How a Dietitian Boosts
a Sluggish Metabolism
By Thira Burns, MS, RDN
Put simply, metabolism is the process of converting food into energy. Now, that’s separate from digestion, which refers to how your body breaks down food in your gastrointestinal tract. Metabolism is actually the next step after digestion: the process in which your body makes that broken-down food into energy to use immediately or store away for later. A healthy metabolism does that job efficiently; a slow one, less so. It’s like how a new car might get thirty miles out of a gallon of gas, but the same model built twenty years ago might get fifteen. Metabolism answers the question of how much bang we get for our proverbial buck.
It’s a misconception that the speed of your metabolism has a direct relationship to your body weight. It’s one piece of the puzzle, sure—how efficiently your body uses energy definitely has a relationship to where that energy goes—but there are so many other factors that go into weight, like how you’re fueling your body and what the balance of your hormones looks like.
I’m sure I’m not the first to break it to you that there’s no magic wand you can wave to take your metabolism from zero to one hundred. (Not that your metabolism is ever at zero.) But there are a handful of things that we know you can do to help.
First, moving your body regularly. Everything counts. When you exercise, your metabolism has to speed up in order to funnel ample energy to your muscles. (If it didn’t, your body simply wouldn’t move as efficiently as you’d like.) And your body sustains that bump in metabolism speed for up to an hour after you stop moving. That’s one of the reasons it’s so important to move often and take breaks from your desk throughout the day.
Second, making room for certain foods and supplements that may have benefits for metabolism. There’s no magic bullet—you know that. But there are a handful of ingredients that are well-studied for their relationship to metabolism. Let’s go through them:
7-keto DHEA The compound 7-keto DHEA has solid evidence behind it for boosting metabolism and may help support a healthy body weight when combined with healthy nutrition and regular exercise. As a dietitian and a supplement formulator, I saw 7-Keto® DHEA as the obvious choice for our Metabolism-Boosting Superpowder: It has a low risk of unwanted side effects such as those you might see with caffeine, and it’s not as bitter as green tea catechins. (Which are still worth exploring—we’ll go into each of those below.)*
Caffeine We know that caffeine can temporarily increase metabolism when it’s taken alongside whatever else you’re eating, but upping your caffeine intake can come with unwanted side effects, like nervousness, restlessness, stomach upset, and disruptions to your sleep cycle. If you tolerate caffeine well, it can be a good tool for metabolism support—just listen to your body and don’t go overboard on the espresso.
Green tea catechins Green tea might be a better-tolerated alternative to coffee, and it contains compounds called catechins that have been shown to lend additional benefits to metabolic rate—beyond what caffeine can do alone. These compounds are present only in green tea, not in black tea or other varieties. (Matcha, which is made from green tea leaves, definitely works here.)
Capsaicin If you like spicy foods, know that they’re on your side. The compound that gives peppers their heat, capsaicin, is known to boost the body’s ability to burn through energy. It wasn’t the right thing for our Metabolism-Boosting Superpowder—I can’t imagine asking our food director, Caitlin, to whip up a spicy smoothie—but it’s worth keeping in mind in the kitchen.
A bit more on our Metabolism-Boosting Superpowder, while I have you: In addition to our hero ingredient, 7-Keto DHEA, we formulated the superpowder with a concentrated cinnamon extract. Cinnamon can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels when used as part of your diet. Keeping blood sugar within a normal range helps keep the hormones involved in appetite (like insulin, leptin, and ghrelin) from getting out of whack. We’re not trying to suppress appetite here—just supporting your body in storing glucose (sugar) to avoid an energy crash.*
We also included holy basil, an Ayurvedic herb that’s traditionally used to support a healthy response to stress. It’s one herb we like to add to our stress management routines, whatever those involve—mindfulness, yoga, getting out in nature, spending time with our loved ones… The idea here—and preliminary evidence shows us this—is that if the body is well-adapted to manage stress, we can limit the peaks and valleys of the stress hormone cortisol, which impacts other hormones that have a relationship with blood sugar and metabolism.*
And then we added organic cocoa powder and monk fruit extract for a chocolaty flavor and a bit of sweetness. I love Metabolism-Boosting Superpowder in the smoothie Caitlin created for us: It tastes like chocolate-strawberry pudding. (The secret to the perfect creamy consistency? Frozen avocado.) But the superpowder also goes great with anything you might pair with chocolate, like banana or peanut butter.
Our director of wellness product development, Thira Burns, has a BS in clinical nutrition from UC Davis and an MS in nutrition science from San Jose State University, and she is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She’s the brain behind our beloved soft chews, our gut and metabolism superpowders, DTF, and our growing family of goop sex toys. And she’s the keeper of our wellness shop: Burns’s team vets the documentation verifying the purity and quality of the supplements goop carries by diving into third-party testing and double-blind studies on ingredients. So she knows that these products are manufactured according to the FDA’s current good manufacturing practices and that the label claims are backed by research.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.
7-Keto® is a Lonza trademark.