If there is one subject everyone seems to be talking about, it is metabolism and how to boost it in order to lose weight. So what is metabolism anyway and how do you increase it?
Metabolism is a complex process present in every living thing in one form or another. Metabolism is the biochemical process by which your body builds up body tissue in need of repair and breaks down food we ingest to make the energy needed to do this. From 60 to 65 % of your daily caloric intake is used just to support the daily chemical processes of cell repair and digestion to make the energy to do that cell repair. All the chemical changes that occur in cells to allow growth and change, maintain our bodily functions and break down the fuel we need to do this add together to make up metabolism. You remember the Krebs cycle from school? Who could possibly forget it! That’s metabolism; pretty complicated stuff. Basically just think of your body as a furnace and metabolism as the fire.
So why is it that some people seem to easily maintain a normal weight and others struggle? Is it just lack of will power or is there more to it. Who hasn’t heard someone shamefacedly say they have thyroid problems? The fact is some people do have thyroid problems and untreated this can cause weight gain but generally that’s not the cause of weight gain for most of us.
So what about metabolism? Can it be increased? To understand the answer you have to understand the basal metabolic rate. The basic metabolic rate is the amount of calories it takes to sustain a body at rest. Everyone’s basal metabolic rate is a little bit different. It’s based on many factors such as sex, weight, exercise level, muscle mass, dietary habits and age. Metabolism slows 5% per decade after age 40. Women naturally have less muscle mass than men and weigh less and so their metabolism are slower.
So is it possible to increase your metabolism? The answer is yes, to a degree. Your body interprets long periods without food as starvation and slows the body’s metabolism to conserve energy. That’s why eating breakfast is so important when trying to lose weight. It kick starts your metabolism. In addition, eating small frequent meals is better for your metabolism than less frequent large meals. It takes more energy to digest food high in protein and fiber so these foods are more “thermal” and help metabolism. 90% of your body’s chemical processes take water and most of us drink way too little water and are chronically dehydrated. Drinking adequate water can help your body’s digestion and metabolism. Muscle burns 73 more calories than fat at rest! Weight training to build muscle mass can help your metabolism. Having adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals necessary to body processes will help your body function better and thereby increase your metabolism. Frequent exercise burns calories and stoke the furnace of the body for several hours after stopping! All these actions can cumulatively result in both better health and weight loss.
Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any magic bullet, but making the changes above can increase your health and increase your metabolism resulting in weight loss.