Ever heard or used the excuse “oh I have a slow metabolism, that’s why I can’t lose weight”. So how true is that statement? Can your metabolic rate effect how much you weigh or how quickly you lose weight? Is your metabolism the reason why that when we age we mysteriously put on weight, even though we eat the same amount and our exercise routine remains the same?
Before I answer these questions and more what is metabolism?
Your metabolism, experts say, involves a complex network of hormones and enzymes that not only convert food into fuel but also affect how efficiently you burn that fuel. In the simplest terms, metabolic rate is the rate at which your body burns calories. A calorie is a unit of energy. For the human body, it’s referred to as “food energy”.
The process of metabolism establishes the rate at which we burn our calories and, ultimately, how quickly we gain weight or how easily we lose it.
Of course, not everyone burns calories at the same rate, here are a few factors that might be attributing to the rate at which you metabolism is burning your calories:-
- Your metabolism is influenced by your age -metabolism naturally slows about 5% per decade after age 40.
- Your sex – men generally burn more calories at rest than women because they inherently have more muscle tissue.
- Your proportion of lean body mass – the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate tends to be.
- Heredity – yes your parent’s metabolic rate will have an effect on yours.
So what do you do? On your 40th birthday do you decide “that’s it I will have to eat less and go to the gym more.” I suppose that would be a solution but that would mean at 50 you would have to drop more calories and go to the gym even more, at 60 the same again and so on……… PLEASE NO! Isn’t it enough to contend with getting older without having to spend the rest of our lives at the gym with hardly any food? I can’t think of anything worse!
The problem with eating less is that your body responds by becoming more efficient. You have a survival mechanism that helps to protect you from starvation and famine. When you begin to eat less, our body must access its own stored energy, within a rather short period of time there is a physiological response. A variety of “starvation hormones” are produced. They have the effect of slowing down you metabolic rate and conserving that food energy.
When you lose weight quickly, taking in less than 1,000 calories a day, your body will decide to make the best of a bad situation. The main way it does this is to protect its fat stores so it burns your lean tissue or muscle to provide it with the calories it needs to keep functioning. You will obviously lose weight at first but once your body has slammed the brakes on, your metabolic rate will slow, so the weight loss will slow down significantly and you will be left with a body that is flabby with no muscle tone, and once you start to eat normally again, the weight will pile on quickly as unfortunately your metabolic rate is now slower than before.
So although you can’t control you age, gender or genetics, you will be pleased to learn that there are other ways to boost your metabolic rate, read on for ways to rev it up:-
Our bodies constantly burn calories, even when we’re doing nothing. This resting metabolic rate is much higher in people with more muscle. Every pound of muscle uses about 6 calories a day just to sustain itself, while each pound of fat burns only 2 calories daily. That small difference can add up over time. In addition, after a bout of resistance training, muscles are activated all over your body, increasing your average daily metabolic rate.
Step Up Your Workout
Aerobic exercise may not build big muscles, but it can rev up your metabolism in the hours after a workout. The key is to push yourself. High-intensity exercise delivers a bigger, longer increase in resting metabolic rate than low- or moderate-intensity workouts. To get the benefits, try a more intense class at the gym or include short bursts of jogging or a faster pace during your regular walk.
Fuel Up with Water
The body needs water to process calories. If you are even mildly dehydrated, your metabolism may slow down. In one study, adults who drank eight or more glasses of water a day burned more calories than those who drank four. To stay hydrated, drink a glass of water or other unsweetened beverage before every meal and snack. In addition, try munching on fresh fruits and vegetables, which are full of fluid, rather than pretzels or chips.
Eating more really can help you lose weight — eating more often, that is. When you eat large meals with many hours in between, your metabolism slows down between meals. Having a small meal or snack every 3 to 4 hours keeps your metabolism cranking, so you burn more calories over the course of a day. Several studies have also shown that people who snack regularly eat less at meal time.
Spice Up Your Meals
Spicy foods contain chemical compounds that can kick the metabolism into a higher gear. Eating a tablespoon of chopped red or green chili pepper or adding fresh ginger to meals can boost your metabolic rate. The effect is likely temporary, but if you eat spicy foods often, the benefits may add up. For a quick boost, spice up pasta dishes, chili, and stews with red-pepper flakes.
Power Up with Protein
The body burns many more calories digesting protein as it uses for fat or carbohydrates. Although you want to eat a balanced diet, replacing some carbs with lean, protein-rich foods can boost the metabolism at mealtime. Healthy sources of protein include lean beef, turkey, fish, white meat chicken, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, and low-fat dairy products.
Booster Shot: Black Coffee
If you’re a coffee drinker, you probably enjoy the increased energy and concentration that follows your morning ritual. Taken in moderation, one of coffee’s benefits may be a short-term increase in your metabolic rate.
Recharge with Green Tea
Drinking green tea or oolong tea offers the combined benefits of caffeine and catechins, substances shown to rev up the metabolism for a couple hours. Research suggests that drinking two to four cups of either tea may push the body to burn 17% more calories than normal during moderately intense exercise for a short period of time.
The impact of different foods and drinks on the metabolism is small compared to what you need for sustained weight loss. Your best bet for creating a mean calorie-burning machine is to build muscle and stay active. The more you move during the day, the more calories you burn. And remember: working out in the morning has the benefit of revving up your metabolism for hours.