If you do a Google search for “metabolism” you’ll probably come up with quite a few results. Take it a step further by clicking on one of the links, and you might get bombarded with pop-up ads for workout DVD’s, supplements, and a little tidbit on that secret food you’re not eating but should. Confusing, isn’t it? But fitness is big business and everyone wants to know the small things you can do to help creep up that metabolism so you can feel just a little bit younger and have some more energy throughout the day.
It’s tough to fix something if you don’t understand how it works. Don’t worry; I’ll keep this physiology lesson quick and straight to the point. Metabolism is the basically the sum of all the building and breaking down processes of your body (1). Think of it like you’re a land developer – you certainly want to be building more houses than breaking them down. If you can build attractive and sturdy houses, then you’re doing a good job. If people are fleeing your neighborhood like something from World War Z, then you might want to rethink your strategy.
That’s what metabolism is all about. Everything you do, and every cellular process, contributes to metabolism. Sounds pretty heavy duty, but metabolism goes far beyond what you do in the gym. In fact, almost as much as 70% of the food you eat goes to just regulating vital function, such as breathing and keeping your heart pumping (2).
So if 70% of your energy goes to keeping essential functions going, that leaves little room for error when it comes to the other things you can do. No, that’s not to imply that you need to workout all the time, but actually quite the opposite. You need to take care of your body outside of the gym in order for your metabolism to work at its fullest.
So if your stress levels are through the roof every day, there’s a good chance to your metabolism is suffering (3). Remember every cellular process contributes to our metabolic rate, and cells can’t function when they are stressed.
Cutting calories, or skipping meals, is another sure fire way to wreck your metabolism. The body likes whole, real foods, and when you deprive it of that, it starts to slow down. A study using a 16 week calorie restricted diet had subjects actually lower their metabolic rate by 10% (4)!
Conversely, if you take care of your body like you take care of a new car, then you’ll be in good business. Stay tuned and check out other articles for tips on how to elevate your metabolism.
1. Seeley, Stephens, Tate. Anatomy and Physiology: 7th Edition.China: McGraw Hill. 2006, pp 940-941
2. Berardi, John. Andrews, Ryan. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition 2nd ed. Precision Nutrition. 2013.pp 104
3. Chek, Paul. How to Eat, Move, and Be Healthy. San Diego: Chek Institute Publishing. 2004, page 209
4. Luscombe, N.D., Clifton, P.M., Boakes, M, et al. “Effect of a High Protein, Energy Restricted Diet on Weight Loss and Energy Expenditure After Weight Stabilization in Hyperinsulinemic Subjects.” Internal Journal of Obesity. 27(2003): 582-590