Health, fitness and weight management is all about balancing the number of calories you take in (eat) with the number of calories your burn (metabolize). In general, fit people have higher metabolic rates. Just what is metabolism? Your metabolism is the process by which your body converts food into energy and then puts that energy to use. You need energy for rigorous activities like jogging or biking, but you also need those calories to fuel bodily processes such as breathing and keeping your heart beating.
Scientifically speaking, there are four components that make up your total daily metabolic burn rate: 1) your resting metabolic rate (RMR or the number of calories your body burns at rest) 2.) TEF or the thermic effect of metabolizing food 3). The amount of calories you burn when going about your daily activities and 4.) physical activity which includes lifestyle activities as well as the planned exercise you partake in. Each of these areas can be tweaked to boost your total daily calorie burn rate. Here are 6 tips for staying lean and fit by igniting each of these metabolic areas in different ways:
- Boost your calorie-burning furnace by strength-training. The only scientifically proven method of enhancing the number of calories your body burns at rest (RMR) is to change your body composition meaning adding more muscle mass. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat (one pound of muscle burns approximately 9 times the calories as a pound of fat) so by increasing muscle mass through intensive strength training, you can increase RMR to a small degree. Strength-building exercises also help maintain your bone density and balance, two important factors in healthy aging.
- Daily cardio adds to your burn. Here is where you have the greatest daily control over your total burn rate. Cardio is the greatest calorie burner in the least amount of time. Combine a daily cardio expenditure of a few hundred calories with your strength training workout calorie burn and you have a one-two punch which will guarantee to fire up your metabolism.
- Power up your protein intake. Eating a small amount of lean protein at every meal is also an effective metabolism booster. Protein takes more calories to assimilate thereby raising your TEF to a greater degree than carbs or fat.
- Eat small, frequent meals. And don’t forget to eat small frequent meals throughout the day (another proven metabolism booster) rather than consolidating your entire food intake into just one or two large meals. Eating metabolism-raising foods in small quantities, spread throughout the day, will also provide you with a stable blood sugar level and a constant source of energy needed for metabolism. It is also important that you do not skip breakfast or drastically reduce your calorie intake as it will be interpreted by your body as potential starvation and lead to a slowdown in your metabolism.
- Get enough Z’s. Sleep deprivation actually has been shown to harm your body’s endocrine function and capacity to metabolize carbohydrates. Translation: when you don’t get a good night’s sleep you decrease your calorie burning potential. Aim for at least 7 solid hours per night to help your metabolism run more smoothly.
- Practice stress reduction. Stress triggers the release of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. When cortisol bathes your body’s tissue it stimulates fat storage, particularly around the middle (the more dangerous location). Cortisol also slows metabolism. Practicing healthy stress reduction techniques such as exercise, listening to music, gardening or any other relaxation technique will lower the amount of cortisol and help you maximize your metabolic rate.
Remember, you can take action to enhance your total daily metabolic rate. Targeting your calorie burn from multiple angles using the scientifically proven strategies outlined above, is an effective way to control your metabolism. Follow these 6 tips with the support of Fitness Together and you can and will ignite your inner inferno!