Metabolism 101


Say “No Thank You” to a slow metabolismMetabolism is a word that is thrown around a lot when talking about weight loss. Some people like to blame it on their weight gain, or inability to lose weight. Other people like to judge by saying “He eats like a teenager! What I would do for that metabolism!”. Some people think they can’t change it.

What if I told you, you can change it?

Metabolism is what we call the energy balance that is going on inside our bodies. It’s a process. Metabolism is the reaction to what we put into our bodies – we eat, then our food is metabolized into energy that we need to function on a daily basis.

Some people have a fast metabolism – it seems as if they burn through calories like it’s nothing. Others have a slower rate. Some of it is due to genetics, that is true. However, you can actually help support a healthy and active metabolism. Here is how:

Don’t skip meals or severely cut calories

Guess what? Our bodies are so smart. If your body senses that you are skipping meals or not providing it with enough calories, it will go into starvation mode. This means your body will start using fewer calories to perform tasks when really we want it to use more calories! Starvation mode also triggers chemical imbalances in the body by altering blood sugar and insulin levels which can definitely slow down metabolism.

If you plan on lowering your overall calorie intake in an effort to lose weight, do it slowly so it doesn’t even up working against you. Putting the body into a caloric deficit shock may have negative effects on your metabolism. Try lowering your intake by 500 calories a day to begin with.

Get Lean – Lean muscle, that is

Lean muscle mass is where it’s at. Did you know that lean muscle mass burns more calories than stored fat? Well, now you do. Lean muscles require more calories per hour and are essential for weight loss. So what are you waiting for? Pick up your weights today!

Muscle mass decreases as we age, so by strength training, you are not only aiding in your weight loss efforts, you are also helping to fight aging.

There is no magic food

We have all heard the myths about “magic metabolism foods”, right? While there are foods that have been proven to positively effect your metabolism, like green tea and chilies, it’s not enough to let you go crazy on a bag of potato chips every day. An overall healthy diet that focuses on lean protein, fruits & veggies and healthy fats is where it’s at.

Be careful with dietary supplements – and by that, I mean avoid them! As a dietitian, I would never recommend consuming any kind of supplement – that goes for Advocare, Beach Body, etc for weight loss. Did you know that Dietary Supplement Manufacturers are NOT required by the FDA to prove their products are safe OR effective? There are so many different avenues to weight loss, and this “quick fix” is not one of them.

The key to a healthy weight loss goal is to burn more calories than you take in. Weight loss occurs at different rates for all folks, but the bottom line is calories in MUST BE less than calories out. Eating a well-balanced diet of whole foods, taking carbs in moderation (complex carbs, not those simple sugars) and being physically active are a few pieces to the puzzle that is metabolism.

Just by reading this, means you are on the right track. Keep it up and as always, ask more questions!