Metabolism “boosting” supplements, diets, books and programs are a dime a dozen—often claiming if you cut out long lists of foods, spend hundreds of dollars on pills or just “stick with the program”, you’ll get TONS of energy and the same “after” results of the fake poster models.
The reality? You’re still left buying the supplements, doing the program and trying to find the “golden ticket” for metabolic health.
10 Hacks to Boost Your Metabolism And Hormones Naturally
1. Eat Enough
Under-eating is a surefire way to shorting your energy circuits and metabolism. When we don’t eat enough for our basic daily energy demands and needs, our cortisol levels spike and our body is forced to slow other metabolic processes in order to function, including: digestion, brain function, immune system, hormone balance and more.
Q. How do you “eat enough?” A basic guideline for women is a minimum of 1800-2200 calories and balanced, moderate carbohydrate, fat and protein intake (approximately 40%-30%-30% respectively). However, these numbers can greatly vary depending on your current health status, if you are underweight or overweight, and your health history. To figure out your “just right” amount, consult with a functional medicine or nutrition professional.
2. Vary Your Nutrients
Variety is the spice of life—especially when it comes to food. In fact, the more we eat the same things every day, the more metabolically “inflexible” we become—unable to tolerate more and more variety. For optimal gut health diversity (and consequently, a thriving metabolism), aim to eat at least 30 different plant foods each week, along with a variety of proteins (poultry, beef, bison, fish, eggs) and healthy fats each week. The bottom line: The less diverse your diet, the less efficient your metabolism.
3. Vary Your Workouts
Your body was made to move. Not exercise. So move it—in a variety of ways and aim for the Goldilock’s approach (“just right”). When we incorporate a variety of workout styles, we keep our body “metabolically flexible” and inhibit “chronic cardio” syndrome (high cortisol and impaired metabolism and hormone balance). In fact, chronic cardio actually is just as bad for you as NOT working out at all. Studies in runners who consistently surpass 25 weekly miles find they have the same risk of death as those who don’t exercise. “Variety” with movement includes:
- Strength Training (2-5 days per week)
- HIIT/Power Activities (No more than 2-3 days per week)
- Low-Intensity Aerobic (3-5 days per week)
- Flexibility/Mobility (most days)
- Walking (daily lifestyle)
- Rest & Recovery (at least 1-2 days per week, no formal exercise)
4. Love Your Gut
Your gut is the gateway to health: Metabolism and hormones included. In fact, your gut is the largest endocrine (hormone producing) organ in your body. Love your gut with your basic 5 Gut Love Habits for starters, and consider working with a practitioner or nutritionist who specializes in gut health and digestive disorders.
5 Gut Love Habits
- Hydrate. Drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water/daily.
- Boost Digestion. Chew your food really well + use digestive enzymes, bitters and/or HCL supplementation to boost stomach acid and enzyme production.
- Love Your Gut Bugs. Take a quality probiotic daily + eat 1-2 condiment sized servings of fermented foods daily (if tolerated).
- Taste the Rainbow. Eat 2-3 different colors with meals alongside protein and healthy fats + aim to eat a total of 30 different plant foods each week.
- Soothe. Nourish your gut lining with “gut healing” supports including: broth, ginger tea and smart supplementation.
5. Get Your Beauty Sleep
Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to optimize metabolism, blood sugar levels, immune function and digestion. Can’t sleep? Incorporate these hacks:
- Nix screens 2-3 hours before bed (or at least use blue blocking glasses)
- Candle down. Shut off artificial bright lights at night. Use ambient lamplight.
- Keep your phone + electronics outside the bedroom.
- Lower the temperature to 68 degrees or below
- Black out: Use a sleep mask or blackout curtains.
- Meditate + do a deep breathing practice before bed.
- Sip bone broth, protein powder, Greek yogurt or another protein-based snack if you wake up in the middle of the night between 2-4 a.m.
6. Soak Up the Sun
Keeping our internal body clocks synchronized with the natural light-dark cycle is beneficial to our health, our metabolism, cortisol levels, blood sugar and digestion. For one, people who get more natural light during the daytime are more likely to have optimal Vitamin D levels (necessary for nutrient absorption, hormone balance, digestion and energy). And when we get more natural light at the right times (i.e. light during the day, and no bright light at night), research shows our body stays more balanced (i.e. lessened glucose or cortisol spikes at the wrong times). Get more natural light with these tips:
- First thing in the morning, take 5-10 minutes to “ground” yourself (step outside, barefoot on the grass and soak up the morning light)
- Use natural window light during the day when possible at work
- Take a “recess” break during the day—get outside, take a walk, eat lunch outside or step away from the screen
- Turn off bright overhead lights at night
- Use blue blocking orange glasses at nighttime
7. Kick the Coffee Addiction
Coffee is not innately “bad”, but when we need it to “function”, then this is a sign that “something is up.” Coffee is not a necessary nutrient like water, fiber, fat or protein. Dependence on coffee can hijack our energy levels, hormones, liver function, gut health and metabolism—even decaf coffee. How so?
