Metabo-What?

We all want a higher metabolism and every fitness guru throws the word around, yet very few actually define it. If I were to ask you what metabolism means, could you tell me? Here’s a typical response: “It’s that thing that skinny people have and I don’t. Skinny people have a high metabolism and can eat whatever they want, yet I even look at a cookie and I gain two pounds.”

What if you too could rev up your metabolism and be one of those people who could eat whatever you wanted (within reason, of course)? The good news is that you can, it just takes some changes to make it possible.

Metabolism simply means the speed with which your body burns through food. If you want to increase your metabolism, then you simply need to tell your body to burn through food faster, which means putting unprocessed foods into your body frequently. If you do this your body will, in turn, increase the speed with which it burns through that food.

For example, say you were only given one banana to survive off of each day. Would your body want to burn through that banana quickly? Or would it take its time so that you have energy for later? Now, what if you were to eat a meal every three hours? Your body would then burn through that food rather quickly since you’re giving yourself an ongoing supply of energy. Quite contrary to popular diet wisdom isn’t it?

That’s where diets fail you! Diets teach you to avoid food, which will create rapid weight loss in a short period of time. However, more weight ends up coming back. What has happened is you’ve slowed down your metabolism as a result of your diet.

From now on anytime you see the word “diet”, be warned! Diets wreak havoc on metabolism. Sure you might be saying, “But I’ve lost 20 lbs before on Atkins, I’ve lost 10 lbs on Weight Watchers, and I’ve lost 15 lbs on Slim-Fast.” Well, if any of those had actually worked, you wouldn’t have had to try all three diets, nor would you be reading this right now! The good news is, none of those diets work for anyone in the long-term. Advertisements with thin models deceive you into thinking that these diets work, so you buy the product. Score one for the company, they’ve just made a sale- but do they care about what actually happens to you? That psychological game continues when the diet doesn’t work, and you feel the blame. But you’re NOT to blame.

There are three components to metabolism:

  • Muscle (the amount you have)
  • Thyroid hormones
  • Frequency and type of meals you ingest

Dieting also has a negative impact on your thyroid hormones. By not eating enough food to sustain proper functioning, the thyroid will alter its production of T3 and T4 hormones which will slow down metabolism.

Fat tissue is burned in muscle. The more muscle you have on your body the more calories you burn. Ever wonder why men can eat more than women? This is one of the reasons. You have to perform resistance training to stimulate muscle in order to increase your metabolism. If you’re not on a resistance-training program yet, you should be. The benefits outside of weight loss are numerous, but any weight loss program that neglects resistance training is flawed from the beginning.

Finally, how often you eat throughout the day as well as the quality of those calories will have a direct impact on metabolism. Eating five to six meals a day rather than the typical three meals a day is superior when it comes to fat loss. Studies have shown that when two groups of people ate the same number of calories per day, the group that ate more often not only burned more body fat, but also decreased their blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Sounds like a win-win situation to me. The tough part is actually being able to eat that often throughout the day. Later articles will share tips and tricks on how to master this tough challenge.

In the meantime, be sure you eat enough food frequently, and start a resistance-training program immediately. You too will start losing body fat and enjoy being one of those eat-what-I-want people.

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