What is metabolism?
Metabolism refers to the conversion process of food and drinks inside the blood cells to create energy. In details, metabolism refers to a complex biochemical process by which our body, especially digestion system converts what we eat and drink into energy. Basically, its speed depends on the number of calories we need to maintain our body in good condition.
Metabolism & Calorie Requirement
What is our daily need of calories? It is strictly individual for each of us. Listen to your body, study it, be friend with it and you can understand the sufficient calorie-requirement for the normal functioning of your body. In fact, our daily caloric need is consisted of three components:
- Basal Metabolism (BM)
BM refers to the number of calories you need to maintain the normal functioning of our body that means the proper functioning of cardiovascular system, respiratory tract, central nervous system, digestive process, controlled hormone secretion levels, etc. In other words, BM indicates the number of calories burned in our body, even if we are just going to rest on the couch for the whole day. Basal metabolism is also known as general metabolism. Our individual basal metabolism is generally influenced by several factors. Those are:
The energy generation process inside the cells needs the body to maintain the basic functions that are relatively constant and we cannot just change them so. Our basal metabolism exploits approximately 65-70% of the daily caloric consumption and depends mainly on the lean body mass (in particular muscle). BM varies depending on the volume of muscle owned by the individual human-body. Even if, during resting periods an individual with well-built muscle, can burn considerable amount of calories than an individual with skinny body or less muscles.
With the increase of age, the BM reduces by about 2% -3% per decade. Lean body mass is the only factor that can drive an individual to increase or decrease BM. To simplify the calculation of the basal metabolic rate, you can use the following ratio:
However, it would be better, if you can measure your lean muscle mass instead of taking the total weight; unfortunately, few know its value. You can, of course, pass a special test called the “impedance”, and calculate the percentage of “dry” mass (muscle), fat tissue, bone mass and water in your body. By the way, it is possible to use special electronic scales.
- Thermal effect of food (TEP)
TEP refers to the number of calories required for digestion and absorption of nutrients extraction of energy. The share of TEP in total calorie-requirement by the body is about 10%, and some estimates are even lower. TEP as well as BM are relatively stable and are not subject to our control.
You need to remember that the absorption of nutrients such as proteins, fats and carbohydrates, takes a different amount of energy. For example, the energy consumption from the digestion of protein, fat and carbohydrates are approximately 15-20%, 3%, and 10-15% respectively. Therefore, the greater sources of energy are proteins and carbohydrates. Both the thermal effect of food as well as basal metabolism decreases with the growth of age. Although it is believed that physical activity and sports training affect the TIC, but it is still a mystery how this relationship works.
- Thermal effect of activity (TEA)
TEA refers to the rest portion of the daily caloric needs, which is spent on daily life, during work and exercise, that is, to perform various physical activities, including walking and climbing stairs, morning exercises, shopping, applying a vacuum cleaner, gaming like tennis, swimming, dancing, etc. In general, TEA covers about 15-30% of the daily caloric consumption and depends on how active you are.
Physical activity is the most effective way to burn out calories. However, it depends on the individuals, how s/he can manage it. This is a very important tool for weight loss. For the individuals who lead sedentary lifestyles, TEA is much lower than those who regularly go through heavy physical workouts.
Calories are burned through physical activities and this process is directly related to the mass of your muscles. Muscles perform physical work and simultaneously burn calories. The body builds muscle again and continues this endless cycle. Therefore, to burn more calories, you need to increase your physical activity and build up muscle mass.
Depending on the intensity and duration of exercise, metabolic processes of thermal effect activity can persist for hours after exercise, even if when your body is at rest. Therefore, after a workout while on vacation, you continue to “burn” calories, and you continue to lose weight. And this is certainly one of the most significant benefits of exercise in weight loss. Recent studies show that the more intense the exercise, the longer the effect of burning calories after your workout, which is longer than the combustion process of calories inside the blood-cells.
Weight Management requires that all mechanisms of energy consumption (BM, TEP and TEA) would work harmoniously and play its role according to the systematic regulation of the body to maintain the balance in energy generation process.
