Everyone seems to understand the basics of losing weight: Weight Loss 101 equals calories in versus calories out. However, we all have met those people that seem to eat whatever they want from chill cheese fries to ice cream sundaes that don’t gain a pound. They claim, “I have a fast metabolism!” -- which may be true in your twenties and possibly your thirties but the quality and quantity of fuel you intake will build your body’s infrastructure ( like it or not) to reflect these choices at some point over the years. Rarely is the case that men and women in their mid-life claim such daily intakes of lower nutrient with high calorie foods without weight gain.
So what exactly is metabolism?
Metabolism - The definition of metabolism is “the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life.”
Translation: the amount of calories you need to breathe, eat, sleep and function on a daily basis. If you are trying to figure out your “metabolism” there are a number of tests that can be done to get a fairly accurate number. However, if you are looking for a general number to calculate your daily intake versus calorie burn, take your current body weight and multiply times ten. (ie. 135 pounds needs 1,350 calories a day to maintain that body weight) Now this system doesn’t take into consideration the apple, pear or string bean shapes a body takes on or rather the lean muscle mass versus fat tissue. However, it does give you a general starting point.
How can I boost my metabolism?
There are many things you can do to boost your metabolism. Here are just a few:
1. Eat breakfast!
Think of your body as a car... put in little gas and it rides on fumes inefficiently and with a few knocks. Fueling your body first thing in the morning isn’t just for school age children. It actually slows our metabolism for the day and increase s our hunger and appetite later in the afternoon as well. That’s a tripple whammy! Slower calorie burn, slower reaction times in thinking and movement as well as high calorie craving later in the day are the result.
Tip: Try simple breakfast ideas like quick oatmeal ie: Real Medley or Low calorie, cholesterol free scramblers like Egg Beaters 100% Egg Whites.
2. Muscle Up.
You don’t have to be a body builder to have a lean muscle to fat tissue ratio. Leaner bodies have higher metabolic rates. It’s simple to understand. Muscles burn calories - fat doesn’t. I visualize how fat jiggles and how muscle contracts to think of the calorie burn concept. Muscle also takes up less space per pound than fat so your body will feel more solid and dense. Muscle burns calories while you sleep while fat doesn’t. Think of it... you could sleep and lose weight as your lean muscle mass increases!
Tip: Body weight training programs like CrossFit or P90X can be a fun option to traditional free weight training.
3. Move it.
We all know that exercise burns calories but it also increases our metabolic rate even after we stop moving. When you exercise vigorously, you deplete the fast energy stores. When your body needs more fuel to move, it first uses the fast energy stores of “sugar/glycogen” in your muscles. Once these fuel centers start to deplete, the body has to break down fat for energy. The body has to work harder to break down fat. But the best part is when you stop moving, the body has to work hard to replace that muscle fuel by burning up more fat and restore the muscles with more sugar/glycogen to be ready for the next workout. That’s the “after burn” that is revving up the metabolism.
Tip: the harder you work the more after burn you'll have.
Of course, the metabolic rate is determined by your genetic coding, what you eat, drugs you may take and other factors, but these three tips are a sure fire way to “fire” up your metabolism. When was the last time you ate breakfast? When was your last workout?
Andrea Metcalf is a healthy lifestyle spokesperson, best selling author and Chicago based fitness expert. She has trained pro-athletes, news anchors and helped hundreds of people lose thousands of pounds.