Understanding Metabolism

There’s a lot of talk about metabolism and how it affects your body’s ability to lose weight.  Before you can begin to boost your metabolism, let’s get a basic understanding of what exactly it is.  Metabolism are the life sustaining chemical reactions that take place within the cells of an organism in order to maintain life.  These chemical reactions include converting food to fuel and energy, as well as using the nutrients in food to help maintain our body’s building blocks such as lipids and protein.  Your metabolic system also helps in the elimination of nitrogenous waste.  The breaking down process is known to as catabolism and the building up phase is known as anabolism.

Metabolics and BMR

The term Basal (or Resting) Metabolic Rate is commonly referred to when discussing if you have a “fast” or “slow” metabolism.  Your basal metabolic rate is deals with the basic essentials your body needs to function, even while you sleep.  This includes breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells.  There are many factors that determine your basal metabolic rate.  One of them is body composition.  The larger your body composition, the more muscle you have.  Since maintaining muscles burns more calories than fat, the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism needs to work.  Another factor that affects your BMR is your gender.  Men generally have less body fat than women and more muscle mass than women.  Sorry ladies, this means men are generally going to burn more calories at rest than we are.  I know, right?  This is why when you and your hubby go on a diet together and he seem to be losing weight and inches at a faster rate than you, it’s not your fault!  It’s just basic science.  Also affecting your BMR is your age.  Unfortunately, the older you get, the more your metabolism naturally slows down too.

Calories and Weight Loss

While you can’t control your basal metabolic rate, you can control other aspects of your metabolism and calorie burning such as physical activity.  These activities can be adjustments to your aerobic, strength training, and lifestyle activities.  When it comes to aerobic activity, you want to get at least 30 minutes in.  Studies have shown that interval training, or HIIT, is the most effective way to way burn calories through aerobic activity.  It is also recommended to engage in strength training.  Strength training at least twice a week is extremely beneficial for building muscle.  As discussed above, muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue; therefore, muscle mass is key in weight loss.  There are some lifestyle activities you can also do that will help increase your calorie burning.  These include things like taking the stairs, grabbing a parking spot that is further away, engaging in housework, washing your car, and walking the dog.  When you add all of these activities up, a little goes a long way.  To ensure that your metabolism doesn’t stall out, one of the key things to do is making sure you are eating breakfast every single day.  When you’re sleeping, you’re not eating, and when you’re not eating, your body goes into starvation mode.  This slows down your metabolism as way a to conserve energy.  In order to “break” this “fast” and engage your metabolism as soon as possible, you need breakfast.  Don’t skip it!

What To Eat

Speaking of breakfast, let’s get into some foods that can help spike your metabolism.  There are great ways to incorporate foods that help speed it up.  Some of the drinks you can have are coffee, green tea, and cold water.  Sipping on cold water makes your body work to heat the water to body temperature, burning more calories.  When it comes to fruits and vegetables, choose to eat fruits with high pectin, such as apples and pears, with the skin on.  Avocado and broccoli are also great foods that impact metabolism.  Switching to the “surf” part of your dining, try to incorporate fish high in Omega 3 such as salmon and tuna, as well as having some oysters and a nice seaweed salad.  Eggs and olive oil are also great ingredients to use.  Many people watching their fat intake choose to stick to egg whites, but if you want to boost your metabolism, eating the whole egg is your best bet.  Rolled oats, because of their density, also require quite of bit of energy in the catabolistic phase so that’s a great breakfast option.  And let’s not forget the beast of metabolic boosters, chili peppers!  Peppers contain capsaicin which really help rev the engine.  Something I like to do is drink a lemon cayenne drink as soon as I wake up.  It boosts metabolism and aids in digestion.  The mixture is simple: 8 ounces of warm water, 2 tablespoons of organic natural lemon juice (not the kind you find in those lemon shaped containers), and 1/10 to an 1/8 of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder (depending on how much heat you can handle).  Stir well and drink it down.

Metabolism Boosting Supplements

When it comes to metabolism boosting supplements, Performance Inspired has you covered.  The Performance Diet and Energy capsules are a great supplement to incorporate in your daily routine.  Not only does it boost metabolism and beat back hunger, it also increases focus and stamina.  Take 2 capsules, 1 to 2 times daily.   It’s best to take the servings 30 minutes before your largest meals.  At $19.99 a bottle, it’s well worth the money.  Ripped Whey, which has an added thermogenic agent, and is personally my favorite Performance Inspired product, is amazing at getting that boost and continuing the burn after a workout.  With 25 grams of protein per scoop, this is a great way to give your muscles the adequate amount of protein needed after a workout and boost that desired after-burn.

Check With a Professional

If you want to get down to making this personal, sit down with a dietician, nutritionist, or certified trainer to help you in understanding how many calories you should be consuming and if you want to take it a step further, break it down into macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrates) grams per day.  Remember, the only way to lose weight is to have a deficit of calories burned to calories consumed so if you want to get serious about losing weight, take the right steps.  Don’t make this deficit too drastic though because if you do, your body will enter that starvation mode I talked about earlier, actually slowing down your metabolism to conserve energy.  There are also a few online calculators to help determine your BMR or, if you love math (sorry, I don’t, I’m an English teacher for a reason!), your can try out the Harris-Benedict Equation.  Honestly though, if you want to make a concerted effort, I’d invest in a session or two with a professional to get quality advice and direction.

Fun Fact

Bonus fact for you: the hummingbird has the fastest metabolism in the entire animal kingdom.  Why?  Because it is necessary in order for it to survive.  With their little wings beating anywhere from 60-80 times per second, it can’t help but burn calories.  It needs this to take care of themselves, not to compete with others.  This should be everyone’s attitude when it comes to our bodies.  Everyone’s composition and metabolism is different so do what is right for you!



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