Let’s be honest, almost all of us want a faster metabolism. Having a faster metabolism will help us burn more calories during the day, and will ultimately make our lives easier when it comes to losing weight. With that being said, most people assume that if they have a slow metabolism that it’s going to stay that way, yet that doesn’t have to be the case. There are some things that we can do that will help speed up our metabolism and help us reach our weight loss goals sooner. I’m going to give you some tips on how we can speed up our metabolism, but before that, I’m going to go over ways our body uses energy so we can get a better understanding of that first.
Our body uses three different pathways to burn energy throughout the day. These three ways are through our basal metabolic rate (BMR), the thermic effect of food (TEF), and physical activity. Our basal metabolic rate is what most of us think about when we hear the word metabolism. This is the amount of energy that our body expends in a day while at rest, or in other words the energy it needs to properly function within a day. Our BMR can account for upwards of 60-80% of our total energy expenditure for the day. The thermic effect of food is simply the energy that is used to break down the foods we eat. So the more complex or nutrient-dense a food is, the more energy (aka calories) it will take to digest that food. As nice as this sounds for a way to burn some extra calories, this only accounts for about 10% of our total calories burned each day. The third and final way is through physical activity, which is what we all reap the benefits from here at the gym. We can find this totaling anywhere from 10-30% of our energy expended each day. So now that we have a little bit better understanding of that, we can talk about some ways in which we can increase each of these.
Put on Muscle
This one is pretty straightforward and is the goal of basically all of us here at the gym. While putting on muscle does help make us stronger and more confident, it can also benefit us when it comes to our metabolism. When we put on more muscle we are also helping to boost our metabolism. This is because muscles take more work for the body to maintain while we are at rest. So now by putting on more muscle, not only are we getting stronger and building a healthier body, but we are also helping our bodies to now burn more calories while we are at rest. Also keep in mind, that this is when our bodies burn most of their calories.
This is one of the biggest problems I tend to see with most people who are wanting to lose weight. They limit their food intake so much that they are actually now under-eating, which can be just as bad for them as over-eating. The reason that this can become a problem is that it can cause our bodies to now hold on tight to everything we have, instead of releasing it to be burned off. Under-eating will also cause us to lose muscle mass. So now are we not only losing some of that muscle we put all of that hard work into to put on, but in doing so we are also slowing our metabolism back down. This is our body's response to us being at such a great deficit in calories, and is basically putting itself into “survival mode”. In order to combat this, make sure that you are consuming enough calories in a day and only putting yourself at a minor deficit. Having that minor deficit might take you a little longer to get to the weight that you want, but it will keep leading you in the right direction the whole time and will allow you to continue to see progress the whole time.
Eat Enough Protein
Making sure we get enough protein will go hand in hand with making sure that we consume enough calories. By getting more protein into our diet, it will allow us to help support that muscle growth that we are looking for, in order to help increase our metabolism. It has also been shown that protein is more difficult for the body to break down and digest than any of the other nutrients. This means that when we eat meals that have higher amounts of protein it will increase the energy expenditure of the thermal effect of food. Protein has also been shown to help keep us feeling fuller for longer, and therefore will help us eat less throughout the day. Most of us tend to not get enough protein in our diets, and are therefore cutting ourselves short in the results that we could be getting. So try to start keeping track of your protein intake, and see how much you consume in a day. We should aim for getting anywhere between .8-1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. If you are very active try and reach that number of 1 gram per kilogram of body weight, whereas if we aren’t as active we should shoot more for the .8 grams per kilogram of body weight.
Get Sleep and Manage Stressors
Getting enough sleep and being able to manage our stressors, can not only have an impact on our overall health, but it can also have an impact on our metabolism as well. One way that this is true, is if we don’t get enough sleep it will actually increase our body’s sense of hunger by reducing the amount of leptin. Leptin is the hormone that is released and used to suppress our appetite. So we can find that by not getting enough sleep, we will find ourselves having an increase in appetite. In addition to that, if we don’t get enough sleep for long periods of time we can actually cause our body to increase cortisol levels, which is what stores fat. So if we find that we aren’t getting the results that we are wanting, maybe we need to take a look at our sleep schedule. Similarly, not being able to manage our stressors can have an effect on our bodies as well. When I say this I’m not referring to stress eating either. What I mean is that stressors can actually cause our bodies to metabolize food more slowly. So when we are stressed, not only are we more susceptible to making poor food choices, but we are also at risk of then metabolizing those foods more slowly than normal.
So now we know that our slow metabolism isn’t necessarily a lost cause and we can actually do things that can help us increase our metabolism. In addition to that, we also found out that our body expends energy using three different pathways. We can try and attack all three of those pathways with what we do, instead of just focusing on one. This will help lead us to better results, faster. If we are able to integrate all four of these tips into our daily routines, we will be able to successfully hit all three of those pathways. All it starts with is one small step at a time, which will lead us on to bigger steps over time.
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