Episode 5 of my podcast What A Mouthful is all about how to boost your metabolism, and is not what you think it is. I delve deep into it and explain it in a way you’ve never thought of it before. Here’s the main points.
When you think of ‘metabolism’ I’m sure you’ve heard that spicy foods, lemon, coffee or rigourous exercise are what you need to boost it.
Well, I have a different opinion…
First, we need to get a grasp on what metabolism actually is…
- your resting metabolic rate (RMR) – it’s the calories you burn at rest…
- plus the thermogenic effect of food – the calories you burn while breaking down the food you’ve eaten…
- and the energy you use both when exercising (Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) and when moving around in your day (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis).
Metabolism is not quick fixes, magic pills, starvation diets and laxative teas.
And the main issue I see with women especially with the incredible burden to have as tiny a figure as they can manage, is that they’re counting calories like their life depends on it, and posting images of their fitbits displaying how many calories they’ve burned….
I’m just not about that life.
The reason I don’t recommend eating to a specific calorie number is that our bodies are so dynamic! Ranges (like I have in FlowFit) YES, but specific numbers NO.
Here’s why we shouldn’t be so stressed about hitting specific calorie targets (e.g. 1720.)
- Our RMR actually fluctuates everyday. You’ll notice this because some days you have high energy and some days you feel tired.
- Our TEF will change based on the fact you likely eat different meals (or you’ll bore yourself to tears).
- Your energy output will be different. Some days you’ll have scheduled (or be able to handle) a heavy training sessions and other days you’ll want to go for a walk. Plus, some forms of exercise have the ability to increase your metabolic rate for hours afterwards and this is what known as exercise post oxygen consumption ( EPOC ).
So the obsession with our metabolism, for us women is only because there’s a big societal pressure to look a certain way. We’ve warped our understanding of how to actually heal it and fix it, and in the process have created much more damage to our bodies AND our relationship with food.
If we put the numbers in and numbers out aside (because they’ll NEVER be as accurate as you think anyway) I think it’s important to ask yourself, do I have a healthy metabolism?
And you’ll be able to answer “yes” to that question if you’re able to maintain a healthy body weight fairly easily.
By “healthy body weight” I mean you have optimised levels of muscle with enough ‘energy in’ to match what your body needs in the day and you don’t have high levels of excess fat (more specifically, visceral fat – dangerous fat that accumulates around your organs).
Most importantly…when you look at what makes up the bigger influence on metabolism, the bigger influence between the calories burned during intentional exercise VS the calories burned outside of intentional exercise is the calories burned outside of it. That means that when you are eating, sleeping, or walking, that actually has a bigger overall impact on the amount of calories burned in the day than your training session does.
The Effects of Stress on Metabolism
In 2016, the Institute of Neuro-Science & Physiology of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that the activation of HPA access and CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone) can explain the weight loss that happens from short term (acute) stress. On the other hand, the release of glucocorticoids and neuro-peptide Y can explain the weight gain from long term (chronic) stress (including visceral fat).
So when you are acutely stressed, that can explain why you might lose weight in the short term. However, that same mechanism, if it goes on for too long, would actually be the reason why you gained weight. So it is really important to understand the influence of stress on your metabolism.
That’s why, first and foremost, when it comes to metabolism, the most important thing to address is stress. That means you should focus on either reducing your stress OR helping your body manage stress better i.e. Improve your stress resilience.
TRY THIS FOR STRESS RESILIENCE
- Talking to a friend
- Any activity that is stress-reducing for you (that doesn’t increase your physical stress like smoking or alcohol.)
And secondly, we must improve our digestion. Everything that improves your digestion is what actually improves your metabolism, since metabolism is defined as ‘the rate of chemical reactions in the body’s cells that change food into energy‘ and digestion is the breakdown of food into energy… so they are one in the same!!
TRY THIS FOR BOOSTING YOUR METABOLISM
1) Have lots of water and nourishing balanced-meals.
2) Make sure you exercise and move your body in a way that works best for your body… but more below on this
3) Reduce your stress or improve your ability to cope with it (strategies mentioned above!
And these 3 things are also what makes up my 3 Pillars of Health which is Fuel, Move and Focus.
As I mentioned above, a really important thing also to consider is that certain types of exercise are fantastic hacking tools to help repair and speed up your metabolism.
The Case For Resistance Training
The article from the Journal of Clinical Investigation from 1990 found that individuals with more muscle meant a more favourable metabolic rate. Plus, an article from 2021 in Nutrients said that largely both resistance and endurance (weight & cardio) – but especially resistance – when combined with a higher protein intake than the recommended 0.8gm/kl of bodyweight/day was the most effective intervention when it comes to weight management.
Additionally, building muscle improves our cell batteries (mitochondria). The reason is that when we build muscle cells, what we’re actually doing it replicating muscle cells, and with every additional cell, means more batteries. More batteries = more energy produced in your body!
For the full episode, listen HERE.
If you loved these tips let me know @deezibara.