We know the magic equation of weight loss – more calories out than in. Our metabolism is how we burn calories. Provided everything else with our health and bodies are functioning correctly, this equation works. It works better when we’re younger than when we’re older, but it works nonetheless. If you are trying to lose weight, kicking your metabolism into high gear is your best bet.
How Metabolism Works
Metabolism is the process of converting food into energy and then using that energy to fuel the body’s daily activities. The metabolism is controlled by the thyroid. When the thyroid senses the body needs more energy it will trigger the metabolism to speed up. Think of it similar to how electricity works in our homes. There is always electricity running through the lines. We access that electricity by plugging something into a socket or flipping a switch. Just because a device or a lamp is off doesn’t mean electricity isn’t present. It’s simply at rest while drawing small amounts of electricity. It’s the same with our bodies. The body is always metabolizing energy sources to keep the body running. This is our resting metabolic rate, or how many calories we burn doing nothing but breathing and thinking. Same as if you turn off everything in your house, but leave them plugged in. You could go to the electricity meter and see your house is still consuming electricity. When you turn everything on, the meter picks up speed as electricity is consumed. When we exercise we are accessing our energy stores and the meter (metabolism) picks up. When there isn’t enough glucose in the blood for the body to burn, it turns to fat.
Determine Your Resting Metabolic Rate
Our metabolisms are the fastest when we are in a growing stage from infancy to about our mid-twenties. The brain alone requires about 20% of our daily caloric intake. The more active we are, the higher our resting metabolic rate (RMR). It’s important to know our RMR if we are serious about losing weight. On average, for women, we burn about 1,500 calories a day. In order to lose weight, a woman would have to either take in fewer than 1,500 calories or burn more than 1,500 per day. At age 40, for some reason, women’s metabolism begins to nose dive. It’s about the same whether or not she has ever given birth. Some experts theorize that evolutionarily speaking women are preparing for old age or death and need to slow down. Our biology hasn’t fully caught up with us living longer and healthier lives.
Other factors that impact RMR are gender, height, weight, and activity level. The best way to calculate your resting metabolic rate is in a lab with machines. But let’s face it, we’re not doing that. Here’s a quick and dirty way to determine your RMR – search the internet for an RMR calculator. There are several different methods. They all take your height, weight, and gender into account and adjust for those factors in various ways.
Boost Your Resting Metabolic Rate Through Exercise
There are two ways you can boost your metabolism – nutrition and activity. The best course of action is to use both. Let’s focus on the key activities that can give your metabolism a boost. The key is to rev up your resting metabolic rate and sustain it rather than a momentary pickup.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – this type of activity can be low or high impact depending on your ability. The key is alternate bursts of high-intensity movements with low intensity. This causes your heart and cardiovascular system to repeatedly rev versus maintaining output throughout the entire workout. It also creates an afterburn effect where your RMR will be higher for several hours after the completion of the HIIT workout.
Weight-Bearing Exercise – building muscle is the best way to raise your RMR in general. Muscle requires more energy to maintain than fat. The more muscle you have the more energy the body has to metabolize. This creates a higher RMR that can be sustained over time. For the fastest results focus on the biggest muscle groups first, the abs, glutes, quads and biceps. It takes about two or three weight-focused workouts a week to begin seeing results. You don’t even have to go to the gym. Sit-ups, squats, push ups, even lifting your kids for several reps can get the job done.
Increase your Brown Fat – yes, increasing this fat can help you lose weight. Brown fat is typically found in infants. Scientists believe its primary purpose is to make sure small babies are generating enough warmth to survive. Research has shown the small stores in adults can be increased and can trigger the body to burn “white” fat. Brown fat can be increased by exposing ourselves to temperatures at or below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. For example, a 30-minute walk outdoors in the winter a few times a week may potentially trigger the brown fat to burn more calories in an attempt to keep you warm. Don’t bundle up too tight, the idea is to shiver a little bit.
Exercise alone will not help you lose weight. You can’t outwork a bad diet. Bodies are made in the kitchen, not the gym. By raising your RMR you’re putting your body on the right path to lose weight. The key to weight loss isn’t spot-workouts, it’s creating an environment in your body that will burn more calories and use them more efficiently. Another thing, don’t dramatically increase your caloric intake to account for your output. This is often where people can mess up their results. They either get too few calories causing the body to hold on to fat or they consume too many because they overestimate how many calories they burned. Your body will tell you what the right amount is. Don’t be afraid to seek the help of a professional nutritionist if you’re able.
Before getting started on any exercise or nutrition plan, check with your doctor first. If you found this post helpful, please share, mention #BlackEVEolution, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. We know you’re looking for more great content like this. Connect with us now to receive original and informative content that will help you be healthy, wealthy, wise and woke.