This word “metabolism” gets tossed around a lot these days.
It’s a pretty good bet that you know if yours is too slow you may gain weight. You may even have Googled to see if there’s a way to speed yours up or even if yours is “broken”. You may even wonder what all this metabolism talk is about.
Little science lesson….
“Metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body. It’s how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do. I’m talking everything from sleep to working out.
Your body is one amazing machine. It has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and just keep you alive. And without this amazing biochemistry you, my dear, would not be possible.
Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:
- Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
- Enable activities you can’t control (e.g. heartbeat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
- Permit storage of excess energy for later.
So, putting all these processes together into your metabolism, it’s easy to see how these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right. It’s just like Goldilocks!!!
Which brings us to “metabolic rate”.
- This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yep, those dang calories!).
The calories you eat can go to one of three places:
- Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
- Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions—just keeping you alive).
- Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).
As you can imagine, the more calories you burn by work or creating heat, the easier it’s gonna to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.
So, let’s talk about a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate.
- Resting Metabolic Rate” (RMR)
How much energy your body uses when you’re not being physically active. (e.g. keeping that heart pumping, lungs breathing, brain functioning, etc. Ya know things that happen without you thinking about them.)
- Total Daily Energy Expenditure” (TDEE)
Measures both the resting metabolic rate AND the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.
What affects your metabolic rate?
In a nutshell: a lot!
The first thing you may think of is your thyroid. This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism. Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn. If it slows, then you can see an increase in weight (and a slew of other things).
But that’s not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.
How much you weigh counts too!
Think about it. The more you weigh, the more “energy” you will need to function. Plus, if you weigh more you’ll expend more energy just moving around. It takes more effort to move 200 lbs than it does 100 lbs, make sense?
Even though larger people have higher metabolic rates, your body composition is crucial!
Active and working muscles need more energy than fat does. So, the more lean muscle mass you have, the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be. Even when you’re not working out!!!
This is exactly why I recommend weight training/resistance training as part of a weight loss program. Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you. Plus, you can find out 10 Unconventional Ways to Speed Up Weight Loss just by signing up for my weekly newsletter (to the right of this article).
Let’s go off on a tangent & dispel a quick myth here:
Muscle does NOT weigh less than fat!!!! Do you need to read that again?!
1 lb of bricks = 1 lb of feathers. Same with fat & muscle. 1 lb = 1 lb
Muscle is denser than fat. So, you can still weigh the same but say buh-bye to turkey wing arms & hello to a perky booty & better fitting jeans. BAM!!!! What woman doesn’t want that?!
Now back to the program…
The thing is, when people lose weight, their metabolic rate often slows down, and I Know you don’t want that hap’nin. So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass (cough, cough lift weights), NOT by running longer on the treadmill.
Aerobic exercise Temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles burn fuel to move so they’re doing “work”.
The type of food you eat is another way to change your metabolic rate!
Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food. This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).
You can use this to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.
Fats, for example, increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%. By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate. Now, I’m not saying go hog wild & start eating tons of meat or throwing down protein shakes left or right, but just something to think about, especially if you’re a carb-o-holic.
Another bonus of protein is your muscles need it to grow. By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.
And don’t forget the mind-body connection. There is plenty of research that shows things like stress and sleep have a negative effect on the metabolic rate. So, if you need help bringing down those stress levels, check out my post on 7 Ways to Bring Down Your Stress…
Whew, that was a lot, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.
I hope you enjoy this quick and easy recipe that may help you get a little more tasty & healthy protein into your diet.
Do you try to get some weight/resistance training so your metabolism can benefit?
Lemon-Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts
A lemon herb chicken that is great as served with a side of veggies or on top of a salad.
- 2 lemons sliced
- 1 Tbs Fresh Rosemary or 1 tsp Dried
- 1 Tbs Fresh Thyme or 1 tsp Dried
- 2 Cloves Garlic thinly sliced
- 4 Chicken Breasts abt 1 lb (Boneless, Skinless)
- Dash Salt & Pepper
- 1 Tbs Avocado Oil
Preheat oven to 350 F. Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.
Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken. Drizzle with oil. Cover with a lid or foil.
Bake 30-45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (165 F). If you want the chicken to be a bit more browned, then remove the lid/foil for the last 1/2 of the time or broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).
Serve & Enjoy!
- To give the chicken even more flavor, slice the breasts, return to the pan & toss in the lemon juice & herbs.
- You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!