metabolism.

Caroline Pruente, MS, RDN is a nutrition therapist and Registered Dietitian at Memphis Nutrition Group. Memphis Nutrition Group believes in a non-diet approach that promotes overall health and optimal performance without compromising the enjoyment of food. For more information call Memphis Nutrition Group at 901.343.6146 or visit