- Coffee stimulates our cortisol and blood sugar levels. When we drink coffee (especially more than 1 cup per day), we train these pathways to ride a “roller coaster” of highs and lows during the day; and if we experience a “dip” in energy or blood sugar, the body learns to crave (and need) coffee to feel more balanced again.
- Many people are also “slow metabolizers” of coffee—they have at least one copy of the “slow metabolizer” CYP1A2 gene and don’t clear it out of their liver efficiently, and therefore feel like they need more in order to feel the “effects.”
- Coffee is the most cross-contaminating food with gluten—a well-known allergen and intolerance—associated with symptoms like: constipation, bloating, brain fog, headaches, poor immune function, and fatigue, all of which can also play out when we drink poor quality coffee.
How to Kick Coffee Addiction
For optimal metabolic function, kick the coffee addiction to the curb and come back to balance (1 cup of quality coffee per day). If you have a hard time going “cold turkey”, try these tips:
- Slowly cut your coffee intake in half until you are at 0 cups per day. Go “coffee free” for at least 28 days.
- Replace coffee with herbal tea, 100% cacao, celery juice and dandelion-blend tea (like Teecino) for a coffee-like taste
- Drink more water in place of coffee.
- If you get withdrawal headaches, supplement with amino acids. Amino acids are the “building blocks” of neurotransmitters—the “feel-good” chemicals in our brains. When are brains become stripped of these feel-good chemicals, we reach for “drugs” to feel better. The most often recommended amino acids to take for caffeine addiction are Tyrosine or DLPA (Phenylalaline). Some do better with one, others do better with the other. Take 500-1,000 mg with breakfast, and another 500-1,000 mg at lunch as you cut out the coffee, for no longer than 7 days.
8. Just Say No
Overcommitment and “burning a candle” at both ends wreaks havoc on your metabolism—primarily by increasing your own stress levels. Do “more” for your body by doing less overall—give your energy, time, attention and focus to the things that really matter and move you closer to your bigger purpose, life and health vision.
9. Supplement Smart
Not all supplements are created equal. (And if the label says “burn fat” or “boost metabolism”, run). Supplements can be beneficial for hormone, energy and metabolic health, but will not be wrapped in a gimmick to convince you to do so. Instead knowing the foundational nutrients of metabolic health can get you far. Here are a few staples for your daily routine:
- Quality Probiotic (soil-based or quality lactobacilli/bifidobacteria formula; 1-2 doses/day)
- Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil (1 tsp/day)
- Digestive Enzymes (1-2 with meals)
- Methylated Vitamin B Complex (1 dose/day)
- Vitamin D3 (if deficient levels below 40 on bloodwork)
10. Optimize Your Hormones (Seed Cycle)
Seed cycling is a “food as medicine” approach to supporting hormone health that is beneficial at any stage in a woman’s life—especially during times of hormone shifts (such as coming off hormonal birth control, PMS or PCOS symptoms, or trying to get your period back).
How to Do It
Days 1-14: Eat pumpkin and flaxseeds during the follicular phase*
*Day 1=first day of your period
When your period comes, eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseeds and raw pumpkin seeds through day 14. These seeds can help naturally increase your estrogen while also providing fiber to support healthy estrogen metabolism.
Days 15-28: Eat sesame seeds or sunflower seeds during the luteal phase Following ovulation, or on day
15 of your cycle, eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh ground sunflower and sesame seeds. Sesame and sunflower seeds contain lignans and essential fatty acids that support the hormones that carry us through the luteal phase. Lignans naturally regulate the body’s production of estrogen due to their phytoestrogens. In addition, they replace endogenous estrogens in a much purer and healthier form, thus helping to maintain weight, treat acne, balance hormones, and shift hormone metabolisms.
Note: Prepare seeds properly
Soak and dry seeds overnight in filtered water with 1 tbsp. Also, apple cider vinegar, then dry them, to remove lectins and phytates from their shell and improve absorption.
How to Eat Your Seeds:
- Raw, soaked
- Homemade seed crackers
- Sprinkled on a salad
- Stirred into coconut yogurt or grass-fed greek yogurt
- Tossed in smoothie
- Sun-butter or pumpkin seed butter
- Homemade tahini
- Homemade paleo cookie or energy bar
- What if I don’t have a period?!
Eat on the “moon cycle”—Use the new moon as your day 1 and eat flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds. When the full moon arrives, switch to the sunflower and sesame seeds.
- On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your overall energy? (1=none, 10=off the charts)
- What do you think holds you back or impairs your energy and hormone balance?
- Which of these hacks could you most benefit from? How so?
Written & Scientifically Reviewed by Dr. Lauryn Lax, PhD, OTR/L.