Ever looked at those people who stuff themselves with whatever they want, no portion control, no calorie counting, but they are still rocking a six pack and V-line? Yet, you are left behaving like an overseer and your diet takes 0.2 seconds to fall out of place. We tend to have some negative emotions towards these people, but luckily there are some ways that you can enjoy this kind of bliss. It might not be to the same extent but at least you can add that second cheat meal into your week.
Metabolism: what is it?
Your metabolism refers to the mechanism that burns calories from food. At the base of it all there is your resting metabolic rate, which is the number of calories that you burn while sitting down, watching TV, and sleeping, so basically when your body is physically at rest. Your body needs fuel to carry out basal functions, much like a car needs petrol to operate, which it receives from the calories that are burned from the food you eat.
Your basal metabolic rate (resting) accounts for 70% of the total calories you use in a day, on average, so the number of calories your body burns increases when your metabolism increases. This translates to an increase in the amount of food you can eat while still losing/maintaining your weight, and you can eat more while on a diet, which is what we all want.
What you have to control – and what you can’t
There are some factors that you have to account for because they cannot be altered. These include; genetics, sex, age, and physique. As you age, your fat-free mass steadily declines which leads to a lowered metabolism. Your ‘build’ is another factor that you cannot change. The taller and bigger you are, the faster your metabolism will be since it needs a larger amount of energy in order to perform daily functions. Lastly, your genetics plays a significant role in determining your metabolic rate, some people are just born with a naturally fast or slow metabolism, no matter their other attributes.
This is not to say that these factors limit you, not at all. You just need to know your body so that you can work around them and reach your goals. Luckily, your muscle mass plays a large role in your metabolism, which is one thing you can definitely alter. Muscle tissue is hugely demanding when it comes to energy requirements so your body needs a much higher amount of calories to maintain muscle mass. If two people were to be compared, one with a higher amount of muscle mass than the other, there would be a big difference between the variables.
Great, but how do I enhance my metabolism then?
1. Make sure to eat enough protein
Protein directly triggers muscle growth and repair, so make sure to not only eat enough protein during the day, eat it consistently throughout the day. This is not only to keep your metabolism high but it also ensures that the protein you are eating is being digested properly, and not wasted.
The biggest problem when it comes to your metabolism is that it is spiked up and down because we consume 3 large meals instead of smaller, spaced out meals. If you are looking to lose weight, it is advantageous to keep your metabolism running high throughout the day, which you achieve through eating your meals (and protein) throughout the day. Consider eating a minimum of 25-35g of protein per meal spaced out over the day, depending on what your individual protein requirements are.
2. Use weight training more often
While cardiovascular training is a great way to increase your metabolism, there have been several studies to suggest that weight training is much more efficient, not just during training but for long after. Resistance training causes muscle tissue damage which stimulates the repair and growth of muscle tissue, and also burns a large number of calories more than cardio because of the higher physical demand on the body. The more muscle tissue we can stimulate, the more tissue will be grown and the higher our metabolism will be.
Furthermore, a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that weight training can increase our metabolic rate by up to 12% for two hours after, and by up to 9% for 15 hours after training. Make sure to include exercises that emphasise major skeletal muscle groups in your routines, with multi-joint movements as these will allow you to capitalise on the benefits of weight training.
3. Pick high-intensity exercises
Using high-intensity training methods, which is what weight training and circuit training are, has been shown to increase your oxygen consumption. This is often referred to as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC, and is increased in an attempt to replenish used up substrates during training. The elevation in EPOC increases your energy expenditure for possibly 24-48 hours, and further increases your metabolic rate.
4. Do not diet year round
When you place your body in a fasted state, or even in a small calorie deficit for a period of time, this can put your body in a preservation state because it may feel that resources are limited. This causes the body to conserve energy rather than expend it, which can decrease your metabolism and lowers the number of total calories you burn during the day.
For every week that you are on a diet, aim to spend as many weeks off your diet. Not that you need to go and eat whatever you want, you still need to eat lean, quality food. This will provide enough time for your metabolism to return to normal and increase lean muscle mass. The less time you spend in a calorie deficit, the better the impact will be on your muscle mass, and inevitably your metabolism.
These 4 small adjustments will make a big difference in raising your metabolism, which will ultimately lead to more fat being shed to expose that lean muscle.