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What is my metabolism and why would I ever want to increase it?
Here on Tone-and-Tighten.com I get asked rather frequently about metabolic rate. While most of these questions are inquiring as to how to increase metabolism, I got an email the other day that included a wonderful and simple question – “everyone talks about their metabolism… What exactly is that?” What a great question! I can’t believe I haven’t addressed it yet! So today is all about your metabolic rate here on T&T: what is your metabolism, why you should care about it, and 10 ways that you can actually increase yours!
Your metabolic rate, or metabolism, is a measure of the minimum energy required to keep your body alive. Think of it like this – if you were to wake up in the morning, lay in bed and not move all day, and then go to sleep at night, your body would still burn calories simply keeping you alive. You would still breathe, your heart would still beat, and other bodily functions would still be performed. The calories you burn sitting around doing absolutely nothing is referred to as your metabolism.
Everyone’s metabolism is a little bit different. Factors such as gender, age, height, genetics, and weight all play a role in determining your metabolic rate. Your body composition including percentage of lean muscle versus percentage of fat also factor heavily into the equation. Here are some general rules regarding each one of these factors:
- Gender: sorry ladies, males typically have higher metabolism than females.
- Age: our metabolism slows down as we get older, usually starting in our 50s.
- Height: The taller you are the quicker your metabolism; usually this is due to taller people having more mass (more “stuff” to keep alive).
- Genetics: Some people are just born with a more natural ability to shred calories at rest. Thanks or no thanks, mom and dad.
- Weight: This one’s actually a little surprising – the heavier you are the higher your metabolism. This is for the same reason as the “height” factor – there’s just more “stuff” to feed and keep alive. Before you break open the Oreos, though, and tell everyone Jared said to put on some pounds to increase your metabolism, let’s talk body composition…
- Body composition: The more muscle cells you have the higher your metabolism. Muscle requires more energy (calories) to keep it active and moving; fat actually serves as a storage container for calories not used up and therefore requires very few calories to keep it alive. So for example, a 140 pound woman with 15% body fat is going to have a higher metabolism than a 140 pound woman with 25% body fat.
So why do we care about “boosting our metabolism” or increasing our metabolic rate? Simply put – the higher your metabolism the more calories you burn doing nothing. Burning more calories at rest typically results in not only more weight loss, but also more difficulty gaining weight! For the majority of us, boosting our metabolism is a good thing!
So how do we do it? What are some of the best ways to increase your metabolism and burn through more calories while at rest? Here are 10 tips to increase your metabolism:
- Strength train!!! Make some muscle! Your body has to work harder to keep muscle alive and thriving than it does to store up fat. Incorporating 30-40 minutes of strength training twice a week has been proven to increase resting metabolism up to 100 calories/day! That means you actually burn 100 more calories per day just for getting stronger and looking leaner. Need help with strength training? Here are over 50 at-home T&T workouts you can look into!
- Ramp up with intervals: Incorporating 30-second high-intensity intervals will help you consume more oxygen and make your cells work harder to burn energy. This basically trains your cells to become more efficient and burn more throughout the day. Need some interval ideas? Here are 5 great interval workouts you can do at home!
- Omega 3’s are where it’s at: These fatty acids can help to balance blood sugar and reduce inflammation,, thereby helping to regulate metabolism Fish (salmon and tuna), walnuts, flaxseed oil, and eggs are all excellent natural sources of omega 3’s; your supplement store will also have them in capsule form (like these from Bodybuilding.com).
- Don’t cut too many calories! How counter-intuitive is this one?! “You mean I need to eat to lose weight?” YES! Cutting too many calories your metabolism actually slows down so it doesn’t burn so many so fast. You need to eat at least your resting metabolic rate, which you can find with this metabolic rate calculator. Make sure you’re eating at least this many calories throughout the day to increase your metabolism and promote healthy weight loss.
- Enjoy a higher after-workout calorie burn: Your body can take hours to recover from a moderate-intense workout. During this recovery time, your body is actually continuing to burn more calories than it normally would at rest – even hours after you’ve finished. So go workout! Here are some awesome 15-minute-or-less workouts to get you started.
- The most important meal of the day! Eating a good, nutrient-rich breakfast actually kick-starts your metabolism for the day. It gets your “engine” up and going and ready to burn. No ideas what to eat? Check out these 10 healthy and easy breakfast ideas to get you going!
- Trans fat – just say NO! Trans fat is the bad fat. Besides raising bad cholesterol, lowering good cholesterol, and increasing risk for future heart problems, trans fat can also slow down your body’s ability to burn fat. Avoid anything with “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” including baked goods, potato chips, fried foods, creamers and margarine.
- Get on board with protein: Your body digests protein more slowly than fat or carbs. This actually causes you to feel fuller longer! Because it takes longer to burn protein than carbs your body actually expends more energy absorbing nutrients from a high-protein diet. Increased metabolism just for eating right? You bet!
- Hydrate! Your body needs water to process calories. If you are even slightly dehydrated your metabolism may slow down. You should be drinking up to eight 8-ounce glasses of water (NOT any sweetened beverage) everyday.
- Snack the right way: Eating more often is actually a great way to boost your metabolism! Once again – don’t get crazy with this one! Eating large meals with hours in between causes you metabolism to slow way down between meals. Having a small meal/snack every 3-4 hours keeps your metabolism cranking so you actually burn more calories throughout the day. This also helps you to eat less at meal time!
So there you have them! 10 great ways that you can actually increase your metabolism and burn more fat while resting! Try to incorporate 2 or 3 or 10 of these into your life and watch the results take off!
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