12 Ways to Get the Metabolism of a 25-Year-Old

Updated: Mar. 25, 2021

Instead of envying 20-somethings for their ability to seemingly keep weight off with zero effort, follow these tips to help speed up your own metabolism.

iStock/Bogdan Kosanovic

Drink more H2O

If you’re looking to speed up your metabolism, ensuring you get the proper amount of water every day is probably one of the oldest health tricks in the book, but not just because it keeps skin hydrated or helps prevent overeating. A small study in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition found that drinking water can actually lead to weight loss, possibly because it can increase metabolism. “It takes calories to process water, because everything we do takes calories,” says Lauren Pincus, MS, RDN, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. “The more water, the more calories you need to expend.” She suggests aiming for around two liters a day, but the exact amount depends on your activity level and age. As a bonus, there are many other health benefits of drinking more water.

woman using rowing machine at gym
iStock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Start strength training

While nutritionists agree that there is no magic food to rev up your metabolism, getting enough exercise, especially the right kind of exercise, is key. Strength training two or three times a week can help build lean muscle mass. “A pound of muscle burns up to nine times more calories than a pound of fat,” says nutritionist Lisa Stollman, RDN, CDN. “Lifting weights is a great way to build muscle mass.” However, the point is not just to build lean muscle mass, but to maintain it. “As we age, we start to lose muscle,” says Pincus. “Strength training not only builds muscle groups to burn more calories, but also helps preserve them and prevent loss.” Check out these other nutritionist-approved ways to speed up your metabolism.

Chicken with broccoli, carrots and tomatoes in a casserole dish

Up your protein intake

Eating a sufficient quantity of protein at each meal is almost unanimously agreed upon as a critical component of maintaining a rapid metabolism. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition confirms that a higher protein diet makes you feel more satiated after eating and helps you maintain lean muscle mass. But that doesn’t mean you should go to town on a juicy steak every night. “You can absorb only about 30 grams of protein at a time to utilize it for muscle group and repair,” says Pincus, who recommends that you spread protein consumption throughout the day, about 4 ounces with each meal. Not sure how to incorporate healthy lean protein into your mealtime routines? According to Stollman, these are some of the high-protein foods nutritionists actually eat with their meals and snacks: 2 tablespoons of nuts or nut butter, 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt, either dairy or soy, 2 ounces of tuna, 4 tablespoons of hummus, 4 ounces of tofu, or 1 egg.

Woman walking with a plate of food
iStock/Nicolas McComber

Be mindful when eating

While most of us might wolf our meals down at our desks or in front of the TV, savoring your food is better for achieving a healthier weight. Recent research shows that the faster people ate, the more they ate because the hormone that signals that you’re full, cholecystokinin (CCK), takes about 20 minutes to kick in. If you inhale your meal, you might consume more than you mean to without realizing you’re already full. Keri Gans, RD, New York City-based nutritionist and author of The Small Change Diet, also suggests maintaining a regular dining schedule as an important component to mindful eating habits.

Woman sleeping peacefully

Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep

Don’t cave into that extra episode of Stranger Things: Getting a quality night’s is critical for a healthy metabolism. “Too little sleep appears to wreak havoc with levels of leptin and ghrelin, two hormones that regulate appetite,” says Elisa Zied, MS, RDN, CDN, founder and president of Zied Health. “When you don’t sleep well, you feel hungrier and you tend to eat more and choose more nutrient-poor foods.” Also try these simple solutions for boosting your metabolism.

Woman looking at phone screen while lying in bed

Limit screen time before bed

It’s no secret that experts recommend putting away blue-light devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, at least an hour before bed to improve sleep quality. But it’s important for metabolism too—a pilot study from Northwestern University shows that exposure to blue light at night can impact glucose metabolism. Although the exact correlation is still being studied, John La Puma, MD, suggests ceasing exposure to blue light two hours prior to hitting the sack. “Blue light exposure resets melatonin levels so that getting to sleep becomes harder, and too little sleep means weight gain for most people,” says Dr. La Puma. Setting a curfew for your digital devices is a key part of any successful bedtime routine.

woman drinking tea by a window
iStock/Martin Dimitrov

Enjoy a cup of coffee and tea

“Caffeine can increase your metabolism up to 8 percent,” says Stollman. “Brewed tea kicks it up another notch by boosting your metabolism by 10 percent.” Green tea goes above and beyond thanks to its catechins, and the effects add up. Pincus recommends three to four cups a day to potentially burn up to 50 to 100 calories. Just don’t use this an excuse to indulge in flavored lattes or sugary green tea drinks from boutique cafes. “Don’t make it into dessert—that defeats the whole purpose,” says Gans. Check out these other foods that are scientifically proven to burn fat.

A plate with a very small portion of vegetables and nothing else
iStock/Du?an Zidar

Don’t overly restrict calories

Severely limiting caloric intake can tricking your body into thinking it’s starving. In her book Thin for Life: 10 Keys to Success from People Who Have Lost Weight and Kept it Off, Anne Fletcher writes: “If you cut back on calories, your body protects itself from this state of semi-starvation by slowing down the rate at which it burns food.” While skipping a meal or two might see positive short-term effects, it can be harmful in the long run. Here are more metabolism myths that can ruin your weight loss.

A man cooking eggs in a fry pan on the stove

Don’t skimp on protein

Choosing a cup of sugary cereal instead of a plate of eggs in the a.m. could slow down your metabolism throughout the day. “If you skip protein at breakfast, you lose an opportunity in your day to feed your muscles,” says Pincus. “You can’t double up at dinner since your body can’t utilize more than four ounces at a time.” These are the high-protein breakfasts that may help you lose weight.

chicken wings piled high on a platter

Spice it up

Capsaicin, present in spicy foods like chili and red pepper flakes, is known to boost metabolism, and in a 2018 study in the journal BMC Obesity, supplementing with capsaicin even decreased body fat. And the longer participants took the supplements, the more body fat they lost. As always, don’t use this as an excuse to eat unhealthier foods like greasy takeout. “Sprinkle on red pepper flakes on eggs in the morning,” advises Gans. “You could even make fish, chicken, or lean beef a little spicier for dinner.” Look out for these common foods that are messing with your metabolism.

Male and female colleagues walking and talking at work

Keep moving, even if you’re at your desk

It’s not just about being a gym rat. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that non-exercise related activity, such as tapping your foot or fidgeting at your desk, can help keep off fat. To integrate more movement into your everyday routine, Pincus suggests opting for a standing or transitional desk, or just making sure you don’t spend the entire workday being sedentary. “Set a timer to walk around your office every half an hour, do a few squats—something to keep the body moving,” she says.

People commuting on bicycles
iStock/Xavier Arnau

Change up your commute

A recent study by the Royal Society for Public Health found that while a long commute to work obviously decreases physical activity and might eat into time spent exercising, it can also lead to decreased sleep time and a 29 percent increase in food consumption—and usually unhealthier food at that, since there is less time to prepare meals. Though some people might not have the means (or the climate) to avoid driving or public transportation, subbing in walking or biking for part of the trip could have you feeling more energetic and lean. Make sure you avoid these simple habits that slow down your metabolism.