What is Metabolism?
The word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days.
You know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight. But what exactly does this all mean?
Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body. It's how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.
Your body has a powerful capacity to grow, heal, and generally stay alive. And without this amazing biochemistry you simply would not be here.
Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:
[if !supportLists]● manage activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
[if !supportLists]● manage activities you can't control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Allow storage of excess energy for later.
So when you put all of these processes together into your metabolism you can imagine that these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right.
Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”.
Metabolic rate: this is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!).
The calories you eat can go to one of three places:
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).
As you can imagine the more calories you burn as work or creating heat the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.
There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate. One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you're not being physically active.
The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.
What affects your metabolic rate?
In a nutshell: a lot!
The first thing you may think of is your thyroid. This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism. Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you'll burn.
But that's not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.
The size of your body counts too!
Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial!
As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does. So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be. Even when you're not working out.
This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program. Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.
The thing is, when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don't want to happen. So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.
Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they're doing “work”.
The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!
Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food. This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).
You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.
Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%. By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.
Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow. By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.
And don't forget the mind-body connection. There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.
You can get started by making sure you:
--> add resistance training to your workout routine,
-->eat a balanced diet with a focus on protein at each meal
-->be sure to get enough sleep and manage stress.
--> eat spicy foods, green tea and drink lots of water! Especially cold water!! So drink up!
-->Take every opportunity to get your body moving as much as possible! Take the stairs, go for a walk, get up from your desk and walk around or do some stretches, just keep regular movement in the mix!
We will post a recipe next to go along with this post! A simple Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breast to help you add in a protein base to your meal!