How can I maximise my metabolism through exercise and diet?
Metabolism is the sum total of all chemical and physiological changes that take place within the body. This includes the transformation of food into energy, the growth and repair of muscle and bone tissue, and the creation of enzymes and hormones.
While any weight loss regime will cause you to lose pounds in the short run, the real issue is if you will be able to keep it off in the long run. Many of us are still overweight and obese because we have many misconceptions about the metabolic process that cause people to gain and lose body fat.
Most diets fail the test of time and according to the American College of Sports Medicine, people gain back 67 percent of their lost weight within one year and the rest within five years.
If you go back to our human ancestors, who were hunters and gatherers, hunting down animals whether large or small was exhausting. They also walked many miles on a daily basis to gather nuts, vegetables, grains and fruits.
To be able to do this exhausting work on a daily basis, they needed some kind of physical means to store energy and this energy took the form of extra body fat. This is when the body's ability to store fat began as a survival mechanism.
If you eat a diet that is calorically deprived over a long period of time, it actually causes the body to begin to hang on to the fat supplies it has, even adding to them. Going back to our human ancestors, a steady supply of food was not guaranteed and this caused the body to develop the added ability to slow down the metabolism and store extra fat. Therefore this is why very low calorie or starvation diets do not work in the long run.
If you have ever been on one of these diets and wondered why you reached a plateau after losing those initial pounds, it's because your body's natural fat-storing survival mechanism has kicked in. So the message is to eat a certain amount of calories per day to lose body fat and preserve and build lean muscle mass, as eating too few can even cause your body to cannibalise its own lean muscle to get the nutrients needed for survival.
Apart from eating the right number of calories to support your metabolism, it is also important to eat low-glycaemic nutrient dense calories to prolong the length, health and quality of your life. For some, this might indeed mean cutting back on calories and for most this won't be the case.
When a lot of people hear the word carbohydrates, they cringe and avoid them because they think they are fattening. This is not true because you need a basic amount of carbohydrates just to keep brain function and other metabolic processes efficient. Low carbohydrate diets can make you feel exhausted and irritable.
To lose weight, maintain weight and stay healthy, choosing the correct kind of carbohydrate is the key. Sugary and over-processed foods such as cake, sweets, and soft drinks are simple carbohydrates. Bran muffins, brown rice and whole-grain breads are complex carbohydrates. Fruit, vegetables and grains also have a different rate of digestion based on their glycaemic index. By eating carbohydrates that digest slowly and release their energy into the bloodstream gradually, the result is less stored fat. Those that digest quickly release their energy in amounts greater than the body can use.
People also have a fear of eating fats because they associate them with instant weight gain. If we chose low-fat or fat free versions of everything we eat then how boring and tasteless will our diets be?
To consume a diet that is balanced, exciting and tasty, we need to include a sufficient amount of protein and acceptable fats to go with carbohydrates. Those who limit their fat intake typically eat dry toast or bagel, cereal with low-fat milk for breakfast, a sandwich with very little meat and no mayonnaise or cheese for lunch and pasta, brown rice or a potato with a little protein for dinner. Eating all these carbohydrates by themselves can trigger insulin release, causing blood sugar to dip.
Studies have shown that a healthy nutritional program consists of 40 percent low-glycaemic carbohydrates, 30 percent of lean protein and 30 percent acceptable fats.
Fat is essential as it is an energy source that our body needs a certain amount of to be able to function properly. No one can avoid it and expect to stay healthy. Choosing the right kind of fats - mono and polyunsaturated fats vs saturated fats - is an important factor in weight loss, weight management and good health.
The more active you are, the more efficient your metabolism works. This includes everything from planned exercise to walking through the park or playing with your kids. If you're not physically active, you will begin to gain weight.
As you get older, it is not your metabolic processes that are slowing down, it is your lifestyle and level of activity. As muscle tissue is metabolically active and fat just basically sits there, the fatter you are, the less metabolically active your body will be.
So to create metabolic efficiency, engaging in exercise at least 3 times per week for a minimum of twenty to thirty minutes is needed.
Exercising will reduce body fat and increase lean muscle mass. By increasing lean muscle mass, metabolism will increase and aid in the weight-loss process. Muscle tissue uses more calories than fat tissue because it has a higher metabolic rate. There are two main types that will affect your metabolism, having an impact on your BMR and your level of physical activity - Cardiovascular exercise and Resistance training.
The bonus of cardio exercise or aerobic exercise is the speeding up of your metabolism for four to eight hours after you stop exercising. Walking, swimming, jogging sprinting, rowing and cycling are examples of cardiovascular exercise.
Resistance training involves using resistance to build strength and muscle mass. Even though resistance training alone does not speed up your metabolism it does burn fat, increasing your muscle mass which increases your resting metabolic rate. Bodyweight training, weight machines and free weights are examples of resistance training.
A combination of both these two types of exercise will definitely assist in optimal fat burning and metabolism boosting.