It’s a common question, but what exactly is metabolism?  Simply put, it’s your internal calorie-burning firepit – the amount of energy your body burns to sustain itself.  This includes your resting metabolic rate and additional calories (or kJ) expended from physical activity and digestion (thermic effect of food).

Your metabolism is influenced by a number of factors, such as genetics, hormones, and your body composition – particularly how much muscle you have.   Muscle is very metabolically active (unlike fat, that metabolic freeloader!), so the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest.

So how do you stoke the flames of your metabolism (without setting yourself on fire!)?  Despite all the quick-fix pills, potions, and infomercial gadgets on the market, the best way to speed up your metabolism and trim away body fat is by making healthy food choices and increasing your regular physical activity.

Increase your muscle mass by adding resistance training to your routine (body weight exercises, free weights, or machines). Then stoke your ‘metabolic firepit’ by keeping that extra lean mass active all day through incidental activity (more time standing, even at work) and through structured exercise such as aerobic exercise. The lunge is a great multi-joint movement to incorporate, and taxes the large muscles of the hips, thighs, and calves.

So how much exercise is enough? The American College of Sports Medicine recommends you train with resistance two or three times a week, performing eight to 10 separate exercises hitting all of the major muscle groups in the body.   For basic conditioning, you should do at least one set of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise.  If you’ve been sedentary for quite some time, then this should suffice.  You can also use other forms of resistance training such as resistance bands, kettle bells, or anything else that puts stress on the muscles above and beyond a level to which they’re normally accustomed (called progressive overload).

Also aim for regular aerobic exercise. The Surgeon General recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week engaging the large-muscles of the lower body such as walking, jogging, swimming or cycling.

When it comes to stoking your metabolism, just remember to be consistent with your routine.  After all, a little bit of something is still better than a whole lot of nothing!


Dr Bill Sukala is a Sydney-based health science communicator, clinical exercise physiologist, health writer, speaker, and media health commentator. He has published health articles in major publications around the world and has given invited lectures across five continents. Click here for more information or follow Bill on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


  1. joe cannon

    Good points as usual Bill. In your research, have you ever seen anything about the benefits of altering the order of exercise periodically – specifically switching from doing strength first to cardio first?

    It would seem to me that the body adapts to what is done first – strength or cardio – and as such becomes more efficient (burns fewer calories). Has anyone looked at how switching up this exercise sequence might boost metabolism?

    Keep those great reviews coming!

  2. Christallin

    Dr. Bill you are the MAN! Your articles are neat, concise, and no-nonsense. I will be e regular reader and will post to my Facebook page, Christallinbringingsexybacktabb. I’m a Life Coach and Personal Trainer and a life long learner. Thanks so much for all of the excellent information.

  3. Rapta

    Dr Bula,

    You’re inspirational and quite a sexy beast to boot! Good on ya mate!



    • Bill Sukala, PhD

      G’Day Lloyd, That’s the nicest thing anyone’s said to me all day! Thank you!

  4. Marietta Wright

    I have ordered this product, and hope it isn’t a scam. I desperately need to lose 50lbs.

  5. Rosanne

    Do infrared body wraps, like Formostar or Slimstart, or laser traetments, like Velashape, really work to dissolve fat and increase metabolism?

    • Bill Sukala, PhD

      Hi Rosanne,
      Thanks for leaving a message. The short answer to your question is “no.” As of this writing, there is no reputable evidence that slimming shorts, body wraps, or other similar treatments can selectively strip fat off specific areas of the body. I’m not sure if you’ve seen this, but I would suggest having a look at my Zaggora Hot Pants review which tend to fall in line with the treatments you mentioned:

      Hope this helps,

  6. Dorian Cannon

    Regular physical activity, eh? I always thought it sounded logical that some supplement could help the pancreas produce more bile to burn the food we digest. But , in the end, you know that more exercise FEELS right.


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