Whether you’re a man or woman, one morning you may wake up and think, “Where did my metabolism go?” Has the fire gone out? Is it even possible to get the smoldering ashes to burn again? or is it an inevitable part of aging?
I recently had that conversation with myself.
It seems it is easier to gain weight as I age. Even eating less and less, it is harder to maintain weight. Energy gets lower too. You’re getting older, if you’re a woman you have hormonal changes as well.
Have you experienced this? The weight slowly and quietly clings to your tummy and butt. How’d that happen? Must be my metabolism. Poor metabolism…takes the blame from so many people.
Is there anything I can do to stoke the flame of my metabolism? This there a way to boost my energy? I want to be able to eat more without packing on pounds. I want my body to function better and have more energy. Metabolism affects ALL functions of the body.
Weight is not the only issue associated with a withering metabolism. How about these issues? Do you struggle with any of them?
- dry skin
- feeling cold
- hard time losing weight
- hair loss
- lack of concentration
- trouble sleeping
- and more…
These issues and others could also be caused by a stunted metabolism.
What is a Metabolism?
Most would say, “Its what causes you to gain or lose weight.” Well, It’s much more than that.
Unfortunately, we need to go back to biology class. See? Don’t you wish you paid attention when you were there? I didn’t care then… I care now. Now that you actually care about your metabolism as well, let’s relearn this stuff.
A definition of metabolism is
“The chemical processes inside living cells that are necessary for the maintenance of life.”
Your metabolism takes place in every cell in your body. Inside of your cells are mitochondria, the little powerhouses that turn your calories into energy.
Metabolism covers both the breakdown and build up processes of the body. Those are referred to as
–Anabolic process – the build up of new cells and tissue, storing of energy for future use as well as building muscle.
–Catabolic process– the breakdown of molecules to release energy to provide fuel for anabolism, heating the body, moving, processes such as digestion, removal of waste products, etc.
An example anabolic and catabolic processes would be the breakdown and build up of bones and the breakdown and build up of muscle.
Metabolism is how your body gets the energy it needs to function from the food you eat.
Unfortunately, free radicals damage your mitochondria, causing them to be less efficient and shrink in number, resulting in a slower metabolism. On the flip side, proper nutrition feeds your mitochondria. more on free radicals
When you eat plants and animals that have eaten plants, your body breaks down the fuel into aminio acids, fatty acids and simple sugars. It is then distributed to and used by cells as fuel or stored in body tissues.
The fact is, there is still much scientists don’t understand about metabolism. There is even some disagreement over whether you can change it or if you’re stuck with it. It’s not really a black and white issue. Let’s err on the side of doing what we can and see how the body reacts. Everyone is different. Just because one body reacts one way doesn’t mean all bodies will. We were each created unique.
What Can Effect Your Metabolism?
The following may effect your metabolism…
- Aging– After age 30 people lose 5-10 pounds of muscle each decade, they also move less causing them to gain weight. After age 20, their BMR starts to decrease by 2 percent each decade.
- Gender– Woman have slower metabolisms than men, because men are generally bigger and have more muscle.
- Body composition– muscle vs. fat
- Weight– Smaller, lighter people have slower metabolisms than larger, heavier people
- Activity level– Moving less The importance of physical activity.
- Health– Issues like thyroid and diabetes
- Medication– Some slow down your metabolism
- Nutrition– Poor nutrition can hamper mitochondria function
- Dieting– Causes you to lose muscle. Calorie restriction stunts your metabolism and affects other bodily systems as well, such as bone health. There’s only so much energy to go around. If you don’t give your body enough energy, something will suffer.
- Hormonal changes– Including menopause, cortisol, insulin and testosterone
- Menopause– A notorious scapegoat, but it really only makes a difference of a few calories a day (~30-50)
- Lack of Sleep– Why does sleep matter?
- Genetics– Taller people with larger bones and organs have a higher metabolism than shorter more compact people.
Types of Metabolism
Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) – Your genetic make-up. 5% of your total calories. You can’t change this much.
Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)- Also known as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the energy needed to keep you alive. This energy keeps your body, heart, digestion, breathing, thinking, growing, healing all working without you doing anything else. This only counts your resting calories, like if you were asleep. This accounts for 60-75% of your calories burned. You need to increase this. When your BMR goes up or down your metabolism will speed up or slow down. Don’t eat less calories than your BMR! There are many online BMR calculators to help you determine yours.
