Your metabolism is the rate at which your body burns energy.
Simply put, the higher your metabolism, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to lose weight (and keep it off).
Having a higher metabolism also helps you to feel better and have more energy.
We’ve heard it before: people blaming their excess weight on a slow metabolism.
But what qualifies as a “slow” metabolism? Is that really the problem? If so, how can you boost your metabolism to burn more calories?
It is true that metabolism is linked to your weight, but metabolism is rarely the cause of excess weight gain.
While metabolism determines your body’s basic energy needs, the amount of food and drink you consume (your calorie input) along with your level of activity each day (your output) are the things that determine your weight in the end.
When you eat too many calories, you store them as fat. Calories from sugar are more likely to be stored as fat because sugar tricks your body into thinking “here comes a lot of calories.” And it’s usually right: It’s easy to pack a LOT of calories into sugary foods.
But that is for another post.
You want a fast metabolism, meaning your body burns a lot of calories, even at rest. If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat. Obviously, you should eat less. But there are three ways you burn calories.
Basel Metabolic Processes
This is the number of calories your body burns when you’re not moving. This is measured as “basal metabolic rate,” or BMR. The more muscle you have, the higher your BMR will be. The less muscle you have, the lower your BMR will be.
Thermic Effect of Food
It costs a bit of energy to digest food. Not much. It takes slightly more energy to break down proteins than to break down carbs and fats. This is maybe 10% of your total daily intake, at best, but it is important to note that eating more protein not only helps you feel full longer and prevents overeating, but it also is key to building muscle.
Energy Expenditure From Physical Activity
These are the calories required to move you. The more you move, the more you burn. Walking around is a good start, but if weight loss is the goal, walking isn’t going to get you there. Even an hour of intense aerobic exercise might improve your daily calorie use by less than 30%, which is not that much.
The best way to burn calories is to increase your muscle mass. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat. That means lifting weights and doing higher intensity workouts will help you burn more calories, even at rest. There is a direct correlation between skeletal muscle mass and BMR. Meaning by adding more lean muscle, you will improve your metabolism. Better yet, muscle is more compact than fat, so even if you aren’t losing weight – YET – your clothes will fit better and you will have more energy throughout the day.
The bottom line: if you build muscle, you are able to burn far MORE energy while you do your everyday activities.
Creating a caloric deficit is a critical step to losing fat, but it’s not the only step.
If I were going to tell a person the first step to weight loss, I’d tell them to lift weights.
The second step: Cut out sugar.