What is metabolism anyway? You’ve heard the word but what does it really mean?

Lisa Austin Blogs, Most Recent, Nutrition Related

The broad definition of metabolism by Matt Stone is:

“The sum of all physiological events that take place in the body that turn food, water, air, vitamins, minerals, and more into what we know as life.”

So, metabolism is pretty darn important!

Calories are energy and the rate at which your body consumes energy is indeed your metabolism.  A few indicators of a high metabolism are:

  • High body temperature
  • Moderate to high resting pulse rate
  • Lots of physical energy/fidgeting
  • High respiratory rate

A high metabolism is everything we associate with young people – healthy, lean, energetic, sound sleeping, fast healing. At the other end are the elderly – low body temperature, little rest, very low energy; and, most importantly, at much higher risk for degenerative diseases.

It’s important to know that we can slow that decline and improve our metabolic rate for better overall health to avoid everyday types of problems such as insomnia, mood problems, cold hands and feet, frequent urination, and low energy.

How do we do this?

To have an increased or higher metabolism means that we have an increase in our internal body temperature (at least 98.5). By doing this, we burn more calories at rest – doing nothing but exist, like breathing. At this temperature, our body functions optimally.

  • We reduce the risk of common diseases and health conditions.
  • We increase our hormones like progesterone and testosterone.
  • Our thyroid functions better.
  • Digestion works smoothly and consistently.
  • We have better absorption of nutrients.
  • We experience increased energy, better sleep and less stress.

In order to increase our metabolism, we need to be able to give our body something to do.

Here are 9 ways to help your metabolism:

  1. Give yourself a balance of Omega 6’s and 3’s – ideally a ratio of 1:1. A balance of healthy fats is going to increase cell function so that you are better able to absorb the nutrients that are feeding your body.
  2. Make sure your diet offers a variety of nutrients for various vitamins and phytonutrients to support health and digestion.
  3. Don’t eliminate carbohydrates and cholesterol. These food groups are needed for energy, brain function and fiber.
  4. Contrary to what most people believe, slow and steady cardio will actually lower your metabolism. The more you train, the more efficient your body is going to be at creating and using energy and that’s not necessarily a good thing. You want to ‘increase’ your metabolism. The exception: If your goal is to be a marathon runner then, yes, that’s exactly what you want, a lower metabolism to burn less calories, use less energy so that you can go longer distances.
  5. Understand your thyroid. Thyroid conditions lower your body temperature. A lower body temperature will lower your energy. Low energy makes it harder to burn calories and harder to digest food.
  6. Eat enough whole foods – a balance of fats, healthy carbs, including starches, vegetables and fruit, along with lean proteins.
  7. Get moving! Exercise and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) are good ways of getting your heart rate up. Make sure your workouts are intense enough to keep your body from becoming too accustomed to an activity. My intense is going to be different than another person’s intense workouts. The idea is, you want to push yourself to the point of having trouble breathing or catching your breath, rest long enough so you are breathing normally and then start the exercise again. Begin with five minutes and work your way up to 10 to 15 minutes for the workout. Do that once or twice a week to begin and work up to three times a week.
  8. Keep in mind, and most people will overlook this, that you must rest and recover! The rest and recovery period will help you balance your leptin and cortisol levels, you will have better sleep, and appetite control.
  9. The last thing I’m going to add is to make sure you are paying attention to your body. You can easily be doing everything right and still have a slow and sluggish metabolism. Pay attention to how your body feels, how it reacts and how well your digestive system is “moving”. What are your energy levels like? What are your cravings like? Are the pipes running smoothly? 😉

No one wants to talk about this last point but if your digestion is off and getting slow and sluggish you will find your energy levels will dip. Your digestive system needs to run smoothly and you need to have a bowel movement at least daily. If you aren’t, you need to make sure that you are eating enough fiber and carbohydrates to start with.

If you have taken care of all of the above points and you are still finding you have a slow and sluggish metabolism, it’s worth seeking medical advice for further exploration. There could be some other underlying problem that is keeping your system from working optimally.

I can’t stress this enough, make sure you are paying attention to All the aspects.  

  • Are you sleeping enough?
  • Are you exercising enough?
  • Are you eating enough?

These 3 key areas play a huge factor in what your metabolism rate is going to be. If you overlook one of these key areas you will have slow and sluggish metabolism.

Learn to pay attention to your body and your body will reward you with a healthy high functioning metabolism.

Remember, to increase your metabolism, you need to make sure that:

  • You’re feeding your body the nutrients that it needs.
  • You’re exercising your body and putting controlled short bouts of stress on it.
  • You’re resting and recovering – your body needs time to heal.

If you have been damaging your metabolism for years with dieting, don’t expect your metabolism to instantly recover, it’s going to take time for it to heal. Nurture it and follow the steps above to help it recover and heal.

I hope you found these tips helpful, I invite you to come to my Facebook group, Simply Getting Fit. This is where I share all sorts of different tips and tricks to help you along your health and fitness journey.