The Thermic effect of Feeding– Eating (digestion)- chewing, swallowing, moving food through digestive tract, etc. This accounts for 5-15% of total calories burned. Metabolism speeds up to digest food. Hard to digest food takes more energy.
Physical Activity Level (PAL)- Calories burned while exercising and moving. Any muscle movement no matter how small (finger, leg, chewing, etc) 15-30% of total, regardless of exercise.
Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)- This includes all calorie burning opportunities. BMR+NEAT+PAL=TDEE
Your body burns fuel only when it needs energy. How do we create a need for energy?
1. Exercise! Strength train and cardio.
2. Afterburn– Also known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). The first hour or two after exercise your body continues to burn more calories. This lasts longer with strength training than it does with cardio. This is caused by the energy required after exercise to repair your muscles and recover.
3. During Repair– A sick or damaged body requires more energy to repair itself. This also includes the repair of healthy muscle damage.
4. Eating hard to digest food– Protein, for example, requires more energy to digest than carbs and fat. 25%-30% of the calories are burned just digesting it, whereas only about 10% of calories are burned digesting carbs and even less for fats.
5. Build more muscle– The breakdown and build up of muscle uses food energy to make more muscle. 1 pound of extra muscle burns an extra 50 calories when you’re not doing anything. The more you have, the more it uses. More muscle will also enable you to workout harder, which in turn will burn more calories. This is especially true when compared to someone who sits around all day. Also consider this, for each pound of muscle lost you reduce your calorie burn by 50ish calories. More reasons it is important to maintain your muscles.
6. Without weight training, your body will breakdown and use your muscle when in a prolonged calorie deficit. Using weights regularly will help maintain those muscles. Without it you will just end up with a smaller, but weaker you.
What Do I Do With This?
🔥Eat more. You’ll have more fuel and you body won’t fear starvation. When it does that it cuts down your BMR in an effort to conserve energy.
🔥Some foods contribute to weight gain and fat storage and some contribute to muscle gain and metabolism boosts. Use foods that support muscle growth. One such food is protein.
🔥Have protein at every meal. Especially if you are older. Aging people have a greater need for protein because they are losing muscle at a rapid pace. Learn more about protein.
🔥Eat better food. Focus on lean protein (animal or plant protein) and veggies. Make sure you get enough veggies to balance the protein and add fiber. Veggies also have antioxidants that fight free radicals that damage your mitochondria which in turn slows your metabolism. Include healthy fats.
🔥Eat every few hours, don’t skip meals. Eating stimulates your metabolism.
🔥Eat fiberous carbs anytime. Eat starchy carbs after exercise for extra fuel.
🔥Eat food with a high thermic effect. This means the food raises your metabolism in order to digest it. Protein is one example. Others are coffee, green tea and spicy foods. These however, have only a slight effect, not enough really to make a difference. Hey, but every little bit helps.
🔥Drinking 500ml of water raises your resting rate by 30% for about an hour. How easy is that?
🔥Calories should be added gradually. Increase them a little at time and then give your body time to adjust, maybe a week or so. I have been adding about 50 calories at a time.
🚴🏻Get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.
🚴🏻As people age, their activity level goes down, causing them to lose muscle. This causes them to eat less as well as gain fat. This is referred to as “skinny fat”. Thin and flabby with no real muscle tone.
💪When your body conserves energy due to a lack of calories, it will also burn less calories during a workout.
💪Make sure you do strength training. Doing only cardio may cause you to burn more calories while doing it and shortly after, but it will also cause you to lose muscle. You don’t want that! Muscle is what speeds up your metabolism.
🚴🏻Cardio does have it’s place though. Interval training is an effective form of cardio to trigger afterburn.
💪After strength training, eat plenty of protein to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. This enables your muscles to grow through repair of damaged tissue. I will be sharing more about this in an upcoming post.
💪Strength train about 3x a week. It needs to be challenging enough to build muscle. Otherwise, you will be wasting your time and it will have little effect.
Remember, this is not a sprint. It should become a lifestyle. Consider where you want to be 10 or 25 years from now, Lord willing.
I’ve have been engaging in these changes for only a few weeks so far and have already seem some improvement. Join me!
- What do you do to boost your metabolism?
- What was a waste of time and what was successful?
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23