What is Metabolism?
Do “calories” really count?
Well, yes they do do an extent, 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 it’s all about your metabolism.
In a nutshell metabolism is 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”.
So what effects your metabolic rate, and how can you use that to your advantage. Of course it’s not just about how much you eat but also your hormones, body composition, and of course what you eat counts!
Click ‘read more’ to read the full post about metabolism, what effects your metabolic rate and try my new recipe for a lean (metabolism-boosting) protein!
What is Metabolism?
This word “metabolism” is mentioned a lot these days.
You know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight. But what exactly does this all mean?
“metabolism” is the word used to describe how your body takes in nutrients and oxygen and uses them to fuel everything you do.
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, etc.).
- Allow storage of excess energy for later.
So when you put all of 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.
The calories you eat can go to one of three places:
- Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
- Heat (i.e. from all 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 to store for later.
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 programme and why I include it in my training programmes with many of my clients. You want muscles to be burning those calories for you!
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”.
The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!
Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolise your food. This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).
You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolises 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.
Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow. By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.
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.
Here’s a lean protein recipe for you to try…..
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts
2 lemons, sliced
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
pinch salt & pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 180 degrees c. Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.
Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper. Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with a lid or foil.
Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If you want the chicken to be a bit more “roasty” then remove the lid/foil and cook for another few minutes.
Serve & enjoy!
TOP TIP: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!
Helping you to be the best you can be!