This very important word is thrown around a lot these days and most of the time it’s getting a pretty bad rap. Let’s give you some insight into your metabolism and some things you can do to help it.
First of all, you might be one of those people who think, if your metabolism slows down you might gain weight and if you can increase it some how, it will help you burn fat. Is this true and if it is how does this happen?
Technically, “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the reactions in your body. It’s how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.
METABOLISM IN A SNAP SHOT:
- Active daily living
- Digesting food
- Basal metabolic rate
So, 1 & 2 sound pretty straightforward, right?
If you are more active, your metabolism is more active and burns more calories and when you eat food your body needs energy to digest it. Easy!
So what is basal metabolic rate (BMR) and why is it important to me?
Let’s quickly add some stats:
- Digesting food accounts for 15% of the calories burnt daily, done!
- Your active daily living accounts for 15% of the daily calories…. I’m kidding right? No! Only 15%
Surprisingly, active daily living only accounts for approximately 15% of the calories we burn in a day. This is obviously affected by how active or how sedentary we are. Since we cannot exercise for hours and hours a day, everyday, exercise only accounts for a relatively small amount of the total calories burned in a day.
So where’s the rest coming from? The rest comes from your BMR! Our BMR is the rate at which you burn calories at rest. These calories provide energy for the entire body. BMR accounts for approx 70% of the total calories burned in a day. So any small increase or decrease of our BMR will have huge affects on our metabolism.
Metabolic rate is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those good old calories!).
As you can imagine the more calories you burn at work, the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later…. for fat!
There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate. One is the “basal metabolic rate” (BMR) mentioned above, which is how much energy your body uses when you’re not being physically active.
The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE), which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.
WHAT AFFECTS YOUR METABOLIC RATE?
In a nutshell: a lot!
One of the things you might think of is your thyroid, but most men don’t, so we won’t ponder too long here. Essentially, this is a gland at the front of your throat that 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 (now were talking dads)! Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial!
Active muscles that move and do work need more energy, period!
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 highly recommended for all dads as a part of a weight loss program. This is because you will not only burn more calories when you are active, but you will continue to burn those calories at rest, even when you’re asleep!
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 as your muscles are burning fuel to move so they’re doing “work.” But with sustained aerobic work, with the absence of weight training, you’ll find your metabolism slows down if not kept to a regular aerobic exercise program.
DOES FOOD HAVE AN IMPACT?
Yes, the type of food you eat will also affect your metabolic rate!
Your body burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food. This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF). You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently. This accounts for around 15% of your daily calorie expenditure. Depending on the macro you consume most can sway this figure slightly.
Fats will increase it by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, but proteins increases it by a whopping 15-30%, I’m guessing we all know which macronutrient we are now leaning towards!
By trading some of your fats or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate. Another awesome 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, keep it off and build the shape and size you desire.
This, however, is just a tiny part; the mere tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.
But one thing’s for sure, if you want to increase your metabolism, start lifting those weights and start smashing down the protein!