Definition: Metabolism refers to all bodily processes that occur, from chemical reactions, to digestion and nutrient transportation. The speed of Metabolisms refers to how readily these processes take place and how much energy is consumed while they occur. In short, it describes the amount of nutrients and energy that is required to keep your body functioning in its current state.
1. Understand Your Own Metabolism
Whatever state your Metabolism is in, you must know that it will change over time depending on the lifestyle you lead. How much muscle you have, how active you are, what and how much you eat, your hormonal profile, your food tolerances, your digestive efficiency and your typical bio-rhythms all contribute to Metabolic Rate (MR). Your current MR is what your body needs to keep things how they are; your weight, your body composition (to a point) and what is needed to perform your weekly tasks. So, it makes sense that if you want your MR to change then something about your lifestyle and body must also change. Luckily those are two things that can change a great deal, which will translate to the Metabolism. Whenever you question the nature of your Metabolism, you must first acknowledge how your life and body composition influence it.
NOTE: You can roughly find out how fast your current Metabolic Rate is by taking a weekly average of calorie intake and weekly average body weight. If your body weight stays the same then you know that your weekly average calories are your 'maintenance calories' and they roughly describe how much energy your body needs on a daily basis to stay the same. This is the amount that will either increase, decrease or stay the same depending on lifestyle factors.
2. Build Metabolic Tissue
Just like no calorie is created equal with regards to nutrition, no body cell is created equal in terms of energy and nutrient consumption. Muscle cells are described as 'Metabolic Tissue' for the sole reason that they are energetically expensive. A lot of energy and nutrients are required to maintain muscle cells, and therefore every time a muscle cell grows larger so does its nutritional requirement, pushing up the Metabolism. As a result, building and maintaining muscle mass is the only way to permanently raise Resting Metabolic Rate. Conversely, Fat cells are not Metabolic, but they still need feeding; Because body fat is a source of fuel, the body will use body fat from Fat cells for energy in varying amounts during the day. These empty (or partially empty) Fat cells will need refilling each day, which will require energy from the diet, so current MR also includes the refilling of lost body fat. However, when on a Fat loss diet these Fat cells will not be totally refilled, which causes a reduction in body fat over time.
3. Increase Average Heart Rate
Average Heart Rate is different to Resting Heart Rate. Average Heart Rate describes the amount of work your Heart performs over the period of the entire day, rather than your Heart Rate while at complete rest. So, increasing Average Heart Rate can be done by working out, going for a walk or run, or just being active in general throughout the day. Even standing up instead of sitting down will increase Average Heart Rate. As MR is also related to Average Heart Rate, then controlling activity throughout the day will give you more control over the Metabolism. During a Fat loss program it can be extremely useful to include more moderate activity throughout the day in order to slowly increase Metabolic Rate, and increase Fat burn. Conversely, the opposite can be done in order to slow down Metabolism.
4. Increase Food Intake
The more you eat the faster the Metabolism gets. The body has Hormones (Leptin) that control the Metabolism and these are stimulated by high energy intake. Plus, as body fat increases due to an energy surplus being consumed, more Fat cells are in need of being refilled each day. Remember, just because your Metabolism is increasing does not mean you cannot put on body fat, the overeating rule still applies and body fat will accumulate quickly, all it means is that eventually more food will be required in order to continually increase body fat over time. Stimulating Metabolism with huge amounts of food is basically what most overweight individuals have unwittingly done as part of their lifestyle, and it is the fundamental reason why food intake does not need to be drastically cut down in order for them to lose weight. As increasing food intake raises Metabolism, cutting food intake lowers it, so eating very small amounts will result in crashing the Metabolism - which is a nightmare for both Fat loss and muscle building. When trying to lose body fat aim for a dietary energy deficit of only 300 calories, while performing an intense workout program and keeping active.
5. Improve Metabolism With Better Food Choice
What you eat directly correlates to the chemical reactions those nutrients solicit in the body, and therefore how the Metabolism responds. No calorie is created equal and calories from Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate do remarkably different things in the body. More overall calories can be eaten if they are eaten in the form of Protein and Fat from whole food sources. This is because whole food forms of Protein and Fat create more heat during digestion through thermogenesis. In short, there is less net gain in energy from rich whole food sources of Protein and Fat then rich sources of Carbohydrate, even if the same amount of calories are consumed. If the digestive system has to work harder and expend more energy in order to absorb nutrients then this has a positive effect on Metabolism, as more energy is burned at rest. This in turn is a useful tool while on a Fat loss diet, as Macro-nutrient ratios and food choices can be altered first, before the need for immediate calorie cuts.
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