Metabolism is a word that we hear all the time. Most of us know that if ours is slow we will probably gain weight.
But do we know what it means precisely?
Metabolism is the one word that describes ALL of the biochemical reactions in your body. It is how your body takes in oxygen and nutrients and uses it to fuel everything you do.
Our bodies are pretty amazing and we can sometimes take them for granted but think about all the cool stuff they can do. They have the ability to heal themselves, make us grow and to actually keep us alive day in and day out. But without this biochemistry none of this would be possible..
Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:
- Allow activities you can control (e.g. Physical activities like walking, exercise etc.).
- Allow activities you can’t control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
- Allow storage of excess energy for later.
When you put the above processes together into your metabolism you can see how they can work together too slowly, quickly or just right.
This brings us to the next piece of the puzzle…Metabolic rate.
What is this I hear you ask…Metabolic rate is how quickly your Metabolism actually works and is measured in calories.
The calories you eat go to one of three places:
- Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
- Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).
- Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).
Logically the more calories you can burn as work or heat the less are left over and stored as fat in your body and the easier it is to lose weight.
There are actually a couple of ways that Metabolic Rate can be measured, the first is Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses at rest or not moving around.
The second is the Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) which is the measurement of both your resting metabolic rate and the energy used for work (e g. Exercise) during a 24 hour period.
What can affect your metabolic rate?
In short, LOTS.
The first thing to most people’s mind is the Thyroid. It’s a gland at the front of your throat that releases hormones that tell your body to speed up your metabolism. They more hormones the Thyroid releases the faster things work and the more calories you burn.
Another thing that affects your metabolic rate is size. How big or how small you are.
Large people do have a higher metabolic rate but, the composition of your body is super important!
It is to be expected that muscles that move more and do more work need more energy that fat does. Because of this the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body is going to burn and your metabolic rate will be higher, even when you’re not working out.
Because you muscles to be burning the calories weight training is commonly recommended as part of most weight loss programmes.
Often what happens when people lose weight is their metabolic rate slows down, but this is what you don’t want to happen so you want to offset that with more muscle mass.
So keep lifting those weights!
Aerobic exercises and cardio also increase your metabolic rate but only temporarily as your muscles are burning fuel just by working and moving around.
Of course, food also affects your metabolic rate. Your body actually burns calories just in the process of digesting, absorbing and metabolising your food. It’s call the Thermic Effect of Food(TEF).
When you understand how your body metabolises different foods in different ways you can use this to your advantage!
If you were to exchange some of your fat or carbs for lean protein instead you can actually increase your metabolic rate. This is because fats increase your TEF by 0-3%, carbs by 5-10 and protein 15-30%!!
Another great benefit of increasing your lean protein intake is that your muscles actually need it to grow. So by feeding them what they actually need and working out they will help you lose weight AND keep it off!
Food and exercise aren’t the only thing that affect the metabolic rate, stress and lack of sleep has a huge influence on it too so it is just as important to make sure you eliminate as much stress from your life as you can and to also catch some extra ZZZ’s if you are not getting enough.
We are just scratching the surface when it comes to all things to do with your metabolism and how a variety of things can affect your metabolic rate in a positive or negative way, however what you can and should take away from this article is –
* Moving better helps
* Eating better helps
* Resting better helps
* Doing nothing does NOT help, so get out there, take some action today!
Enjoy this metabolic friendly recipe!
Bren “fat burner” Ryan
Precision Nutrition Coach Lvl 1
Recipe (Lean Protein): Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts
2 lemons, sliced
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
dash salt & pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive old
Preheat oven to 220 degrees. Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.
Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper. Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with a lid or foil.
Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If you want the chicken to be a bit more “roasty” then remove the lid/foil and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!