We are bombarded it seems by information on our metabolism and how to make it work faster or keep it from slowing down, etc… All of this information coming at us can get a little confusing, but take the time to understand your metabolism and how you can make it work for you!
Our metabolism is basically the process of food converted into energy that we use to stay alive. The rate that this process occurs is dependent on many factors such as age, gender, activity level and weight. We have all heard that as we age our metabolism slows (great reason to stay active as you age!), and it is no secret that typically men have a higher metabolism than women – totally unfair! but we must live with it :). Also no secret is the fact that the more active we are the higher our metabolic rate (we will also discover the best exercises for a faster metabolism later on). The one factor that might surprise you is weight. Believe it or not, the more you weigh, the faster your metabolism. This may not seem logical at first, but now you understand why those last 5-10 lbs. are so hard to get rid of. Your metabolism slows a little as your weight decreases. There are ways to manage this though so don’t get scared about losing weight!
So where does all the energy from our food really go? About 65-70% goes to keep us alive – basic body functions run by our internal organs. This is also called RMR or resting metabolic rate – our metabolism at rest. Digestion and process of food storage, also known as the thermal effect of food (TEF) uses about 5%-10% of our energy. The remaining 30%-40% is used for activity or PAEE – physical activity expenditure. This “activity” obviously includes exercise but also minor activities such as washing dishes, vacuuming, washing the car, etc… Did you think more of the energy was used for activities ? I know I did. After looking at these percentages it seems like a good idea to find a way to raise our RMR’s don’t you think?
There are several ways to raise our metabolisms even if just for a short time. EPOC or excess post exercise consumption is a fancy term for the calorie “afterburn” from exercise. After an exercise session there is a period of time that our metabolisms work quicker and more calories are burned. The rate and number of calories is dependent mostly on the type, intensity and duration of the exercise. Studies have shown that a steady endurance workout results in fewer post exercise calories burned approximately 10-30 calories for an average 30 min to 1 hour session. However, interval or HIIT workouts seem to raise the metabolism for quite a bit longer as does strength training . Weight training and adding muscle to our frames is also a great way to boost the calorie burn. It seems that for EPOC, intensity and weight training are the winners. To keep it in perspective though we cannot rely on EPOC to allow us to indulge in our favorite treats post workout. In the whole scheme of things we are generally only talking about 100-200 gained if that even after very intense workouts.
Along with exercise, and what I feel affects or metabolism as much if not more than exercise is the way we eat. Extreme calorie restriction slows the metabolism, so they are NEVER a good idea. When it comes to food and losing weight the only successful plan is a healthy diet that you can stick too FOREVER. I always say that moderation wins in almost every situation and it couldn’t be more true that when it come s to the way we should eat. Here are some metabolism raising food facts!
1. Eat breakfast! – yes you have heard it many times, but your metabolism has been slowed down significantly during sleep so charge it up and eat within an hour after you get up.
2. Eat more fish! -Fish high in Omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon and trout charge your metabolism.
3. Eat lean protein and fiber! – Protein is harder for the body to digest and has a thermogenic effect. It takes more calories to digest both.
4. Eat every 3-4 hours to avoid cravings and to keep your metabolism fired up all day.
Choosing a healthy and balanced lifestyle when it comes to food choices and exercise will result in a better and quicker metabolism. finally don’t forget to get enough sleep (it also affects your metabolism) and to see your doctor if none of the above seems to work. A small % of the population is affected by thyroid conditions which may require medication – so get your thyroid checked!
Now that you are informed, go make some healthy choices and fire up your metabolism!