Metabolic Reset: 8 Effective Strategies to Reignite Your Calorie Burn

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition Experts’ Corner
woman cooking a healthy meal

Are you struggling with stubborn weight, constant fatigue and irresistible cravings for sugar and carbs? These may be warning signs of a sluggish metabolism.

Let’s look at the common reasons for a metabolic slowdown and review the best ways to achieve a metabolic reset so you can get your energy back and jumpstart your weight loss.

Decoding Metabolism

First, let’s clarify what the term “metabolism” means. Broadly, metabolism refers to all energy-consuming processes within the body – from breathing to blood circulation to digestion.

However, when most people mention metabolism, they’re talking about the metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy (in the form of calories) your body burns to complete these life-sustaining functions.

Your daily metabolic rate (calorie burn) is determined based on three main components:

  1. Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) – Even when you’re lying down, your body is working. The energy used to maintain basic bodily functions is your RMR.
  2. Physical Activity (PA) – This includes all the energy burned through movement.
  3. Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) – Every time you eat, your body expends energy to break down that food. This is referred to as the thermic effect of food.

Several factors influence these components, shaping your unique metabolic rate and daily energy expenditure. While you can’t control some aspects like genetics, gender and age, you can influence others, such as body weight, diet and activity level, to ensure a balanced metabolism.

How Does Your Metabolic Rate Affect Weight Loss?

There’s no way around it: you need to eat fewer calories than you burn to shed pounds. A healthy, revved-up metabolic rate helps achieve this necessary calorie deficit.

On the other hand, certain diet and lifestyle factors can slow your metabolism, hindering weight loss. Fortunately, a few simple strategies can help you restore your metabolism and start seeing results.

How to Reset Your Metabolism

Ready for a metabolism reset? These tips address key metabolic components: RMR, Physical Activity and the Thermic Effect of Food, helping you optimize your metabolism and achieve your goals.

1. Get Plenty of Sleep

woman sleeping

Burning the midnight oil is a surefire way to sabotage your weight loss goals. Here are the reasons why.

Sleep deprivation places stress on your body, leading to an elevation in the cortisol hormone. High cortisol levels can lower metabolic rate by breaking down calorie-burning muscle mass.

Moreover, poor sleep habits can lead to metabolic shifts, such as insulin resistance, which reduce fat loss. One study found that people on a weight loss diet burned 55% less fat when sleep deprived compared to nights when they got a solid seven to eight hours of rest.

Finally, less sleep means increased hunger. A sleep shortage boosts ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite, pushing you towards high-calorie, sugary treats.

2. Eat Enough

woman eating

While a calorie deficit is essential for weight loss, going to extremes can backfire. Drastically cutting calories can slow your daily calorie burn for several reasons.

First, your metabolism tends to adapt to a lower calorie intake, slowing down to help preserve your body tissues. You may have heard this referred to as “starvation mode.”

How much this adaptation affects your metabolism seems to be related to the size of your calorie deficit. For example, participants in the Biggest Loser competition maintained a 50% or greater calorie deficit and experienced an 18% reduction in metabolic rate due to adaptation.

Conversely, studies targeting a 25% calorie deficit observed only a 5 to 8% dip in metabolic rate beyond what was expected due to a change in body size.

Furthermore, not eating enough can lead to fatigue, which can cause you to be less physically active, inadvertently reducing your daily calorie burn.

Lastly, starving yourself leaves you hungry, making sticking with your weight loss plan harder.

For optimal results, seek a personalized calorie assessment tailored to your weight loss goals. Nutrisystem’s NuMi app can help determine your specific calorie needs and modify your plan as needed.

3. Move Your Body

man exercising

Adjusting your physical activity can help balance the metabolic changes associated with weight loss.

Aerobic activities like walking can increase your daily calorie burn while improving heart health and blood sugar control. Aim for 150 minutes per week, which could be achieved by taking a 30-minute walk five days per week.

Strength training will help safeguard lean muscle mass. About 30% of weight loss comes from the breakdown of calorie-burning muscle and organ tissue. Participating in strength training exercises around three times a week can curtail this muscle loss by up to 90%.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) can also boost your daily calorie burn. NEAT involves finding opportunities to add more movement into your daily routines, be it taking the stairs, parking farther away, or getting up from your desk more often.

4. Boost Protein Intake

Man making a protein shake

Ever heard that celery is a negative-calorie food? It’s a weight loss myth, but certain foods do require more energy to digest. Protein is an example of this.

Around 20 to 30% of protein’s calories are expended during digestion, termed the thermic effect of food. In contrast, carbs and fats have thermic effects of about 5 to 10% and 0 to 3%, respectively.

While enhancing the thermic effect through higher protein intake may yield modest metabolic rate improvements, ample protein intake also aids in retaining lean muscle during weight loss, preventing a metabolic decline.

Plus, protein-rich food can help keep you feeling full and satisfied. Aim for 25 to 30 grams of lean protein at each meal, and 10 to 20 grams at snack time.

5. Stay Hydrated

woman drinking a glass of water

Drinking plenty of water can help you manage hunger while staying energized and clear-headed. But that’s not all; proper hydration also increases metabolic rate.

One study found that drinking 16 ounces of cool water increased metabolic rate by 30% for about 30 minutes. This effect amounted to around 24 extra calories burned.

Repeat this four times per day, and that’s an extra 100 calories burned.

6. Meditate

woman meditating

Chronic stress is a common issue in most people’s lives, and it could be the reason for a damaged metabolism. Stress can slow down the number of calories and fat burned after a meal. According to one study, this can result in as much as an 11-pound weight gain within a year.

Mindfulness meditation is a practice that can reduce stress, helping you effectively process and respond to stressful situations. In turn, this can help you balance hormones that impact your metabolism.

7. Nurture a Healthy Gut

person making a salad

Your digestive tract is home to trillions of microbes, collectively called your gut microbiome. Emerging research is linking the gut microbiome to various metabolic disorders.

Both animal and human studies have shown that certain microbiome profiles increase the risk for obesity, regardless of calorie intake. It’s unclear exactly how this all works, but there are things you can do to ensure your microbiome is primed to support healthy metabolic functions. Start by prioritizing fiber intake while curbing saturated fats and simple sugars to rapidly enhance gut health.

8. Get a Check Up

person at the doctors

Some medical conditions, including hypo- and hyperthyroidism, impact metabolic rate. Hair loss, fatigue and cold intolerance are common symptoms of thyroid-related disorders.

If you’re struggling to lose weight, it’s worth checking in with your doctor to assess if any underlying conditions are impacting your progress.


A slow metabolism could be to blame if you’ve struggled to see results on the scale. Your metabolic rate significantly influences weight loss, aiding in a necessary calorie deficit. Conversely, lifestyle and dietary factors can hinder metabolic health.

Fortunately, a few simple strategies can help you achieve a metabolic reset. Prioritize quality sleep, eat enough calories, stay active, optimize protein intake, hydrate, manage stress through mindfulness, and nurture a healthy gut.

Certain medical conditions, like hypothyroidism, may also impede progress, and you should discuss this with your healthcare provider.

If you need a helping hand, Nutrisystem programs incorporate these nutrition principles in an easy-to-follow structure. Plus, the NuMi app helps personalize each plan to support your specific weight management goals.


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