In Fitness

How do you increase your metabolism?

Metabolism…it seems to be the blame for our weight loss or gain. Clients often talk to me about their slow metabolism. They want all the secrets to increase it so they can be lean without dieting or hours at the gym. Unfortunately, there are no secret substances that the health professionals are hiding from you. Although you may not want to hear this, the way to increase metabolism is through a healthy diet and exercise.

First off, what is metabolism? It’s all the biochemical processes your body performs to turn your food into fuel. That fuel is then used to keep you breathing, moving, growing cells, circulating blood, etc. So when we say someone has a fast metabolism, what we’re really saying is that they burn through their fuel faster or their body uses more fuel to function, thus they need to eat more. As we age, we lose muscle and our metabolism slows down, so we don’t need as many calories to function. The extra calories are stored for later in the form of fat. Besides age, other things that affect metabolism are gender, lean body mass, diet, and activity.

Your calories.
 You’ve probably heard that dieting puts you into starvation mode and destroys your metabolism. While this may be a bit of an exaggeration, when you don’t eat enough, your body adapts. In other words, it slows down your metabolism or makes you burn less, so your body can maintain life-sustaining functions on lower calories. So you need to eat enough calories to avoid that. Typically, this looks like about 1200 calories for women and 1800 calories for men, but it can vary for everyone. Getting an RMR (resting metabolic rate test) can tell you your “real” numbers. MWM Fitness offers this type of test.  I like to tell people that you need to eat enough to have energy to push yourself hard at your workouts. If you are always tired then it’s time to look at your calorie intake.

Lean muscle mass.
Although you can’t change your age or gender, you can change your muscle mass which can increase metabolism. Muscles require more energy to maintain, so the more you have, the more you burn, and ladies you don’t have to look like a bodybuilder to increase your muscle mass. In order to build muscle, you need to eat adequate calories and protein. For some people, adding a protein shake into their daily meals can help ensure you get enough protein. We recommend ID Life protein shakes that can be purchased at MWM fitness or at www.mwmfitness.idlife.com. 

Hit the gym.
Exercise is also important—not only for building muscle, but also for the afterburn. When we do high-intensity exercise, our metabolism is boosted for a short time (an average of 14 hours), and can cause additional calorie burn.  When the afterburn is combined with the workout burn and your resting metabolic burn, they all add up to give you a better metabolic burn. Making sure you add in resistance training with cardio can help boost that metabolism. Bootcamp, Strength Tabata, and MWM Mix classes are perfect for increasing that burn! Rumor has it that a new Strength Acceleration class is coming to MWM, so stay tuned!

What about stimulants?
The short answer is that some have a small effect, but not enough to start taking them. For example, caffeine appears to stimulate the metabolic rate. However, studies have shown that it’s for a short period of time, like 3 hours, and it only results in an average of 52 extra calories burned per day Because caffeine also can increase blood pressure.  I wouldn’t start consuming caffeine on a regular basis for metabolic reasons, especially since caffeine is often accompanied with extra sugar in sodas, lattes, and energy drinks. Again, the best way to increase your metabolism  is to exercise at a high intensity to build muscle, and to eat a balanced diet with adequate protein throughout the day.

So skip the “magic pills” and modify your metabolism and life long-term with a healthy diet and exercise!

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