Metabolism is the term used to describe the chemical processes that happen in the body to sustain and maintain life. We need fuel in the form of food which is broken down (catabolism) to smaller units and is then used to keep our organs running, repair cells, digest food, help us carry out our daily activities and so on.
We have a minimum energy requirement needed to carry out basic body functions – this is called our Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR. This is the energy required to keep us alive, basically for our body to tick over without us doing anything else. Think of yourself lying in bed all day doing nothing, your BMR will carry out your essential body functions, cell repair, breathing etc..
How does my metabolism affect my weight?
Well if you don’t burn through all the calories you eat then your body will store them as fat.
It is basic math; if calories in = calories out then your weight will stay the same. If calories in > calories out then you will gain weight and vice versa.
So how can you increase your metabolism to help you lose weight or better still so you can eat more without putting on weight!
Here are a few tips:
Increase your muscle mass by resistance training, muscle has a daily metabolic rate of about three times that of fat. So the more muscle you have on your body the higher your metabolism is going to be.
Increase your energy expenditure; start doing some interval or HIIT training, this form of training will make you consume more oxygen making the energy systems in your cells work harder to burn energy = a bigger calorie burn.
Don’t restrict your diet; taking in too few calories will lower your metabolism.
Eat breakfast; eating shortly after you get up has shown to “wake-up” your metabolism, it literally gets the engines going.
Keep your blood sugar levels steady and prevent insulin spikes by eating regularly. You will keep your metabolism revved up by eating healthy foods regularly and studies have shown you will eat fewer calories overall by grazing throughout the day, think about eating 6 meals of 300 calories each.
Eat more protein; your body digests protein differently to carbohydrates and the body uses 10% more calories to digest protein compared to carbohydrates. Diets high in protein also help to maintain lean body mass (muscle), see note 1!
Drink tea and coffee (but in moderation!), caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and can boost your metabolism by 5-8%.
Try to get 8 hours of sleep a night. Researchers at Stanford University found that people who slept for less than 7.5 hours per night experienced an increase in their BMI!
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