There’s a lot of talk about metabolism but what exactly is metabolism? What’s the connection between metabolism and calories and do I need to worry about it?
Do calories really count? Well, yes, they do but they’re not the only thing that matters when it comes to how much you weigh and how much energy you have. In other words its all about metabolism.
In a nutshell metabolism is all about how you take in oxygen and food and use them for energy, heat, and storage. But what’s really more important is how fast your metabolism works i.e. your metabolic rate.
But what you may really want to know is what affects your metabolic rate, and how you can use that to your advantage. Of course it’s not just about how much you eat but also about your hormones, body composition, and even what you eat counts! Also, it’s important to remember that the body changes, for example, as we age our metabolism slows down and we have to make adjustments accordingly by balancing nutrients.
Read on to gain further insight about your metabolism and what affects your metabolic rate.
Technically metabolism is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body. It’s how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.
Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal and generally stay alive. And without this amazing biochemistry you would not be possible.
Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:
- allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
- Allow activities you can’t control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins)
- Allow storage of excess energy for later
So when you put all these processes together into your metabolism you can imagine that these processes can work too quickly, too slowly or just right.
Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”. This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories).
The calories you eat can go to one of three places:
- Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
- Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).
- Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).
As you can imagine the more calories you burn as work or creating heat the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories stored for later.
There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate. One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you’re not being physically active.
The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.
What affects your metabolic rate?
In a nutshell: a lot!
The first thing you may think of is your thyroid. This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism. Of course the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn.
But that’s not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.
How big you are counts too!
Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial!
As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does. So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be. Even when you’re not working out.
This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program. Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you. More muscle mass also promotes bone mass-but that’s a topic for another post!
The thing is, when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don’t want to happen. So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.
Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they’re doing “work”.
There’s more; the type of food you also affects your metabolic rate!
Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food. This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).
You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.
Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%. By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.
The Metabolic Balance® Nutritional program takes out the guesswork by customizing a meal plan based on your unique body chemistry. If you want to learn more contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 778-363-0779, or click on the weight loss tab.
And don’t forget the mind-body connection. There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.
To learn more about managing your metabolism and which foods are right for you contact me at email@example.com or 778-363-0779.