That extra layer of fat that seems to be impossible to lose? Must be your slow metabolism.
But before we blame metabolism for all of life’s woes let’s learn more about what it really is.
When talking about metabolism we will refer to Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR. BMR measures the energy required for life-sustaining processes that break down food into chemical energy. That energy allows your body to perform vital functions such as circulating blood, contracting muscles, digestion, repairing and building new cells, and absorption of nutrients.
When you eat more, your metabolism speeds up and in times of famine or caloric restriction your body will slow down BMR, so you burn fewer calories. This is a good adaption for survival but can be a pain in the butt when trying to shed fat or build muscle.When you add BMR to the thermogenic effects of digestion and physical activity it equals your total caloric expenditure.
Over the years, many misconceptions have believed about speeding up metabolism. Things that were once considered fact have since been proven false. However, much of the general public still believes these three old outdated myths.
It was once a popular belief that you needed to eat six small meals a day to speed up your metabolism and prevent your body from going into a fat storing mode. The truth is that even though food does have a thermogenic property it balances out regardless of how many meals you eat.
The calories burned from the thermic effect of food (TEF) is directly proportional to the amount consumed. So whether you eat 3000 calories in 3 meals or 6 meals the calories burned from converting that food to cellular energy is the same. In fact, short-term fasting lasting less than 24 hours increases your metabolism.
The main things dictating someone’s BMR are age, race, sex and body composition. Not a lot you can do to change your race or gender, but you can control your body composition in a way that increases or decreases your metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn at rest to supply them with the nutrients and blood flow they require. To accomplish this, you must incorporate resistance training. Lifting weights increases your BMR by building new muscle tissue and then insulin action promotes mobilization of body fat for fuel. Lifting with high intensity also increases the number of mitochondria and their rate of fat burning.
Performing cardio regularly helps increase your BMR through insulin actions as well as cellular and enzymatic processes. Additionally, after an intense cardio session, your metabolism is boosted from the “oxygen deficit” created causing the EPOC effect to occur. EPOC can last for days after the workout. During this time, your metabolism is elevated, and you burn more calories. So burn more calories, and see better results with EPOC.
Your diet can play a role in your metabolism as well. Consuming a higher amount of protein requires more calories to be spent on the thermogenic process of converting it into useable energy. Fat and carbohydrates do not use as many calories to process. Additionally, protein will spare lean muscle when in a caloric deficit contributing to elevated metabolism. So consume at least .8g/lb.
It’s also a good idea to avoid highly processed food when possible and stick to natural and organic food sources. Some studies show elevated levels of estrogen and negative impacts on the thyroid slowing down the BMR with higher percentages of processed foods consumed. Natural foods are also void of artificial trans fats that negatively impact mitochondrial efficiency and fat burning. Trans fats also increase inflammation and insulin resistance which will ultimately slow down your metabolism.
One more way to increase metabolism is to keep cortisol levels down. Our bodies adapted over thousands of years to slow caloric expenditure when cortisol levels were elevated like during times of food scarcity and stress. Unfortunately, our modern world causes chronically elevated levels of cortisol so make sure to get adequate sleep and manage stress levels appropriately.
The skinnier you are, the slower your metabolism. The larger your body, the more calories are required for all of your life-sustaining functions. BMR makes up a very large portion of your total caloric expenditure. The other main contributor is physical activity. If you are the person having trouble building and maintaining muscle, simply consume more calories and lower your physical activity. Try a low volume training program and limit cardio. You can’t blame your metabolism for preventing you from gaining weight unless you have a medical condition like hyperthyroidism, you most likely just need to eat more.
However, most people are seeking to speed up their metabolism to get leaner, so let’s look at some additional help to achieve this. There are some proven supplements that help speed up your metabolism.
This herb has been shown in studies to increase metabolism, increase fat burning, stimulate thyroid function, and boost metabolism. In addition to building lean muscle and shedding fat, forskolin can increase metabolism by raising levels of an enzyme called adenylate cyclase. That enzyme is a precursor to a chemical messenger, cyclic amp (cAMP). Cyclic amp increases lipolysis and thyroid hormone secretion. These elevated thyroid levels burn more calories when you are at rest.
This has been proven in many studies to increase caloric expenditure independent of exercise and other factors. It also has been shown to directly target belly fat and improve such things as blood flow and levels of inflammation. This in turn allows your workouts and recovery to be more effective, building more muscle and further speeding up metabolism.
This compound is derived from immature fruits and mimics our adrenal hormone epinephrine. This is part of our fight or flight response and elevates metabolism and weight loss in multiple studies.
Many people lose significant muscle when trying to lose fat. It can be a very frustrating process because lost muscle mass results in fewer calories being burned. This often means hitting a plateau if you’re lucky, and sometimes you end up going backward and gain more body fat than when you started your diet. BCAA’s help fight catabolism when in a caloric deficit and ensure you aren’t sacrificing muscles and metabolism in your battle to shed fat. Have your own, and boast about a great body.
The most popular drug in the world, and for good reason! Not only can it kickstart your day it can also kickstart your metabolism. Caffeine helps mobilize body fat through increased levels of the adrenal hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine. Studies show increased BMR’s in people supplementing with caffeine, but this effect is diminished over time with excessive use. Also worth noting the BMR boosting effects of caffeine are more pronounced if you are leaner. Obese individuals have been shown to experience much less of an increase in BMR.
Sheer Strength Labs Thermogenic contains all of these (other than BCAA’s) in one convenient capsule and is a great addition to speeding up the metabolism and burning fat. Get ripped, and get your Sheer Strength Labs Thermogenic.
There are many “miracle” supplements out there that claim to boost metabolism. Elevating your metabolism should not be your direct focus. It is often used as a marketing ploy to give people hope of weight loss without having to work hard for it. That’s not the way it works. You must actively work out intensely and consume a caloric deficit to burn fat. Supplements can aid in the process, but they won’t do the entire job.
Jonathan Warren is a national level physique competitor and personal trainer with multiple certifications including NASM, NCCPT, and IKFF. His specializations include mobility training and corrective exercise as well as contest preparation.
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