What Does It Really Mean to Boost Your Metabolism?
If you’re working on losing weight, chances are you’ve seen an article mention something about boosting your metabolism. Maybe you’ve seen an advertisement for a supplement that claims to boost your metabolism.
But what does that mean, and is it even possible?
When someone refers to your metabolism, it is referring to the process of converting the food and drink you’ve consumed into energy your body can use. The speed at which your body utilizes this energy (calories) is known as your metabolic rate.
If you want to dive into the science of your metabolism, here are a few facts you should know.
You now know your metabolism is the amount of energy your body uses in a unit of time. Your basal metabolic rate is the amount of energy our body uses at rest.
Around 70% of a person’s total energy use is due to the basal life processes in your body. Another 20% comes from energy use from physical activity, while the last 10% comes from the digestion of food after eating.
Your basal metabolism consists of the functioning of all of your vital organs.
- Nervous System
- Sex Organs
When it comes down to your basal metabolism, most of your energy is consumed form maintaining fluid levels in tissues through osmosis. Only about a tenth is actually consumed for mechanical work like digestion, breathing, and your heartbeat.
Your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is influenced by several variables. These variables include your sex, body composition, and even organ weight. One study found that organ weight accounts for as much as 43% of the difference between individual BMRs.
Since muscles are part of your basal metabolic rate, the amount of muscle you have can influence your metabolic rate.
Boost Your Metabolism With These Three Tips
There are ways to boost your metabolism without supplements, without hocus pocus, but with some work.
#1 - Lift Some Weights
Remember how I said muscles were part of your basal metabolic system? Do you also remember how I said 43% of a difference was noted between organ weight of an individual’s BMR?
This is why lifting weights is important for overall health and improved metabolism.
Adding some form of resistance training to your daily and weekly habits boosts your metabolism. As you lift weights, your body repairs them and they grow. This is why the popular saying “abs are made in the kitchen” is true.
The time you spend lifting weights may not burn more calories than that same time running on a treadmill, but the metabolic benefits are hard to pass up.
Studies have proven you burn more calories even while sleeping when you have more muscle.
If you’ve never picked up a weight or stepped into the gym, don’t worry. Simply performing a two to three-day full-body workout during your week can improve your health and muscle mass.
It really doesn’t take a lot of hard work — you don’t have to have grueling workouts to achieve benefits.
#2 - Get More Sleep
Whenever my friends or coworkers boast about how little sleep they are working on, I wonder if they think they are actually proud or they are making a sad joke. If you’ve ever wanted a reason to get more sleep, here it is.
You see, when you skip out on sleep, our hormones are screwed up. It shouldn’t be a surprise that you crave more food, may overeat, and make poor health choices throughout the day when you are low on sleep.
How Sleep Affects Metabolism
Sleep deprivation causes your ghrelin to go up, while simultaneously lowering your leptin levels. Ghrelin is also known as the hunger hormone (you’ll have more cravings), and leptin is your satiety hormone (you’ll always want more).
Sleep deprivation also makes you less motivated to exercise or make healthier choices. You don’t have the energy and clarity to do so, and your hormones are telling you something completely different.
All of this eventually slows your metabolism, causes you to gain weight, and perform terribly in life.
You really, really need to prioritize sleep. You will build muscle faster, recover from workouts and perform at a higher level, and you’ll be more apt to make healthy decisions that carry on through the day.
Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep to maintain your health and keep your metabolism happy.
#3 - Try High-Intensity Interval Training
If you already do some form of cardio or physical exercise, adding a few sessions of high-intensity interval training can boost your metabolism.
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT for short, is similar to strength training with its metabolic boosting effects… but these aren’t immediately apparent.
How Does HIIT Improve Metabolism?
While it’s possible to burn more calories during a steady-state slogging along on the treadmill, HIIT does have some benefits after you are done exercising.
As you finish a true HIIT workout, your body will burn an elevated amount of calories for up to 48 hours post-workout. Your body takes more time and energy to cool down and reach homeostasis after a high-intensity exercise.
As a result, your body uses more energy to return to that resting state. It’s most commonly referred to as the afterburn effect or EPOC.
Excessive Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption
Your EPOC is a measurably increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity. It is basically an “oxygen debt” and helps attempt to quantify anaerobic energy expenditure.
In recovery, this process restores the body to a resting state and adapts itself to the exercise it just performed. This includes replenishing fuel stores, balancing your hormones, repair cells, anabolism, and innervation.
EPOC is also accompanied by an elevated consumption of calories. This is a response to exercise and the fat stores are broken down by free fatty acids and released into the bloodstream.
Wrapping It Up
Improving your basal metabolic rate takes some time, sweat, and work. That’s it.
Get more sleep, lift some weights, and try some high-intensity training to boost your metabolism.
Check out our Total Daily Energy Expenditure calculator to get an idea of how many calories you burn per day.