Metabolism is fast becoming a “buzz” word in the land of fitness and nutrition. Sure, we have all known for centuries that a healthy metabolism has something to do with a healthy weight. We all have that friend who can eat whatever the hell they want and never gain an ounce, and talk about him/her having a “fast metabolism”… On top of general conversation, we have also read endless myths such as:
• “Eating breakfast kick starts your metabolism”…
• “If you don’t eat every 2 hours your metabolism will shut down”…
• “Eating a diet of green tea extract and chili peppers will boost your metabolism”
…wow, that sounds YUMMY!
While all of the above statements may warrant some attention, and may even result in short term changes in metabolic processes, none are practices that lead to long term metabolic repair OR a significant impact on redefining your body composition. So, what the heck is this thing called “metabolism” and how do you repair what so many of us have drastically damaged from years of under eating, overeating, and/or unhealthy training regimens.
In laymen’s terms, metabolism is the rate at which the body burns calories. This is only part of the story. Metabolism is a two part process by which the body breaks down food and converts that food to energy. The two parts…the breaking down and the rebuilding—are called anabolism, a constructive process and catabolism, a destructive process. During anabolism, small molecules are changed into larger, more complex molecules of carbs, proteins, and fats—the triple threat of nutrition. Anabolism requires the input of energy, in the form of food calories, and is the process by which the body stores energy. In catabolism, cells break down those large molecules to release energy and dispose of waste. This energy release provides fuel for anabolism. In this way, anabolism and catabolism exist in balance with each other and are the foundation of metabolism.
Our metabolic efficiency is directly correlated to the amount of lean muscle tissue on our bodies…fat cells are inactive and provide no metabolic benefit. Thus, the higher the percentage of body fat, the less efficient one’s body is at breaking down food at resting state (basal metabolic rate, BMR). Take the following two women as examples:
Body Fat Percentage: 25%
Body Fat Percentage: 45%
Female A and B share the exact same demographics, height, weight…but the difference in Body Fat alters the amount of calories each one burns at rest, shown above as BMR. If we can increase lean muscle, and decrease fat then we will increase our BMR, and our body’s ability to burn more calories at rest, as well as during exercise.
So…If it’s just energy in, energy out…if I just eat less food, won’t I lose weight?
Short term, perhaps. Eventually this can lead to STARVATION mode. The majority of the population has, at some point experienced significant weight loss from a drastic reduction in energy consumption (starvation!), or an increase in energy expenditure (increasing exercise intensity, duration, frequency)…but more than likely it did not last long.
If we eat too far below our basal rate of energy expenditure then our body adjusts to ensure that we do not starve! We all have a survival mechanism. When you eat too far below your basic needs, the body down-regulate or slows the metabolic rate in order to conserve energy for fear that there may not be more food in our future. So, for those of you who are eating less and less and training more and more in an attempt to lose weight, but are getting the opposite affect…you may want to pay close attention to what your BMR is, how many calories you are consuming daily, and how much energy you are expending during exercise. All of these contribute to how your body and your metabolism respond to caloric intake. Until you feed your body, and allow for adequate recovery, the body will not give you permission to burn fat!
Your metabolism can be repaired! If you have been through years and years of yo-yoing; if you have gained and lost 10’s and 20’s of pounds over the years and have seen ups and downs of success, all is not lost. You just have to start where you are now, look at your daily patterns of eating and exercise and start to slowing rebuild and repair. Depending on how long you have been in metabolic danger mode, it may take months to return to homeostasis, but it will happen. Below are some steps you can take to start working toward that process:
1) DO NOT train fasted.
• While there is much research available about the ability to burn fat faster if you train first thing in the morning with an empty stomach…the catabolic effects, especially if you are on a very low calorie diet are only detrimental.
2) Increase Protein…especially early in the day.
• If you can start to increase protein, inevitably your energy levels and energy expenditure will increase. Protein provides the largest thermic effect of any of the three macro nutrients. Meaning…it takes more energy to breakdown protein, than it does carbs or fats. So increasing protein will increase energy expenditure as it breaks down the amino acids in the body.
3) Spread out your meals!
If we consume food too frequently, especially glycogen (carbs/sugars), and we do not allow the body time to break down and use the glycogen stored in our muscles and liver before we replenish it with more food, then we will begin storing the excess glycogen as fat.
We have the science to repair your metabolism, based on what YOU need. If you are ready for SALVATION, and Sick of STARVATION. Let’s Get Dialed In.