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Supercharging Your Metabolism

In 2012, a Harvard University nutrition professor conducted a highly-controlled clinical study to find out the effects of popular diets on everything from inflammation to metabolism. The results might surprise you.

David Ludwig, a Boston physician and nutrition professor at Harvard, gathered up twenty-one subjects and had them spend time on three different diets with the same amount of calories per day on each:

  • High-carb, low-fat

  • Low-carb, high fat

  • Middle-of-the-road Mediterranean

How did it affect their metabolism?

Subjects burned ~300 more calories per day on the low-carb diet than they did on the low-fat diet. That’s equal to an hour of moderate exercise!

Weight Trainer

This is important because conventional wisdom is “calories in=calories out,” or the only thing that matters is how many calories you eat and burn, regardless of whether or not it’s from carbohydrate, fat, or protein. This study says otherwise.

There was a downside to the low-carb diet, though. While going low-carb, the subjects’ levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, was highest.

The question then becomes, “How can I supercharge my metabolism while limiting inflammation?

I’d vote adding in copious amounts of vegetables and moderate amounts of fruits to lower inflammation while limiting refined grains that unquestionably lead to higher levels of inflammation.

Diet changes to help supercharge your metabolism

  • Don't come home from the grocery store with bread

  • Find an almond or coconut flour pancake recipe to use as bread

  • Limit chips, crackers, and other empty grains - metabolism killer!

  • Eat one avocado each day

  • Instead of low-fat yogurt or milk, opt for the full-fat verions

  • Snack on things like nuts, beef jerky, and dark chocolate

Quick Recap

  • Low-carb diets supercharge your metabolism, possibly helping you burn as much as 300 more calories per day

  • Low-carb diets lead to increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone

  • Experiment with limiting carbs to see if it works for you

  • Don’t be afraid of dietary fat

  • Eat lots of vegetables to limit inflammation

  • Make simple diet switches to help get more fat into your diet, like opting for full-fat dairy as opposed to low-fat


Ludwig, D. S. (2012). Effects of dietary composition on energy expenditure during weight-loss maintenance. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 307(24), 2627-2634. Retrieved from

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