It’s easy to blame your shrink-resistant waistline on a slow metabolism. But the reality is, that’s not usually the culprit keeping you from reaching your ideal weight.
What is Metabolism?
Metabolism is your body’s method of converting calories, from the food you eat, into energy needed to power all the physiological processes that keep you alive and kicking 24/7. The minimum amount of energy your body needs to keep you going is called Base Metabolic Rate (BMR).
Calories in food – protein, fat and carbohydrates – fuel your BMR. Each of us requires a unique daily number of calories to maintain BMR so we can breathe, grow, think, sleep, digest food, and filter waste.
Age and lifestyle are significant factors in calculating BMR. If you sit more than you move each day, your BMR is lower and your daily calorie needs are lower, too.
It’s in My Genes!
Your genes (and hormones) play a role in metabolism because they can influence the potential you have to grow muscles and how your body stores fat. However, genetic and hormonal mechanisms in metabolism are extremely complex. There are no definitive theories. Yet, many people have lost a tremendous amount of weight (and kept it off) despite their family history. Many health experts agree, “Your genes are not your fate.”
Chances are your ‘slow metabolism’ has more to do with your diet and the type of exercise you are (or are not) doing on a regular basis.
If your exercise routine builds lean muscle, that helps rev-up your metabolism. Muscle tissue requires more energy to maintain than fat tissue. This is why people with leaner bodies (a higher muscle to fat ratio) have a higher BMR. (Those are the folks who eat carrot cake that doesn’t ‘go right to their hips.’)
Build a 24-Hour Fat Burning Body!
The first key to revving-up metabolism is eating a whole foods diet: lean protein, high quality grains, plant-based fats and oils, fresh fruits and veggies, and drinking lots of water.
To really turn-up the heat on your metabolism, and your waistline, you’ll want to try the muscle-building workouts such as Circuit Training, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Metabolic Conditioning workouts. These workouts help your body generate a ‘post-exercise burn’ that can rev up your metabolism for 2 -24 hours after you finish a workout. Factors that determine the after-burn effect include your current fitness level and body composition, the intensity and duration of exercise, and type of exercise performed.
One popular working out is CrossFit. It’s done in a group activity involving a variety of functional movements that engage the whole body at a relatively high intensity. The routines involve running, rowing, squatting and other exercises that support the way your body moves on a daily basis. The aim is to generate maximal power in as little time as possible to get stronger and fitter.
Want to calculate your BMR? It’s as easy as going to:
Photo credit: andres/bigstockphoto.com
- American College of Sports Medicine. http://www.acsm.org/search-results?q=metabolic%20training Accessed on March 10, 2016. – includes items listed below:
- “Factors that Influence Daily Caloric Needs.” (Bushman, B.) http://www.acsm.org/public-information/acsm-blog/factors-that-influence-daily-calorie-needs
- “Metabolism is Modifiable with the Right Lifestyle Changes.” (2011).https://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/acsm-in-the-news/2011/08/01/metabolism-is-modifiable-with-the-right-lifestyle-changes
- “High-Intensity Interval Training.” (2014; brochure: Kravitz, L. ed.). https://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/high-intensity-interval-training.pdf
- NHS.com. “How Can I Speed Up My Metabolism?” (last reviewed Mar 2015). Accessed on March 10, 2016. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/loseweight/Pages/how-can-I-speed-up-my-metabolism.aspx
- For a lay person’s guide to metabolism myths and facts, please see: Le, Trinh. “A Beginner’s Guide to Your Metabolism.” (last reviewed Feb 2016). Accessed on March 10, 2016. http://blog.myfitnesspal.com/a-beginners-guide-to-your-metabolism/?native_client=1
- “Evidence based exercise – clinical benefits of high intensity interval training.” Aust Fam Physician (2012) Dec; 41:12. 960-2. PMID: 23210120PMID: 23210120. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23210120
- Marcinko, Katarina et al. “High Intensity Interval Training Improves Liver and Adipose Tissue Insulin Sensitivity.” Molecular Metabolism 4.12 (2015): 903–915. PMC. Web. 10 Mar. 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4731736/
- McCAll, Pete. “How to Get Real Results with Metabolic Conditioning.” American Council on Exercise Blog (2012). https://www.acefitness.org/blog/2936/how-to-get-real-results-with-metabolic
- Glassman, G. & Glassman, P. “Metabolic Conditioning Glossary.” CrossFit Journal Articles. (2006). Accessed on March 10, 2016. http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/10_03_met_cond_glosry.pdf
- CrossFit.com “What is Crossfit?” Accessed on March 10, 2016. https://www.crossfit.com/what-is-crossfit
- Kravitz, L. “Metabolic Effects of HIIT” University of New Mexico. Accessed on March 10, 2016. https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/metabolicEffectsHIIT.html
- Interview with Dr. Dean Ornish. Personal Communication, 2009-2010.