Boosting your Metabolism
What is my metabolism?
In simple terms, your metabolism is the chemical process by which your body converts food calories into usable energy. Specific proteins break down food into compounds and the energy from these compounds can either be stored in body tissues or utilised to power the body. The process of storing energy in order for the body to maintain itself and grow is known as anabolism or constructive metabolism. Catabolism, also known as destructive metabolism, is the process whereby carbohydrates and fats are broken down on order to release energy and fuel the body.
The speed of your basic metabolic rate (the speed at which they burn calories while resting) can vary according to factors such weight, level of fitness, muscle mass and even your genetic makeup. If you have a slow metabolism you may feel sluggish and low on energy, and find it harder to lose weight. However, there are ways to speed up your metabolism, the most effective being to do more exercise.
How does exercise boost my metabolism?
Our bodies uses up calories all the time, even when we are at resting. But when you exercise the extra exertion causes your metabolism to speed up, thus burning more calories. Your metabolism will even carry on working at a higher speed in the hour or so after you have stopped exercising.
Even more importantly, exercise builds muscle mass, and muscle tissue burns many more calories than fat tissue. This will give you a higher basic metabolic rate and make it easier to lose weight. This is one of the reasons why exercise is such a good way of kick-starting weight loss if you've hit a bit of a dieting plateau. Vary your training schedule by including resistance training and high intensity cardio activity in order to stop your body from becoming too accustomed to one regime.
What else speeds up my metabolism?
Although exercise is undoubtedly the best way to boost your metabolism, there are a few other tricks to help improve it. These include:
- Eating small meals and snacks at regular intervals. Consuming small amounts of food at regular intervals keeps your metabolism ticking over all day.
- Always eating breakfast. This is the most important meal of the day as it kicks starts your metabolism and gets your body burning calories. Missing out on breakfast encourages your body to store fat.
- Drinking cold water. As well as increasing your basic metabolic rate this helps remove toxins from the body.
What if slows it down?
Your metabolism is not a fixed entity and can slow down as well as speed up. Many people assume that your metabolism slows down as you get older, but this can simply be due to decreasing levels of fitness and muscle mass.
Excess dieting will also have a detrimental effect on your basic metabolic rate. This is because if you dramatically cut down on the amount of food you consume your body will go into 'starvation mode', whereby it protects its fat stores and becomes extremely efficient at using calories from muscle tissue. In turn, this process depletes your muscle mass, therefore lowering your basic metabolic rate making it harder than ever to shift those extra pounds. This explains why crash dieting never works as a long-term solution to weight loss; your metabolism slows down and simply hangs on to all the calories you consume once you start eating normally again.