Metabolism is one of the most misused and overused terms there are. Don’t feel badly if you don’t know exactly what it is, there are entire college semesters devoted in anatomy / physiology classes to break down and discuss just the metabolism of carbohydrates or protein or fats. Metabolism is a “catch all” word used and blamed by millions of people but maybe metabolism isn’t getting a fair rap. Maybe, just maybe metabolism is being blamed for a much bigger problem….
If I had a dollar for every time I heard the word metabolism ushered out in the conversation when someone was talking to me about fat loss and weight loss issues I would be a wealthy man. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are people that suffer from metabolic disorders like hypothyroidism (my family member has a doctor diagnosed case of hypothyroidism) but in all reality, many people use the old; “I have a bad thyroid” when in fact they do not. Hypothyroidism is very serious and should not be taken lightly. Today, I thought I would actually talk about just what exactly metabolism is, how we can increase our metabolism, and how we can determine our metabolic rate.
Metabolism is the amount of energy (calories) your body burns to maintain itself. Whether you are eating, drinking, sleeping, cleaning etc… your body is constantly burning calories to keep you going. A person’s metabolism is directly influenced by body composition.
Body composition is the amount of muscle you have versus the amount of fat. The percentage of fat vs. the percentage of muscle, organ, bone etc. make up your body composition. Muscle uses more calories to maintain itself than fat. People who are more muscular (and have a lower percentage of body fat) are said to have a higher metabolism than others that are less muscular. For example, let’s say you have two people who are the exact same height and weight. One exercises on a regular basis with weights, in addition to aerobic exercise, and has a low percentage of body fat. The other never exercises and has a higher percentage of body fat. The first person who exercises will have a higher metabolism than the second person. What this basically means is that person #1′s body will use more calories to sustain itself than person #2.
How can I Increase My Metabolism?
Begin to exercise and start a true, sound nutritional program. Studies have shown that dieting alone is the best way to lose lean tissue (muscle) and put any weight back on and then some after the dieting is over. If you’ve never exercised before, make sure you see a doctor before beginning a new exercise program, a sedentary lifestyle leads to an increase in adipose tissue and decreased muscularity. The more muscle a person has, the more calories it takes to support metabolically those muscles.
This can be accomplished in two ways:
First start on a resistance training program immediately; Lift progressively heavier weights that cause you to hit failure or near failure between 8-12 repetitions. The exercise selection should be focused primarily around compound movements, and minimize the use of single joint movements.
The second way is to decrease body fat stores by performing cardiovascular activity and vary your intensity and duration of the continuous rhythmic movement. By varying your intensity and duration, your body is forced to continually use body fat stores as energy.
Begin to exercise and stop dieting. If you’ve never exercised before, make sure you see a doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
How can I tell if I have a low metabolism?
After the age of 30, your body gradually begins to lose muscle. If your activity level stays the same and the amount of calories you eat stay the same, you will gain weight because your metabolism has slowed down, due to the fact that you have less muscle that needs those calories in order to be maintained. If you exercise with weights and do some type of aerobic activity on a regular basis, you probably won’t notice much of a change in your metabolism as you age.
Symptoms of slow metabolism include fatigue, feeling cold, dry skin, constipation, a slow pulse and low blood pressure. These symptoms could be the result of a medical condition rather than low metabolism – MAKE SURE YOU SEE YOUR DOCTOR to rule out any type of medical problem. If you eat a very low-calorie diet, your metabolism will slow down in order for your body to survive (the body perceives it as a famine.)
Does genetics play a role in determining my metabolism?
Depending upon your somatotype (body type) mesomorph (naturally muscular), ectomorph (naturally skinny) or endomorph (the naturally chubby) your metabolism can be naturally higher or lower. It only stands to reason the naturally muscular guy would have a higher metabolism.
Does type of exercise play a role in metabolism?
Your metabolism is elevated after short bouts of high intensity exercise. It is not clear cut as to how long the elevated state occurs. The benefit is well documented. Weight training has been shown to elevate metabolism more so than low intensity aerobics. Short run bursts or sprints have been shown to keep metabolism revving higher and longer than low levels such as walking.
You can keep your metabolism elevated and keep your lean physique you grew up with. There has to be a three pronged approach of: resistance training, cardiovascular exercise and sound nutritional programming. Keeping all three of these approaches on line will ensure you have the metabolism of your youth.