A common myth about metabolism is that skinny people have higher metabolic rates, whilst those heavier ones amongst us have a ‘slow’ metabolic rate.
In turn, this leads to skinny people burning more calories, whilst heavier people burn less and thus gain weight. Indeed, this whole idea has caused disagreement and controversy amongst medical experts for many years.
However, in reality, obese people who carry a lot of fat have a higher metabolism than skinny people who do not.
How does Metabolism Work?
There are two main parts to the metabolic system.
Firstly, there is catabolism. This is the process whereby food and nutrients are chemically broken down to produce energy. This part of metabolism fuels the muscles and heats up the body.
Secondly, we have anabolism. What is this ? Well, it is the way that the body stores and uses energy from the food, including fats and carbohydrates.
So, the whole process of metabolism involves maintaining a balance between the above two processes. Obviously, the type of food you take in and your body composition play an important role in metabolism.
How to boost your metabolism?
1) Build Muscle
Many medical studies show that the resting metabolic rate is higher in people with more lean muscle fat (or muscle).
The resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the amount of energy it takes for your body to maintain the basic functions whilst at rest.
So, the solution for those of you wishing to lose weight is to increase your muscle mass. Now, any regular exercise will help with this but medical studies show that strength training or resistance training is the most effective method of doing this.
Indeed, a 2012 medical study shows that adults who do not exercise have a 3% to 8% loss of muscle mass over a decade leading to weight loss. On the other hand, after only 10 weeks of resistance training, lean body mass increased by 1.4 kg. Furthermore, the resting metabolic rate increased by 7%.
2) Try to Reduce your Stress Levels
Stress, as we all know, can have a wide variety of effects on the body. So, when a person undergoes a physical or emotional trauma, adrenaline and cortisol are released into the body.
These hormones trigger a chemical response to supply the body with the energy it needs to ‘fight or flight’. So, you would imagine that stress may lead to weight loss and initially, for some, it does. However, cortisol also works by breaking down muscle too, so long term stress may actually reduce your metabolism.
To counteract the damaging health effects of chronic stress, try practicing yoga or meditation along with your regular exercise routine. Also, don’t forget to take some time out just for you, listen to your favorite music or take up a creative hobby.
3) Drink Water
Water is very important to your overall health, and is especially useful for weight loss.
The reason water is so beneficial to weight loss is that it increases the metabolic rate by around 30% according to a 2003 research study. This study shows that it is the thermogenic effect of drinking water that lowers the metabolic rate. Indeed, drinking just 500
Also, drinking lots of water throughout the day decreases the appetite. Why? because the signals for thirst and hunger are very similar and we can often mix them up.
4) Add More Protein to your Diet
Protein has a higher thermic effect than carbohydrates or fats. What does this mean? Well, the body needs to burn more calories just to digest protein, than it does for fatty foods or carbohydrates.
Furthermore, one medical study claims that there is ‘convincing evidence’ that a higher protein diet increases thermogenesis and thus boosts metabolism. (Thermogenesis is the way that the body burns calories to produce heat).
In addition, proteins increase satiety. This means that after eating proteins, you will feel fuller for longer, so preventing snacking on all those unhealthy snacks.
5)Drink Green Tea
However, some of these studies are contradictory or inconclusive. There is a lot of debate especially around how much green tea it is necessary to drink to promote weight loss.
What is all the fuss about ? Well, green tea contains catechins, a natural phenol and antioxidant. Whatever the medical debate, there can be no harm in swapping some of those unhealthy soft drinks for a nice green tea brew.
6) Eat Often and Do NOT diet
This one is very true. Try and avoid very low calorie diets and skipping meals.
Many scientific studies have shown that extreme dieting, or meal skipping, actually leads to weight gain in the long term. The problem is that when you eat substantially less calories than your body needs to function it skips into, what is known as, survival mode. So, the metabolic rate actually slows down to preserve energy and resources.
To maintain your metabolic rate, or give it a boost:-
- Eat 3 to 4 small, healthy meals a day
- Never skip breakfast. In fact, eat a healthy protein rich breakfast every day
- Take a couple of healthy snacks throughout the day
Say it again Doc, ‘Do NOT diet’.
but it’s more very low calorie fad diets.
A little bit more about metabolism
Before deciding to go on any diet change or beginning a new fitness program, you should first analyze your current metabolism. Ask yourself why your metabolic rate may be a little slow or fast. There may be medical reasons as to why your metabolic rate is slower than it should be. These include:-
- Hypothyroidism (Underactive thyroid gland)
- Menopause (low estrogen levels)
- Low testosterone levels
- Age (the older you get the slower the metabolism)
- Obesity (low levels of muscle in comparison to fat)
- Some medications
- Hereditary factors
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