The winning formula to weight loss is to expend more calories than you take in from food.
The output portion of this formula is your metabolic rate. It is the rate at which your body uses energy, measured as the number of calories you burn over a given period of time.
Your metabolic rate is made up of three components:
1. Thermic effect of food. About 10% of your total calories burned are used for eating, digesting, absorbing, and storing food. This is the only component that you cannot alter; it is beyond your control.
2. Basal metabolic rate (BMR). About 70% of your total energy expenditure is used for keeping you alive, such as breathing, pumping of the heart, maintaining body temperature and other basic life support functions. This is the number of calories you will still expend if you were to lie in bed all day.
3. Physical activity About 20% of your total energy expenditure is related to your lifestyle.
To rev up your metabolic rate, it is possible to augment the last two components, which methods we will discuss in the following:
In general, when you want to lose weight, you can
- Reduce your food intake by cutting calories, and/or
- Increase your calorie expenditure by upping your metabolic rate.
Many people go on extreme diets to lose weight, not understanding what low calorie dieting can do to your body.
Drawbacks Of Low Calorie Dieting —
- It slows down your metabolism, making it progressively more difficult to lose weight and keep it off. When faced with a shortage of calories, your body thinks that it is famine time and goes into conservation mode by slowing down the metabolic rate and storing fat.
- If the self-imposed famine lasts long enough, the body starts to break down muscle tissue for fuel. When protein is broken down, nitrogen is released. Your body immediately washes away the nitrogen by releasing water from tissue cells, causing a rapid reduction in water weight and a noticeable drop on the scale.
- However, this water weight is quickly regained when you have something to drink. Moreover, the muscle loss is detrimental to your metabolism because muscle burns more calories than fat. When you have less muscle and a higher percentage of body fat, you have a slower metabolic rate and lower daily caloric requirements, i.e. it is easier for you to regain the weight and probably at a faster rate.
Therefore, crash diets are counter-productive. Instead, you should focus on eating a sensible diet of natural, non-processed foods.
In addition, understanding your specific body type is equally important when losing weight. Just as you are unique in all other respects, your body has a unique biochemistry that requires certain proportions and types of healthy carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that differs from other peoples’ requirements. Learning your “metabolic type” will help you get started on an eating plan that is right for you. Coupled with a fired up metabolism, you will then achieve permanent weight loss.
There are two ways to fire up your metabolism –
(1) INCREASE YOUR BASAL METABOLIC RATE (BMR)
Before discussing how to increase your BMR, if you have difficulty losing weight or are battling continued weight gain, the first thing you should do is to get a thyroid test. This is a simple blood test for thyroid hormones. If you have undiagnosed hypothyroidism (a slow thyroid) or if your condition is not adequately treated, almost anything you do to raise your metabolism will fail.
Human beings are not created equal; you have your own unique BMR.
Your BMR is influenced by a number of factors –
- Sex. Men usually have more muscles and less body fat than women of the same age and weight. Therefore, men generally have a higher BMR and burn more calories than women do.
- Age. Starting at around the age of 30, the amount of muscle begins to decrease and fat starts to accumulate. After age 45-50 and at around menopause, this process accelerates. Metabolism slows naturally with age. These changes reduce your caloric needs. However, there are still ways to combat muscle loss associated with ageing. (See below)
- Genes. Children of obese mothers are much more likely to become obese themselves. Also, people who fidget or move around a lot unconsciously tend to have a higher BMR.
- Climate. BMR rises in hot temperatures.
- Hormones. Menopause affects metabolism but in different ways for different people.
- Gastric bypass surgery. The procedure reduces the content capacity of the stomach, bringing caloric intake down and decreases BMR overtime.
- Celiac disease. People who have this disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found mainly in wheat, rye, and barley. It is a fairly common disease occurring in 1% of the U.S. population, with about 2 million people undiagnosed. The disease affects the stomach’s ability to digest food and reduces BMR.
Most effective way to increase your BMR —
- As mentioned above, ageing results in a decline in lean muscle mass. Therefore, for optimal health and effective weight loss, you ideally want to increase your lean muscle mass and decrease your percentage of body fat. Muscle cells are up to 8 times more metabolically active than fat cells; besides, muscle burns more calories than fat.
- Adding strength training exercises 2-3 times a week will help counteract muscle loss associated with aging. When you have more muscles, your BMR is higher. It is like having a burning furnace throughout the day, even when you are not exercising.
- To achieve permanent weight loss, you want to build lean muscles and lose fat. Since muscle is a much denser tissue than fat, it weighs more. Therefore, with strength training, it is likely that the number on the scale might not move much at all, in fact, it might even go up. However, your clothes will get loser. At this point, the scale can become misleading and discourage you when you are actually doing great. The truth is that it is possible to get smaller and heavier at the same time.
- Your goal is to have a sleek, healthy body of a naturally lean person who can enjoy what they eat. You want to avoid at all costs the frail, sagging body of a chronic dieter who has to measure every morsel of food. Start incorporating strength training into your exercise routine.
(2) INCREASE YOUR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
- Apart from raising your BMR, increasing your physical activity is another way to boost the metabolic rate. This means having a more active lifestyle which ranges from taking the stairs, mowing the lawn, parking further away from the store and walking, to incorporating some forms of aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, running, cycling, or swimming.
- Aerobic exercise increases the heart rate and you burn calories while working out. Aerobic exercise also burns more calories than strength training; however, unlike strength training, the effect wears off soon after you stop exercising. In other words, aerobic exercise is not as effective in raising BMR as strength training. Therefore, a balanced workout should incorporate both aerobic and strength training exercises.
- For those who choose walking as a workout please be aware that unless you are starting out in relatively poor shape, slow-paced walking on a flat surface might not produce enough benefits for weight loss. Further, after a few weeks of walking, you need to raise the intensity of the exercise by increasing the speed or start walking on an incline. When you do this, you raise your heart rate and you burn more calories.
If you have a health condition or if you have not exercised for a while, you should consult your physician before starting any strength training or exercise program.
5 Tips To Fire Up Your Metabolism
- Build muscle with strength training exercise, 2-3 times a week.
- Be physically active. Get enough aerobic exercise, at least 30-60 minutes per day, 3-5 times a week.
- Don’t starve yourself and don’t skip meals. Make sure you eat breakfast. This will prevent the body from getting into the “hoard” mode, thinking it is famine time after many hours without food.
- Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water everyday. Dehydration can contribute to an inefficient metabolism by slightly lowering your body temperature and causing your body to store fat as a way to help raise or maintain the body temperature.
- Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Sleep deprivation alters your hormonal balance and metabolism. Leptin, which is the hormone that signals satiety falls, while ghrelin, which is the hormone that signals hunger rises, hence, boosting your appetite. Sleep deprivation also decreases the sensitivity of your insulin receptors and results in higher insulin levels, which impairs your ability to burn fat. In addition, it increases your risk of type II diabetes.