Metabolism and Arithmetic weight loss
Consider one golden rule:
So, if you consume more calories than the daily requirement for them, you will gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than the daily requirement – you will lose weight. Example: your daily caloric needs without exercise is 2000 kcal. During the meal you consume 2500 calories, and then you have a surplus of 500 calories a day. Based on this, you will get 1 kg of excess weight within 15 days (500 calories x 15 = 7,500 calories).
Now, what to do? The answer is simple: there should be a balance between your diet and the calorie-burning process through physical activity. Therefore, you should do enough physical workouts every day to burn at least 300 to 400 calories to achieve your weight loss target.
Metabolic weight loss through physical activity
Although we do not have much control over the rate of metabolism, but still we can control how many calories are burned with the level of our physical activity. Therefore, it can be said that the more active you are, the more calories you burn. This will help us:
Regular aerobic exercise
Normal walking, Nordic walking, cycling, swimming, etc. are the most effective ways to burn out calories. Therefore, you have to pay at least 30 minutes for aerobic exercise every day. If you want to achieve some other big goals of exercise, you can increase the training even more. If you find it difficult to immediately identify a lot of time for exercise, try smaller (about 10-minute) sessions throughout the day. Remember, the more active you are, the more weight you lose.
They perfectly counteract with the loss of muscles, which is associated with aging. That’s because muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, which is undeniably a key factor in the weight loss challenge.
Your body constantly burns calories, even when you do nothing. We have already said that the rate of metabolism in the individuals with higher muscle mass is much higher. Every kg of muscle burns out about 13 calories a day just to maintain itself, while each kg of fat only burns 5 calories per day. After a session of physical training, the muscles get more activated and begin to burn more calories, which speed up the metabolic weight loss process.
Adjust the intensity of physical activity
The next time you go to the gym, swimming pool or a jog around the house, pay special attention to the rate of activity you perform. Try to increase the pace of action you perform for about 30 – 60 seconds, and then return to the normal speed for about 90 seconds. Repeat this five times, 2 times per week. Using this strategy, you consume more oxygen, this increases the number of mitochondria and you burn calories more efficiently during the day.
Aerobic exercise will not help you build big muscles, but they definitely increase the speed of your metabolism for several hours after a workout. An exercise of high intensity provides a longer-level rise of metabolism than a workout with low or medium intensity level.
Leave sedentary life style
Any physical activity helps to burn out calories. Do not be lazy. Apply simple ways to burn calories, for instance, do not use the elevator; go up and down the stairs on foot; you walk to work; etc. Even activities, such as, working at the cottage, garage, etc. promote the metabolic weight loss system inside the body.
Do not forget the night’s sleep
Specialists Medical Research Center in Portland (USA) found that the individuals who follow any diet, but sleep only six hours, lose 55 percent less fat than those who sleep at least eight.
As a result of inadequate sleep, the body produces less Leptin – the hormone of satiety – and more Ghrelin – the hormone of hunger. These tempt an individual to eat more than s/he should. Therefore, the more you sleep at night, the more efficient metabolism you have for the day.
Scientists recommend sleeping in a cool room or shelter with a blanket. Then at night the metabolism improves, and the body will burn more calories.
It is also important, in what mood you go to bed. For instance, if you enjoy any film/book that increases tension in your mind, then the body will produce the stress hormone Cortisol, which in turn slows down the metabolic process inside your body.
At night, it would be better not eating carbohydrates; otherwise the body can even block the metabolism, and enhance weight-gain.
How to speed up metabolism through eating and drinking habit
Drink more water
Water is directly involved in all biochemical processes occurring inside the body and plays a crucial and significant role in the metabolic weight loss process. However, remember that Tea, coffee and carbonated drinks cannot fulfill the water-requirement of the body to maintain the essential water-balance.
What remains unfortunate organism in constant dehydration? Right! Adjust and slow down your metabolism in order to save more valuable liquid and reduce its losses.
The conclusion is obvious – drink plenty of clean drinking water without sugar and other additives. However, to give up tea and coffee at the same time is not mandatory. Just keep the consumption level under reasonable limit and drink pure water.
Remember two important rules:
Research shows that drinking pure water and controlling the consumption of sugary drinks, will significantly improve your health and enhance the metabolic weight loss rate inside the blood-cells.
