Have you ever heard someone tell a story something like this?
“I always had a fast metabolism when I was younger. I could eat whatever I wanted, and I never had to worry about gaining weight. Then, when I turned 25, it was like someone flipped a switch—my metabolism slowed down, and now I always have to watch my weight!”
While it is true that the average American’s metabolism slows by 5-10% per decade of adult life, it doesn’t mean that it is inevitable or irreversible. I am sure that you have heard many different things about how to increase your metabolism: everything from making better choices in your diet to drinking your water as cold as you can so that your body has to heat the water to body temperature before it can use it to hydrate body tissues. And while there are several things that you can do to improve you daily caloric burn, there is one thing that is fundamentally true:
If you want to increase the number of calories that you burn on a daily basis, you must increase your body’s overall demand for calories.
Your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR, is the number of calories that an individual burns at rest. People who want to lose weight deliberately try to increase their BMR, so that even while they are doing nothing- even while sleeping– they are burning more calories. And for those who aren’t interested in losing weight, a higher BMR means that they are less likely to gain extra weight.
So how do you increase your body’s caloric burn? Well, this is actually a multi-dimensional question, but we can simplify this into two parts: Metabolic Inflation and Metabolic Increase.
Metabolic Inflation is when you go out one day and decide to run a mile- or do some aerobics- or simply take the stairs instead of the elevator. Now, instead of resting, you are doing something active, and your body’s caloric demand just went up. So it is no revelation that if you are doing something active, you will burn more calories than if you are resting. But while moving your body more does inflate your metabolism, it doesn’t necessarily increase your BMR. So if tomorrow you decide to remain inactive, you will burn the same number of calories while resting as you would any other day.
Metabolic Increase on the other hand, requires that your body’s need for calories is higher even while you are resting. The good news is, you can directly change this! For every pound of muscle that you add to your body, you increase your caloric demand because you now have to continue to fuel this muscle.
So, what is the key ingredient to a faster metabolism? Muscle Mass! And before all you ladies start rolling your eyes, that doesn’t mean that you are going to “bulk up” or “look manly.” But I think every woman will agree that a little muscle tone is sexy. In fact, the two main reasons why clients come to see me at Fitness Together in Trussville are “to lose weight and tone up.” The problem is, there is a big difference between slim and toned and “fat skinny”- you know, the kind of person who has a small frame, but jiggles with every step they take.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make once they decide to lose weight is to lose any weight they can. The problem with only focusing on losing weight on the scale is that you can actually begin to burn your body’s muscle mass for energy. This becomes counter-productive long term because you are actually slowing your metabolism in the process making it nearly impossible to keep the weight off.
So get off the couch, and start building some muscle! It will help you keep the weight off, and you’ll look better than you have in years!
Not sure how? Give me a call. I’d love to help! (205)661-3260