I’m gonna give you the cliffnotes version of Metabolism 101. So there is a ton of info out there and it can be kinda tricky deciphering the lingo in addition to knowing who and what to believe. Each time you eat or drink something, enzymes in the body’s cells break down the food and convert it into energy. This energy is what keeps your body doing what it needs to do… such as perform critical functions like keeping your heart beating, your mind sharp for important decisions and your muscles firing during your favorite workout. The faster your metabolism performs, the more calories you burn. The more calories you burn, the easier it is to shed or maintain weight.
Enter RMR (resting metabolic rate). This is the amount of energy (or calories) your body needs to function at rest. And by rest I mean literally doing nothing…..yep think lazy Sundays in bed! Our own unique RMR accounts for about 60 – 75% of our daily energy expenditures, unless you’re a CrossFit games athlete, NFL player, or even a marathon runner (aka a super active person).
SO…. that’s your metabolism in a nutshell, ready for the pop quiz? Wink wink. I’m sure you have a million more questions like: Can I change my RMR? or better still, “How can I speed up my metabolism without being an ultra marathoner???”
Here are some more facts that will help you feel the burn:
- More Muscle = Faster Metabolism: Go ahead and lift those weights. Building more muscle will rev up your metabolism, which is what we want especially at first. Not only will your RMR be higher if you have more muscle, your overall daily calorie expenditure will increase.
- How much and when you eat has an effect on Metabolism: Do you skip breakfast and lunch only to eat a big meal or binge at dinner? You may be sabotaging your metabolism. The body is incredibly intelligent and if you habitually engage is this practice your body will learn to run in a more efficient manner (survive on fewer calories). In addition, when you deprive the body of the needed calories it will turn to its stores to function. That may sound great at first ….yay, burn that fat baby!! BUT, it’s much easier for your body to convert muscle to energy than fat. You got it, that means your body is cannibalizing itself and you are losing muscle (See # 1), and that’s not helping the crusade to rev the engine…and so a vicious cycle ensues. Less muscle, slower metabolism, more fat, slower metabolism. A brutal catch 22. Get it? C
- Simple Carbs are your Metabolism’s enemy: I think it’s safe to say we all know it’s important to limit our indulgence in things like cake, cookies, soda and ice cream not just for weight loss, but really for overall health and well being too!! When referring to simple carbs I’m not just talking about the sweet stuff, but also about pasta, rice, white bread and even your whole wheat bread (read the label – it’s likely white bread masquerading as whole wheat, but that’s another conversation). I’m certainly not saying you can never eat spaghetti and meatballs or rice, there’s just a time, a place and a portion awareness to keep in mind in order to support your goals in addition to your healthy body. It also helps to understand why you may want to limit those simple carbs and perhaps replace them with quality carbs like veggie, fruits, beans, and legumes. Simple carbs slow weight loss due to the body’s response to them. When you eat a simple carb insulin levels spike, which in turn, encourages the body to store the sugars for later in the form of…yep, you guessed it, fat.
- Vitamin D Plays a Critical Role In Metabolism Vitamin D is mostly famous for the role it plays in bone health but research shows it’s pretty important to weight loss and metabolism, too according to a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition in 2013. This does not mean you should ditch your sunscreen, safe sun practices are still required. A great way to increase your Vit D is via whole foods. Some great naturally occurring (not fortified) dietary food sources of Vit D are egg yolks (41 IU per egg), shiitake mushrooms (40 IU in 1 cup), wild caught fatty fish salmon or mackerel (425 IU in 3 oz salmon, 547 IU in 3 oz mackerel) or beef/calf liver (42 IU in 3 oz).
In summary, there are lots of ways to help boost your metabolism, and I only touched on a few. Building muscle and exercising, staying hydrated and eating a balanced healthy diet are all key components. As always, I’m here to support you on your health journey.
Love and Lunges