As we sprint to spring break, I thought I’d go back to basics with this week’s article…
You no doubt hear a lot about metabolism and know that it is somehow tied to your weight loss, but do you really understand it?
Consider this article as a crash course in metabolism…
We’ll sort out what you need to know about metabolism and how to make it work in your favor.
What is metabolism?
Basically, metabolism is the process by which your body breaks down fats, proteins and carbohydrates to produce the energy you need to survive. This energy is used to aid in digestion, nutrient absorption, tissue repair, physical movement and general maintenance of all of your organs and systems.
Bottom line: without metabolism, you would die.
Metabolic rate: Can you blame your parents?
Now that we have established everyone has a metabolism, it’s time to think about metabolic rate. This is where we start to see differences from person to person…
Simply put, the rate of your metabolism is the rate at which your body burns the calories that you take in. So the higher your metabolism rate is, the more calories you will burn on a daily basis.
People often think that their metabolism rate is rooted in their genetic makeup and is out of their control. Unfortunately, this thinking can lead to a laissez-faire or fatalistic attitude that reasons, “I’m overweight because of my genes, therefore I can’t do anything about it.”
The truth is that your genetic makeup only accounts for about 5% of your metabolic rate!
Therefore, no matter what your current weight or what genes your parents passed along to you, you are not a prisoner to the rate at which your body burns calories.
The other thing to ask yourself is:
“Are the members in my family (who are) overweight because of their genetics or because they eat like crap and don’t exercise?”
How to increase your metabolism
So the million dollar question is: “Can I increase my metabolic rate?”
And the million dollar answer is: Yes!
You can ramp up your body’s calorie burn. Here are some easy ways to change your metabolism just in time for spring:
1. Lift weights. Exercise is great for increasing metabolism. But you can’t exercise all the time. That’s okay; you don’t need to! When you lift weights, you create micro tears in your muscles that require energy to repair. This is called ‘after burn,’ and it refers to the increase in metabolism that occurs for 24 hours or more after you have had an intense weight lifting session. It’s a great way to keep burning calories long after you have left the gym! By the way, the high-intensity interval training formats we use at The Transformation Club been shown to be the very best way to burn calories with the ‘afterburn’ effect…
2. Don’t skip meals. It is a common misconception that skipping meals will help you lose weight. In fact, it will have just the opposite effect. If you do not give your body the calories it needs, it will think that you are literally starving. Your body’s response to starvation is to slow metabolism, conserve energy and store fat. This is the opposite of what you want to happen in order to lose weight. The number of meals per day will vary from individual to individual (4 is what we see work most often)– find what works for you and stick with it.
3. Drink water. Such a simple thing to do, but drinking about a pint of cold water may speed up your metabolism by 30% for up to an hour. The key thing to focus on with water is getting enough each day. We recommend 1 ounce for at least ½ your bodyweight; in other words, if I weigh 200 pounds, I should drink 100 ounces of water per day. Water is CRITICAL for digestion & metabolism. Drink up!
4. Eat breakfast and include protein. By eating breakfast, you kick start your metabolism for the day. Your metabolism remains sluggish from the time you get up until the first meal of the day. If you wait until lunch to have your first food, you will have lost several hours to a slow metabolism. Including protein with breakfast is smart because protein requires more energy to digest than do fats and carbohydrates. The more energy your body expends, the more calories you will burn.
*Note: there is evidence to suggest that delaying breakfast (intermittent fasting) may put your body in a better fat burning state hormonally, however, more often than not, people (especially women) tend to do best when they have breakfast in the morning. Weight loss studies continue to show this.
5. Don’t skip the cardio. Eating properly at proper intervals enables your body to get into a fat burning state. Doing cardio is what actually triggers the burning of fat for energy. Low to medium intensity cardio for 30-60 minutes burns fat without burning muscle.
The takeaway for you is this…
You are not a slave to your metabolism: YOU are in control. Follow these tips to ramp up your calorie burn and drop those extra pounds before spring!