How You Can Control Your Metabolism
There are so many factors that come into play when anyone decides they want to start losing weight or building muscle. While some may focus strictly on their diet, others may focus on their exercise regime.
Whatever your area of focus, successful weight loss will always come down to one important idea (whether or not you know it) - your metabolism.
This word - metabolism, is one we hear quite often. Many describe it as the energy system for the body, yet even on the most simple level, it is much more complex than that.
Your metabolism is not just important for weight loss, but also for your personal health and vitality. A slow metabolism can lead to fatigue, weight gain and a general lack of results in and outside of the gym.
The struggles with weight loss and increasing your muscle mass can easily be tackled by understanding what your metabolism is, how it functions and how you can increase it.
Introduction to Metabolism
Listen, we totally get it - leading a healthy life can be difficult with a fast food joint on every corner selling a burger for a dollar. With that in mind, being good to yourself and looking for healthy alternatives can make a big difference if you are trying to lose weight.
Working out and having a healthy diet are great starting points, but in order to truly manage your weight loss and bring energy back into your life, you should lead an active lifestyle.
All of this is in an effort to have better control over your metabolism.
What is Metabolism
On a fundamental level, your metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy.
Even at rest, your metabolism is still working, burning calories to enable breathing, circulation of blood, adjustment of hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells - this is called your
Basal Metabolic Rate.
At rest, your body uses nutrients - but in lower amounts. Sitting down requires much less energy to fuel muscle than running. With that in mind, if we are moving more often, always trying to stay active, when we do rest - our basal metabolic rate will be higher due to the increased activity we engaged in on a daily basis.
Example: Someone who works as a construction worker will have a higher metabolic rate than someone who works in an office. The higher metabolic rate is because the construction worker is constantly moving and burning energy while working. They may also eat more frequently, which could increase metabolism (we’ll touch on that later).
Even if you do not workout or have a manual job, staying active through simple things like parking farther away from the office or taking the stairs can make a huge difference.
Put simply: The more you move, the higher your metabolic rate.
Movement is directly linked to your metabolism. When you are more active your body must use more energy to fuel your exercise or activity.
An athlete who trains for 3 hours a day will have a faster metabolism than the average person - simply because they are constantly moving and using working muscle.
Factors such as your weight, activity levels, diet and much more come into play when you try to increase your metabolic rate to burn more calories.
Basal Metabolic Rate
Perhaps the most interesting component of your metabolism is your basal metabolic rate. This rate is the amount of energy you expend while at rest. Yup, while you sit on the couch, watching TV or playing video games your body is still using energy - for circulation, recovery of muscle (important) and even breathing.
As with any potential boost to metabolism, increasing your basal metabolic rate will enable you to effectively burn more calories throughout the day.
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
Bleh, what a ridiculous name, let's just call this NEAT from now on. NEAT is the amount of calories or energy your body uses when you ARE NOT engaging in intentional exercise (working out, running etc).
NEAT is the combination of your basal metabolic rate (discussed earlier) and the thermic effect of food. Increasing your NEAT comes down to leading the most active lifestyle possible (we’ll get to this).
What is the Thermic Effect of Food?
Every food you eat needs to be digested and metabolized in order to be used as energy or pushed away as waste.
This process of digesting food also requires energy and creates the thermic (heat) effect of burning food and converting the calories into energy - but this comes at a cost.
Example: If you eat a chicken breast, your body will then metabolize that food into amino acids. This process of converting the nutrients (protein) from the chicken into metabolites (amino acids) for fuel, requires energy in itself - this is the thermic effect of food.
Increasing your NEAT is as simple as getting more active throughout the day so that your basal metabolic rate increases and your body utilizes more food as energy, burning the calories.
Here are some things you can do to increase your NEAT
- Take a walk to the kitchen during commercial breaks
- Stand up more often at work
- Park your car further away from the office
- Clean up around the house
How to Increase Metabolism
Increasing your metabolism comes down to several factors - some of which we do not have full control of.
Factors such as gender, age and even ethnic origin can affect your metabolic rate. Fortunately, there are also several factors that we can control and manipulate to increase our metabolic rate.
Eat Balanced, Whole-Foods
Eating a balanced diet that focuses on whole-foods and supplementing when needed are age-old methods for losing weight and building a healthy body. With that in mind, the most effective way to lose weight is to have a high protein intake and try not to overeat.
Keep it simple and don’t complicate things!
The most influential way you can make long-standing changes to your metabolism is to engage in regular exercise. Not only does one workout help to improve your total calorie utilization in a day, but the effects of resistance training (weights) will drastically influence your basal metabolic rate.
At the end of the day, consistent exercise will lead to positive outcomes with weight loss as it helps to increase your metabolism both through caloric consumption and basal metabolic rates.
Great nutrition and regular exercise will take you pretty far, but if you're looking for a physique of greatness you may need to look to supplements to help provide a little extra push.
Here are the best supplements for boosting metabolism:
Green Tea Extract (caffeine)
Caffeine has a direct influence on the thermic effect of food - in other words, it will help your body to best metabolize and utilize the nutrients you provide it. Additional to this thermic effect, caffeine has diuretic and appetite suppressant qualities which can make it a very effective tool for overall weight loss.
This amino acid may not have a direct impact on boosting your metabolic rates, although supplementation has been shown to have a huge impact on lipolysis or fat oxidation. Higher doses of l-carnitine are great for the development of muscle tissue and can help to best utilize fat as fuel - perfect for weight loss and metabolism enhancement.
As an active component in chilli peppers, you may not want to over supplement with capsaicin, although most research will show very little adverse side effects. Capsaicin is one of the most effective supplements for enabling the greatest state of change for thermogenesis - specifically prior to a meal.
Supplementing 2-3g prior to a meal helps to promote a negative energy balance - which can be very effective for weight loss and boosts in total metabolic rates.
Yes, exercise and diet can be very effective tools for promoting weight loss, but leading an active lifestyle is just as important.
Here's an example of why staying active is important for weight loss:
Research found that the difference between sitting and standing for a day is a whopping 1300 calories - this is the equivalent of 1 whole BBQ chicken (with the skin).
Even the difference between seated work with the option to stand and move makes about a 30% difference in the total amount of calories your body burns each day.
Moral of the story; Try to stay more active throughout the day. If you catch yourself sitting for a while, get up and take a walk around the office - any movement is better than none and it really adds up!
Be In Control of Your Metabolism
There are numerous factors that come into play when you are trying to lose weight and boost metabolism. Chances are, if you've been struggling to lose weight for quite some time you may have a notoriously slow metabolism - this is quite common with endomorphs.
Although there are some genetic factors that contribute to your metabolism, there are several important factors that you can take into your own hands in order to increase your metabolism.
At the end of the day, increasing your metabolism is a game of numbers. Yes, eating whole foods will assist your body in faster digestion and an increased thermic effect of food, but things like consistent exercise and valuable lifestyle changes - getting more active will have the largest, long-standing effect on your total metabolic rate.
Keep it simple, exercise regularly, eat whole foods and do your best to maintain an active lifestyle. If these do not work for you it may be time to start looking into supplementation or specific training for a metabolic boost.