Improving Your Metabolism

February 12, 2021 6 min read

Improving Your Metabolism

Often, when people think of the metabolism, we solely think of how many calories we burn in a day.  In reality, the metabolism is SO much more than burning calories, and before we dive into how you can work to improve it, we must first understand how it functions.  

What is Metabolism? 

The metabolism is in literally every cell of the body, and it is responsible for fueling all of those cells.  It is a series of chemical processes in each cell that turn calories we eat into fuel to keep us alive.  Our body will burn calories in 4 main ways: our basal metabolic rate, the digestion and break down of food (thermic effect of food), daily movement, and exercise.  Your basal metabolic rate, which is the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest, is responsible for the highest calorie burn of these ways listed.  Men’s basal metabolic rate typically ranges from 1400-2000 calories/day, while females will likely see a range between 1200-1800 calories/day.  This is the amount of calories needed for organ function, as well as fat, muscle, and digestive maintenance.  Your basal metabolic rate is mostly determined by your weight, age, height, body-fat percentage, and history of dieting.  

What Can Slow Down Metabolism? 

A lot of people think their metabolism is ‘broken’, but in reality, we can’t really break our metabolism.  Although we can do some damage to it and make it adapt to a slower place, making it harder to lose weight, harder to build muscle, and overall just not have us feeling great.  So how does this happen? 

Sadly, the more you’ve extreme dieted in the past or the higher amounts of stress you’ve put on the body, the more likely you’ve slowed down your resting metabolic rate.  This is because our metabolism is also largely controlled by the thyroid, and if the thyroid starts to feel threatened from things like high stress, under-eating calories, lack of carbohydrates, or over-training without adequate recovery, the thyroid works to conserve energy by slowing down the metabolism.  Like we mentioned, the metabolism is in control of our energy distribution, or in other words, where it puts calories for certain needs.  If the body has adequate calories, all functions can operate properly, but if the body isn’t getting calories, or more specifically, nutrients that it needs to use for fuel, then the body has to choose what is most important to distribute energy towards - the heart and brain, or digestion.  

We hope you’d choose heart and brain too, which is why when we under-feed the body, and don’t give it adequate fuel, we notice digestive stress - constipation, bloating, diarrhea or loose stool, and it can even lead to digestive disorders like IBS, Colitis, Ulcers, GERD, acid reflux, or other auto-immune conditions.  We also may notice poor sleep, overall fatigue/brain fog, getting sick more often, feeling cold all the time, etc.  The body has to manage what is necessary for life and things like digestion, great sleep quality, or raving energy aren’t really top priorities when the body is restricted in energy.  

How Do You “Speed Up” Your Metabolism?

Just like the metabolism can negatively adapt and slow down, we can also do lots of things to help it move in the opposite direction and speed it up!  

Eat More Protein

The reason protein is so helpful is because of what we touched on earlier - the thermic effect of food.  Protein simply requires far more calories, or energy, from the body to break down, digest, and absorb nutrients from it.  By consuming protein, you increase your metabolic rate by 15-20%, whereas carbohydrates only bump it by about 3-5%, and fats essentially do nothing for the metabolic rate (SOURCE). 

Protein also helps keep us more satiated and full from our meals.  One small study even demonstrated that those who ate 30% of their daily calories from protein, naturally ate 441 LESS calories in a day (SOURCE).

It also helps us maintain that muscle much better, so when you do decide to diet, protein helps keep your metabolism from slowing down!  Our recommendation is a minimum of 0.7g of protein per pound of body-weight, and that can go up to 1.0-1.2g per pound of body-weight depending on your goals and how active you are.  We get that choking down chicken at every meal can be tough, which is why we encourage a variety of foods and also why we have our CLEAN PROTEIN to help you get an easy and delicious 25g+ of protein into your day!  

Resistance Train and Lift Heavy 

It’s no secret that muscle burns faster than fat.  Meaning, the more muscle we have, the more calories we burn at rest in a day (SOURCE).  Lifting may not burn as many calories in an hour as straight cardio, but the after-burn effect and the benefit that higher amounts of muscle bring to our body far out-weigh the effects of cardio.  

It should also be noted that if you are attempting to drop body-fat by eating in a calorie deficit, lifting weights and maintaining muscle is extremely important to keep your metabolism from slowing down too much from that calorie deficit.  One particular study demonstrated this by taking about 50 women and placing them on an extreme deficit of 800 calories per day total.  One group did not exercise at all, one group did aerobic exercise only, and one group did resistance training.  The group that resistance trained maintained their muscle, metabolism, and strength!  The other groups lost weight, but mainly lost muscle and saw a decrease in metabolism (SOURCE).

Improve Your Sleep 

Sleep deprivation does a number on our metabolism.  Not only does inadequate sleep (less than 6 hours), or poor quality of sleep slow down our metabolic rate, it also increases blood sugar responses, drives insulin resistance, and increases our hunger hormones - making us even hungrier than we should be (SOURCE). 

When you get a poor night’s sleep, the body is working to conserve energy because of the additional stress poor sleep places on the system.  Some studies even show that less than 6 hours of sleep reduces our daily calorie burn by up to 300 calories/day!  That can make quite an impact when you’re trying to lose weight or stay fit.  If you’re struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, consider looking into an all natural sleep supplement to help you; like our SLEEP which is all-natural and formulated to help you sleep well, and wake up refreshed - not groggy like most over the counter sleep aids.  

Eat Adequate Calories and Nourishment 

This is the most under appreciated aspect of supporting our metabolism. Of all of the things that have been researched on the topic, crash dieting and extreme calorie restrictions are at the TOP of the list in what causes the biggest impact on metabolism and slowing it down. Additionally, cutting carbs has been shown to slow down metabolism.  Obviously utilizing healthy, nutrient dense carbohydrate sources is important, and removing processed forms can help weight management, but when we remove them entirely, our body doesn’t produce insulin as well.  Without adequate insulin, our metabolism will ultimately slow down and burn less.  

One study in particular showed that a group of women were told to consume 900 calories per day.  After 3 months, their total daily energy expenditure, how many calories they burned in a day, dropped by over 600 calories PER day.  The worst part, even after increasing calories for the next 5 weeks, their resting metabolic rate remained much lower than before they even started the diet.  

If you aren’t sure how much to eat, start tracking your food in an app like MyFitnessPal and see how much you’re currently eating to get a baseline.  We then recommend utilizing something like a TDEE online calculator to be able to see how much your body actually needs to maintain.  Slowly close the gap between the two, especially if you have been under-eating for a long time!  And if you’re really unsure or nervous to take this step, hire someone to help!  

A lot of people think that our metabolism is something we’re just born with and it won't ever change.  And sure, some people are blessed with a great, efficient metabolism it seems, but a lot of it has to do with things we can control as well!   Making sure we’re eating enough protein, enough calories, sleeping and recovering properly, and moving our body can all positively impact how our body works for us.  

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