Learn How To Supercharge Your Metabolism
Metabolism is an interesting subject. It’s so much more than just how fast you digest your food. It’s a measurement that is key to understanding how your body functions, and how to improve it.
The fact is your body is predisposed to have a set metabolism because of different body types and differing nutrition needs according to your genetics. The good news - you can naturally boost your metabolism through how you eat and how you train.
Your metabolism can be conditioned.
In this article, we’re going to expand on the subject of your metabolism, how it works, how you measure it, and best of all, how you can improve your metabolism. You can use this information to maximise your body’s potential in the gym.
What Is Your Metabolism?
Your metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories. A higher metabolism means that you burn more calories during the day. A slower metabolism burns less calories. Your metabolism indicates how efficiently you burn energy.
If you understand your body type (endomorph, ectomorph, mesomorph), then you have a good idea of what your natural rate of metabolism is. Endomorphs have a larger body type and typically have slower metabolisms. Ectomorphs have a higher metabolism, keeping them from putting on weight. Mesomorphs have a balanced metabolism that allows them to burn energy efficiently.
How to Measure Your Metabolism
But how do you accurately measure your metabolism? It isn’t enough to simply say ‘fast’ and ‘slow’.
Even if you don’t move a muscle for the next 24 hours, you body will burn calories. Everything that your body does, beating your heart, pumping your blood, creating and dividing cells, synthesising protein, firing neurons in the brain, and breathing all require energy.
The minimum number of calories you need to keep your body functioning on a basic level is called your Basal Metabolic Rate.
Eat more calories than you need, or above your BMR and your body will store it for later. Eat less than you require, and your body will use stored energy in the body.
It’s a fairly complex formula that takes into account how much normal activity you do, your height, weight and your age. You can use a BMR calculator to determine your rate.
Causes of Low Metabolism
Besides your body type, what else determines your metabolism? Are there factors out of your control that are sabotaging your efforts to boost your metabolism? Are there factors in your control?
Typically, your body’s metabolism slows down with age. There’s no pill to stop that from happening. Once you reach the age of 25, your metabolism starts to decline by 2-4% each year. This isn’t set in stone and more on that in a minute.
Outside of your control:
- High insulin levels
- Thyroid issues
- Low testosterone
In your control:
- Not enough sleep
- Too much stress (excessive cortisol in the body)
- Eating too much fat
- Not eating enough calories
- Lack of cardio exercise
These factors tell an interesting story. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, you could be tempted to drastically reduce your calorie intake. But this can have the opposite effect you intended.
A lack of calories tells your body to slow down your metabolism. It thinks you aren’t getting enough and wants to store the few calories you’re taking in. The same goes for a lack of exercise. If your body doesn’t need to expend energy, it will store it in your body.
Boosting Your Metabolism
The answer to how to increase your metabolism is a combination of how you eat and how you train.
Yes, that’s right. It always comes down to proper exercise and diet. Let’s break that down even further so you can effectively boost your metabolism.
Your body’s metabolism is directly impacted by what you eat and how you eat. As we mentioned, not eating enough calories will prompt your body to lower your metabolic rate. Also, eating too many fatty foods will also contribute to a low metabolism.
One of the best ways to boost your metabolism to eat a balanced diet. That means a complete nutritional balance of fats, proteins, and carbs. Yes, carbs.
There are plenty of diets out there that advise to stay away from carbohydrates. But you need carbs to fuel your body. If you restrict carbs, your body will decrease the production of certain hormones. That, in turn, will lower your metabolic rate over time.
Eat a ratio of 25-40% carbs in your diet, trying to eat them around your training times to maximise your body’s ability to metabolise them into energy.
Protein is key to building up your metabolism. Gram for gram, your body burns through more energy metabolising protein than it does for fat or carbohydrates. By maintaining a healthy ratio of 35-50% protein in your diet, you are forcing your body to use more energy to simply metabolise the protein you keep taking in. Protein also has a side benefit of making you feel fuller for longer.
Eating healthy fats like fatty fish, avocados, and nuts and seeds are also essential to a balanced diet. Try to keep a 20-30% fat ratio to boost your metabolism. Unsaturated fats raise your good cholesterol and provide essential amino acids for healthy protein synthesis.
There are also individuals foods that have an effect on your metabolism. Including these foods as a part of your diet will have a thermogenic effect that causes your body to burn more calories.
- Green Tea
- Chili Peppers
By and large, the biggest consumer of energy in your body are your muscles. Whether it’s the heart and lung muscles keeping you alive or the skeletal muscles that you can train, these will be the key to boosting your metabolism.
We know that a kilogram of muscle burns around 70 calories - more than a kilogram of other body tissue. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be. We stated before that metabolism decreases with age, but studies show that has everything to do with the decrease in muscle mass as your body ages..That means you can delay that decreased metabolism by decades with regular exercise and building muscle mass.
One method of boosting metabolism is then to build more muscle. Regular resistance training and compound muscle movements will add muscle mass.
Look to high-impact routines that use whole-body movements to add muscle mass all over the body. Weight lifting movements like barbell squats, deadlifts, and bench presses involve more than one muscle and increase your muscle mass. You can use a combination of low-rep/heavy-weight training to build muscle mass along with a couple weeks of high-rep/low-weight training to increase endurance.
High-impact cardio will also help your metabolism. When you do cardio exercise, your body’s metabolic rate increases. But for cardio exercises like running, biking, and swimming, these elevated rates are temporary and soon fall back to normal.
Try adding some intensity to your cardio like High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to prolong the effect. HIIT increases the post-exercise oxygen consumption of your body, in effect raising your metabolism for several hours after the workout is completed.
Don’t forget to rest. Recovery is crucial to boosting your metabolism. This isn’t a short-term fix, but a long-term goal. During your recovery, your body is busy repairing microtraumas, restoring energy stores, and synthesising protein to build muscle. These require energy and they will boost your metabolism when you allow it to happen.
Your metabolism is adaptable.
You may have been predisposed to have a slower metabolism but you can take steps to improve your body’s ability to burn through calories. You can boost your metabolism through proper diet, good hydration, and a healthy exercise routine that builds muscle mass.
Eat enough of the right calories, train the correct way, and your body will transform into a calorie-burning machine. Condition your body to require more calories, to effectively use the calories you give it, and you’ve trained your metabolism to be more effective.
You can take control of your body’s energy consumption. Use the power wisely.