When you are trying to shed weight, you hear so much about ‘Metabolism’. Your gym instructor will advice exercises to boost metabolism and your dietician will recommend an eating plan that boosts metabolism too. But there are many myths floating around when it comes to metabolism as well. Don’t you agree that it’s time to separate the facts from the myths?
Most of us are struggling to lose weight, and those who aren’t are struggling to maintain their weight. And the things that count here every time are Exercise, Fats, Carbohydrates and Calories. But a very important piece of the weight loss puzzle is Metabolism, and not all of us understand it fully.
What decides our metabolic rate? Can we influence it? Why do some people who eat anything and everything never seem to gain an ounce? Is it because they have a faster metabolism as compared to others like us who are cursed with a sluggish metabolism and can’t seem to shed a single kilo? Let us understand our Metabolism a little better …..
1. Metabolism cannot be changed, but can be influenced –
Your metabolism decides how your body handles the food you eat. Metabolism has 2 processes – anabolism and catabolism. While anabolism takes care of creating and storing energy derived from food, catabolism deals with expending it. And what controls these processes is our endocrine system. While we cannot change our metabolism (obviously because we cannot regulate hormones!) we can influence it by gaining energy from the right foods. And also, by increasing activity levels that expends the stored energy levels.
So, to influence your metabolism you need to take care of 3 factors –
- What you eat
- How much you eat and
- How much you exercise
Like all things related to weight loss, this also comes down to diet and exercise, eh?
2. You should know your BMR –
The Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR calculates how fast or slow your metabolism is because it measures the calories your body burns when you are not engaged in an activity. Remember, even breathing and talking expends calories, and the BMR will give you an idea of how many calories your body needs to sustain itself, so that you have a clear idea of how many calories you should be burning as well as eating to lose weight or maintain it, or even to gain some.
3. Lifestyle choices make a huge impact–
Most of us have a friend or two who can wolf down as much food as they desire without putting on a single kilo. Isn’t that right? And we often wonder, “Her metabolism is probably very fast.” That is probably not true – this friend has by chance achieved a perfect balance between eating calories and burning calories without even realizing it. It mostly has to do with lifestyle choices like eating on time, going to bed on time and engaging in physical activities, rather than having a super fast metabolism.
When you skip meals in order to lose weight, your metabolism reduces too! So, you really are doing yourself more harm than any good. Instead, stick to 6 smaller, well spaced out meals and see how you also develop a ‘fast metabolism’.
4. Metabolism is affected by exercising –
Exercise boosts your metabolic rate and helps you burn calories. So really, instead of concentrating on how fast or slow your metabolism is, concentrate more on some cardio exercises. At least, it is under your control to chalk out a productive exercise plan. Your body only uses 10% of the calories you eat to maintain its many processes. The remaining calories have to be expended by exercising, or they simply add more weight to your frame.
Also, when you exercise, you build muscle mass. And this in turn, burns off calories. So add strength training to your exercise regimen to increase your basal metabolic rate.
5. Being hydrated plays a role here –
A study done at University Of Utah found that dieters who drink ample amount of water and are well hydrated also have a higher metabolism. So drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. To make it even better, drink cold water as your body needs to burn off calories to bring that water to room temperature before it processes it.
6. Good metabolism means a slow paced weight loss –
Noticed you suddenly dropped a few kilos too fast? No, your metabolic rate didn’t suddenly increase, you are either too stressed or are probably sick or something! People with a healthy metabolic rate will lose weight slowly, and then work towards maintaining it. According to US Department of Health and Human Services, dieters should lose about 1 to 2 pounds ( that is about a half kilo to 1 kilo) every week, if they want their weight loss to be permanent. After that, maintain a healthy lifestyle and practice portion control to keep your weight from climbing up again.
7. A good night’s rest affects your metabolic rate –
Why do movie stars swear by their 8 to 9 hour beauty sleep? No, it doesn’t only give them a fresh beautiful glow; it also keeps their metabolism working perfectly. According to a study done by University of Chicago, not getting enough sleep wrecks havoc on your endocrine system. And remember, your metabolic rate is controlled by the endocrine system? So when you collect sleep debt, you also mess with your metabolism and make it harder for your body to lose weight.
8. Your metabolism will invariably slow down with age –
Now this one doesn’t come as a shock. Obviously, as you age your metabolism slows down. A research done by University of Colorado reveals that menopausal women face a 10% decrease in their BMR. And that is why they deal with gain weight and cannot seem to lose weight as easily as they could when they were younger. Since your metabolism will slow down with age, it only makes sense that you shed all those extra kilos right away, before it becomes too late and too difficult! If you want to maintain your figure in your 50s, cut down on your caloric intake well in your 30s and 40s.
9. Thyroid greatly affects metabolism –
Remember how every time you gained a few kilos and looked chunky, your doctor recommended a thyroid test? Well, the thyroid is a hormonal gland that controls your metabolic rate. A slow working thyroid means your metabolism will be slower, and an overworking thyroid gland means your metabolism will be too fast. Neither is good for you, so seek treatment immediately if your doctor detects abnormality in the functioning of your thyroid glands.
10. A few hot beverages can boost your metabolism –
Finally, here is some good news. You can give your metabolism an additional boost by doing nothing but sipping on a few hot beverages. Coffee is one good option, as it stimulates your nervous system and boosts the metabolism. But an even better idea is Green Tea. Researchers at the Lausanne University in Switzerland found out that people who have 3 cups of green days for 3 days in continuation saw a 4.6% rise in their calorie burning ability. This means, it boosted up their metabolism!
So there you have it! We have successfully removed the myths from the facts when it comes to metabolism, so that you know the best way to take your weight loss journey forward. Hopefully, a sluggish metabolism will no longer be your excuse to not put enough effort in to achieving your goal weight!
*This article was also published in http://www.healthviva.com
- 12 Simple Ways to Super-Charge Your Metabolism for Ultimate Weight Loss! (exerciselossweight.wordpress.com)
- How Your Hormones Affect Your Weight (prairietn.wordpress.com)