We hear a lot about “firing up your metabolism” or “boosting your metabolism”, but how much do you really know about the metabolism? Is it a specific organ or internal function, or what is it actually? Let’s get into what the metabolism is, what it does, and what we can do to improve it:
What is the Metabolism?
Your metabolism is the internal components that burn energy every day. All of your bodily functions burn energy to some extent, meaning your metabolism is affected by just about everything you do. However, there are three primary factors that make up your metabolism.
Factor #1: BMR
Your Basal Metabolic Rate is the calorie consumption that keeps your body alive. So your heart pumping, brain working, stomach digesting, and lungs expanding are all part of your BMR. Roughly 70% of your metabolism is BMR because that’s how much energy it takes to keep your body alive every day.
Factor #2: Exercise
Every time you exercise, you burn energy. Your metabolism burns through roughly 10% of your daily calories when you work out, because it takes a lot of energy to power your muscles or keep up with an increased heart rate.
Factor #3: NEAT
Non-exercise adaptive thermosgenesis, or NEAT, is the calories that your body burns when you are moving but not exercising. For example, you burn calories when you sneeze, cough, shiver, laugh, or fidget. All of these account for about 20% of your daily calorie consumption.
Raising Your BMR is the Key
You could do more exercise every day to increase calorie burning, but the day you stop exercising is the day you back to your original calorie consumption. The key to boosting your metabolism effectively—for real, long-term effects—is to increase your Basal Metabolic Rate. The best way to do that is to consume foods that take more energy to absorb and use. For example, high protein intake raises your metabolism because protein takes more energy to break down and digest than carbs and fats. Fiber-rich foods also require more energy to digest and eliminate. Maintaining a healthy balance of micro and macronutrients is a good way to make sure you’re getting enough of the metabolism-boosting foods your body needs.
A lot of people make the mistake of drastically reducing calorie intake in order to improve their chances of weight loss. After all, they reason, if they start eating less than their body consumes every day, they’ll force their metabolism to burn more fat. The downside of cutting back on food is that it can lower your BMR, which means you’ll end up burning FEWER calories every day. No matter how much exercise you do, you’ll still end up gaining weight because your BMR is too low to process all the food you’re eating.
Maximum Intensity, Maximum BMR
Exercise is just as important as diet when it comes to weight loss and fat burning. Doing high-intensity exercise burns through a lot of energy at once, and it does wonders to raise your BMR throughout the day. Muscle-building exercises will also contribute to a higher BMR because your body will naturally burn more calories because it takes more energy to move a muscle-bound body. An increase in lean mass is an excellent way to get your BMR up, which means more effective calorie-burning every day. Ultimately, you’ll see more effective weight loss and a faster metabolism overall as a result of your increased-intensity exercise and greater lean muscle mass. Definitely a good reason to kick your workouts up a notch!