When is comes to diets, weight loss, and working out a word that is commonly thrown around is metabolism. A lot of clients ask me questions like: what exactly is metabolism? Why is it important? How do I speed it up? And does it get slower as I age? I felt this article would help clear up some myths and misunderstandings about metabolism.
The definition for the word metabolism as found on Wikipedia is as follows: “the set of chemical reactions that happen in living organisms to sustain life. These processes allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments”. Huh? Basically, metabolism ishow many calories your body burns in a day to do what it does everyday. Whether you are eating, drinking, sleeping, or cleaning, your body is constantly burning calories to keep you going.
Basal Metabolic Rate: this is the speed of your metabolism (amount of calories you burn) without doing any activity, even just lying on the couch all day. This is normally anywhere from 1,200 calories a day and up.
What determines the speed of my metabolism?
Body composition greatly determines the speed of your metabolism, meaning the amount of muscle you have versus the amount of fat. Muscle uses more calories to maintain itself than fat, hence an increased metabolism for those with a higher percentage of muscle mass than body fat. Metabolism is also affected by the way you eat. For example, those who go on calorie-reduced “diets”, their metabolism will actually slow down in order for the body to survive (the body thinks it’s starving). Those who eat smaller meals more frequently tend to a have higher metabolism and burn more fat than those who “diet” and consume less calories each day. Type of exercise also affects metabolism, for example, performing resistance training to increase lean muscle tissue combined with a few sessions of high intensity interval training will have a greater long term and short term affect on metabolism than performing long bouts of steady state cardio (walking, jogging, cycling). Other factors could also include genetics, body type, and age.
Tips to increase metabolism and turn your body into a fat burning machine!
• Eat smaller meals more frequently. This means no “dieting”! Eat a diet that is low in fat, higher in protein, and lower in complex carbohydrates. The average person should aim to eat at least 5-6 times per day shooting for 3 small meals with 2-3 snacks in-between at similar times each day.
• Eat within 15-30 minutes of waking up in the morning. Even if you are not hungry EAT BREAKFAST! The metabolism goes to sleep while you are asleep, so eating something first thing in the morning tells your body you are awake and to start burning calories.
• Don’t be afraid of lifting heavy weights. In order to gain muscle mass and decrease body fat percentage you must lift weights heavy enough to challenge the body. Performing 20 reps of an exercise with little 3lbs dumbbells will not get the job done. Ladies this means you too!
• Perform short bouts of intense cardio instead of long steady state cardio. Don’t get me wrong, steady state cardio training is still a good way to burn calories and decrease fat, but I am a firm believer that performing short bouts of intense interval training burns more fat and keeps the metabolism burning up to 24-48 hours after a workout.
Email Michelle@Core-Condition.com for more information about how to increase your metabolism and be more productive in the gym.
Michelle Roots BA Kin, CSCS, PES