Outwitting Your Metabolism

What is metabolism?

Metabolism is the body’s process of breaking down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to yield the energy it needs to maintain itself.  The rate of your metabolism is based on the number of calories you consume and the number of calories you burn—both while eating and exercising and as a result of your individual genetic makeup.

Ways to increase your metabolism

The best way to jump start your metabolism is to increase your body’s need for energy.  While the body can burn calories from either fat, protein, or carbohydrates, the body normally prioritizes carbohydrates to burn over fat. Why?  Our bodies aren’t wasteful; they will only burn fat when they need to for energy.  We need to outsmart our primal instincts to conserve fat stores (we are animals after all, you never know where the next food source might be!) to jump start that metabolism and burn fat.  Here are some key actions you can take to increase your metabolism:

  • Interval training—when we integrate interval training in our fitness routine, we also maximize the calories burned after each of those workouts.  You burn extra calories, even at a resting state, after an interval training workout. It’s called the “after burn effect” and can last for several hours.
  • Add muscle mass—muscle burns more calories than fat.  Being more muscular boosts your body’s energy needs.  Adding muscle mass increases your resting metabolism. Each additional pound of muscle you carry can burn up to 50 additional calories just to maintain itself.
  • Eat foods that require extra energy to digest and metabolize—your body burns twice as many calories digesting high-protein foods as it does foods that are high in carbohydrates or fat.
  • Eat often but eat right—by eating frequently, you reassure your body that you aren’t going to starve. While recommendations vary, eating every 2 to 3 hours feeds muscle and starves fat.   Each time you eat, you stimulate your metabolism.  However, don’t use that as an excuse to snack.  Eat healthy foods. For example, increasing your intake of vegetables is one of the best ways to increase your metabolism!
  • Drink plenty of water—enough said.
  • Get good sleep—inadequate sleep can also impact your metabolism.  According to one study on webmd.com, the rate of calories your body burns in a resting state represents about 60-75% of your total daily calorie burning. Slowing your metabolism through lack of sleep is a roadblock to weight loss.
  • Consume Omega-3 fatty acids—Studies show fish oil increases levels of fat burning enzymes and decreases levels of fat storage enzymes in your body.
  • Increase physical activity in all aspects of your daily life.  Regular movement throughout the day nudges a sluggish metabolism.  Have walking one-on-one meetings, take the stairs, go for a daily 5 minute walk, stretch while watching television or at your desk.  All of these things make a difference.

-Contributed by Trainer Gina

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