Eat 5-6 times a day
Scientists have shown that when you do not take meals for several continuous hours, you brain thinks assumes a long time unfed state of your body and starts to store calories inside the body-cells. As a result, your metabolism process gets slow down. Conversely, if you take meals at short (about 4 hours) intervals, then it will keep your blood sugar under control and allow the body to maintain a constant metabolism process, which will burn more calories throughout the day. It can be mentioned here that several studies show that individuals who regularly eat snacks, generally eat less per day. So in any case do not let yourself go hungry!
Consume protein enriched foods
Your body digests protein more slowly than fat or carbohydrates, so you feel full for longer (especially when you eat a lot of protein for breakfast) periods. Besides this, protein-foods help to speed up the metabolism process inside the body-cells. How it happens? The calorie-burning process is called Thermo-genesis. Under this process, your body exploits about 10% of all calories obtained from digestion of foods including, protein, carbohydrates and fat.
One recent study at Purdue University found another benefit of a high-protein diet helps us to build and maintain the body mass and muscle; even if, during respite the body-cells burns more calories.
Protein enriched food sources include: lean meat, turkey, fish, white meat chicken, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, buckwheat, quinoa, and low fat dairy products.
Do not skip breakfast!
It is important to focus not only on ‘what’ to eat, but also ‘when’ to eat. The most important meal is breakfast. If you want to speed up the metabolism, then you should not skip your breakfast in any case. A healthy breakfast gives your body a powerful start-charge to maintain the metabolism process more efficiently.
Please note that your morning meal should be rich in nutrients, especially protein. This can be oatmeal with berries and almonds; or omelet with spinach, low-fat cheese; or a slice of whole-wheat bread or cottage cheese with berries.
Include citrus in your diet
Citrus foods, like, Oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruits, etc. should be included in your regular diet. In addition to vitamins and other nutrients, citrus foods contain citric acid. Citric acid plays a key role in the energy generation cycle, which contributes in strengthening metabolism and losing weight.
However, if you have digestive problems, should not eat citrus fruits on an empty stomach – it can exacerbate existing ailments.
Eat omega-3 fatty acid enriched foods
Omega-3 is present in fish, vegetable oils and some nuts in large quantities. Omega-3 helps to regulate the secretion levels of the hormone Leptin inside the body, which affects the metabolic rate at a significant level.
By including the omega-3 fatty acid enriched foods in your diet, you can spur your metabolism and increase your body’s ability to burn fat cells. Get into the habit of consuming fish oil every day. But if the fish oil and the smell cause you insurmountable aversion, then as an alternative to fish oil, you can include foods such as fatty fish (salmon, trout, tuna, sardines and mackerel), flaxseed and canola oil, walnuts in your regular diet.
The study of obesity conducted in rats, shows that rats taking fish oil before exercise, lost significantly more weight than those who did not.
Avoid strict diets
The term ‘strict diet’ refers to the reduced amount of calorie intake – 1200 a day (for women) and 1800 (for men) – per day. If you want to speed up your metabolism, then you need to avoid following a strict diet. Despite the fact that such a diet can help you lose a few extra kilos, there is another side to the coin. In a strict diet, the body is likely to lose muscle mass, and thus it will slow down your metabolism. As a result, your body starts to burn fewer calories before starting the diet. However, after following a strict diet, it becomes hard for the body to lost weight through metabolism. In your regular diets, it is important to comply with one simple rule – Eat enough calories to maintain normal metabolic rate at rest.
How to determine your metabolic rate at rest? After reading the following formula, you will know an interesting fact that the more you weigh, the faster your metabolism. You are recommended to use a formula called ‘muffin-Dzheora’, as it is considered more reliable than the ‘Harris-Benedict’ formula.
As mentioned earlier, BMR – basal metabolic rate (metabolism) refers to the energy that the body needs to maintain its functions without performing any other exercise that is, resting metabolism. Here is a link to a calculator BMR, which considers all the work for you. If you want to calculate it yourself, here’s the formula:
However, it is not mandatory to strictly maintain all rules mentioned above. But if you want to speed up your metabolic weight process, then you should follow as many rules as possible. If you cannot lose weight despite following rules, taking balanced diet and doing regular workouts, then you are advised to consult a dietitian.