Best Proteins to Boost Metabolism

You have been trying to lose weight but haven’t quite seen the results you are looking for. You are starting to think maybe your body just is not really burning all that many calories. Maybe you have a slow metabolism and want to speed it up.

One of the best things you can do to boost your metabolism and help you lose weight is to eat a balanced diet and choose the right type/amount of more protein. So, what is the deal with protein and metabolism?

What is Metabolism?

The word “metabolism” simply means all of the chemical reactions that occur in your body on a daily basis. Since these are the chemical reactions that keep your body functioning, there is no real way for you to live while having a “slow” metabolism.

What people mean when they say their metabolism is “slow” is that their basal metabolic rate (the base number of calories burned in a day) is not optimal. In short, the more calories you burn, the easier it will be to maintain or lose weight. 

Your metabolic rate is made up of four numbers:

  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): The number of calories you need to stay alive for your heart to beat and brain to function. This varies by age, weight, gender, and body composition.
  • Thermic effect of food (TEF): The calories to digest your food. This contributes to your total metabolism.
  • Activities of daily living (ADL): Activities of daily living like walking around, getting dressed, brushing your teeth, etc all burn calories.
  • Total energy expenditure: Includes BMR, ADL, digestion, and any exercise you may do. 

The number of calories you burn or your metabolic rate is a total of all of your activity for the day. You can control how much activity or exercise you do to burn more calories, but there is only so much exercise you can do in one day.

One way to increase the overall amount of calories you burn is to focus on ways to speed up your TEF or BMR. Eating more protein is one way to do this, which may add up to burning more calories and helping you lose weight.

Does Protein Boost Metabolism?

Compared to carbohydrates and fat, protein raises your TEF the most. This means it takes more calories to digest protein, raising metabolism by 15-30%. Eating carbs alone raises your metabolism 5-10% and fat just 0-3%. This increase can add up over time and make it easier for you to lose weight without cutting out so many calories.

When you lose weight, you unfortunately don’t just lose body fat, you also lose muscle. This may be one of the reasons why keeping weight off over time is difficult, your metabolic rate decreases because you have less muscle mass. This is why people who use temporary fad or calorie restrictive diets will gain weight back once they return to eating “normally”.

Eating more protein while you are losing weight can help you prevent from losing large amounts of muscle and keep your metabolism up. This may help you maintain your weight loss long-term, especially if you continue a high protein diet once you’ve reached your goal weight.

Eating more protein can also help you feel full longer, as it increases certain hormones that promote satiety. Finally, a higher muscle composition is more effective at burning calories while at rest, but in order to achieve that muscle composition you need an adequate intake of protein in your diet.

What Protein Boosts Metabolism?

Eating foods high in protein can get you that metabolic increase you are looking for. High protein foods that boost metabolism include:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Protein powders
  • Eggs
  • Beans and legumes
  • Dairy products, especially yogurt and milk

For a fast metabolism, aim to eat on the higher end of the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) or 25-30% of your calories from protein. If you eat a 2000 calorie diet, you will have to eat between 125-150 grams of protein per day. 

Here is an example of how to reach that goal:

Breakfast: 3 eggs (18 grams)

            1 cup of milk (8 grams)

Lunch: 6 oz of chicken (52 grams)

            Salad with dressing of choice

Snack: Protein shake with 1 scoop whey protein (15 grams)

Dinner: 6 oz of salmon (36 grams)


            Brown rice

Total: 129 grams

As you can see, a high protein diet can be achieved by including a high protein food at every meal and snack.

Best Protein Powder to Boost Metabolism

Adding protein powder to your day is a great way to speed up your metabolism. So, what is the best metabolism boosting protein powder?

Whey protein increases metabolism the most compared to other options on the market. Whey has been found to increase muscle synthesis, while controlling blood sugar, which in turn helps increase metabolic rate. To get the most out of your whey protein supplement, take it within 30 minutes of your workout to refuel those tired muscles.

One final thing to note, if your goal is weight loss, you do still need to remain calorie-aware. Eating more calories, even from high protein foods, won’t give you the results you want. Instead, use protein as a way to help control your calorie intake and give your metabolism a boost.




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Jaime Rangel, RD
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