Our metabolism was passed on to us by our parents along with our body type. Some folks were blessed to be born with higher metabolic rates than others and these individuals don't need to work as hard to burn calories. Others of us were dealt slower metabolic rates. This doesn't mean that we throw up our hands in defeat accepting the lot we were given. It just means that we have to work a bit harder and a bit smarter to get our metabolic rate moving at a higher speed. We can change our metabolisms if we want to! If you want your body to burn more calories, then it can...if you are ready and willing to put in the work.
The largest amount of calories that your body burns each day are the calories that you use to fuel all of your basic bodily functions. These are functions like breathing, body tissue repair and maintaining a heart beat; processes that all work together to keep you alive. These calories will be burned regardless of how active or inactive you may be. Wow! That sounds fantastic! You burn the largest percentage of calories each day without having to do anything! The problem is, that for many of us, our bodies are not burning as many calories as they should be. Our metabolisms are operating too slowly. So if your metabolism needs shaking up so the pounds can start going down, doesn't it make sense that you should speed up the very process that burns the greatest percent of calories each day so that it will burn even more calories? Absolutely! Time to crank it up!
The way this is done is by adding lean muscle mass to your physique since muscle is, hands down, the biggest contributor to speeding up your metabolic rate. Muscle is more energy demanding than fat which means at rest it burns more calories then fat. Therefore, the higher your percentage of muscle compared to fat, the higher your BMR. The higher your BMR, the more calories your body burns on its own. This is why people find it more difficult to keep their weight down as they get older. As we age, we begin to lose muscle mass. Maintaining muscle mass is absolutely essential for controlling your weight and for losing fat.
To add lean muscle mass, there are two things that need to be done. First, you need to start moving. It is time to add more physical activity to your daily routine, and yes, I am going to say it: maybe you need to start #@!&*%#?* (exercising)! You need to continually challenge your muscles to grow by some type of physical activity including resistance training (pushing and pulling of weight). The added bonus of all this exercise is that it also burns calories and it speeds up our metabolism! Secondly, you need to consume the calories necessary to perform this extra activity as well as fuel and support new muscle growth. This is where many of us fall short. We do not consume enough calories to do all of this. It is what I wrote about in my last blog. When we take in too few calories, we go into starvation mode and our metabolism slows down. Then, when we try to exercise, we will not have the energy necessary to build new muscle. Instead, we will break down existing muscle in order to supply the energy needed for the exercise. This is the exact opposite of what we are trying to accomplish! Instead of building muscle that will burn calories, we are destroying it. When we do not eat enough calories, our metabolism can actually slow down by up to thirty percent!
So, to speed up your metabolism you need to:
-build lean muscle mass
-exercise (physical activity)
-consume more calories
Now comes your question of, "How do I know how many calories I should be eating?"
Good question! Each one of us has an optimal number of calories that we should be consuming each day in order to achieve the results we are looking for. This number is based on the following factors:
-your current BMR
-body fat percent
-your present daily activity level
-your desired goal (weight loss, weight gain, weight maintenance, etc.)
In order to figure out what your optimal caloric intake should be, you would do best by seeking out a professional that could do all of the calculations for you. I would be happy to work with you to help you start moving in the right direction. If you are interested in finding out more, you may leave a comment at the end of this blog or e-mail me through the contact page. I am ready to help you achieve results!
Once you begin to exercise and eat differently, your body will begin to change and so will your metabolism. This means that it will be necessary to reassess your caloric intake and your level of physical activity. As your journey progresses, so will the way you need to eat and the way you exercise. It is a journey that never ends, but that is exciting at every turn!
I hope that this has been some help to you and that you have gained some insight into healthy weight loss. From here, we will begin to look at not just how many calories you are to consume, but what those calories should be comprised of and how much, how often and when you should be consuming them. But until then...
Don't allow your metabolism to work against you. Change it, and let it work for you!