When our main source of energy, our blood sugar (glucose), runs low, the process of metabolism turns our body fat into energy. Conversely, when our supply of blood sugar runs high, the process of metabolism stores excess energy by turning it into body fat to be used another time. Or, all too often, just left to sit there.
When we exercise, our bodies require more energy and our metabolism speeds up to supply it. But most of the time we are not very active, and this is the reason people want to raise their metabolism. They want to burn more calories 24/7, even when they are just sitting or sleeping.
Articles written on the subject of raising metabolism often suggest that an increased metabolism is more efficient because it burns more calories. This is true if your goal is to lose weight. But it is interesting to note that an increased metabolism is actually less efficient, requiring more food to maintain body weight. This goes against nature’s design for survival.
Even more important is the observation that an increased metabolism has been shown to cause premature aging. You have to ask yourself whether you are willing to have your body run like an automobile in neutral with its engine racing. The alternative, eating healthy foods in reasonable quantities and exercising on a regular basis, would seem the healthier choice.
Raising Your Metabolism
We suggest that you speak with a doctor before turning to artificial means such as drugs or herbs to raise your metabolism. And if you’re attracted to gimmicks like eating hot spices, drinking cold water, or chewing gum, you might want to speak to a therapist that specializes in eating disorders.
The following topics present ways in which your metabolism can be increased naturally through healthy living.
It is important to understand what happens when you skip a meal or go on a crash diet. When you skip a meal your metabolism slows to conserve your energy. And when you lose weight too quickly for a few days, your body thinks it is threatened with starvation and goes into survival mode. It fights to conserve your fat stores, and any weight loss comes mostly from water and muscle.
Never skip a meal, especially breakfast, and eat healthy snacks between meals. Eating frequently prevents hunger pangs and the binges that follow, provides consistent energy, and may be the single most effective way to maintain metabolism efficiency.
When you will be away from home or work, plan your snacks and take them along so that you will be able to eat regularly and won’t be tempted by junk food. This may be good advice for people who stay at home, too.
But remember that it was probably snacking between meals that caused you to become overweight in the first place. It will be very important that any snacks are healthy, that they are pre-portioned so you won’t be tempted to overeat, and that meal sizes are reduced to compensate for the additional calories the snacks provide.
Dieting or restricting your caloric intake can cause your metabolism to slow. Exercise can help to counter this effect.
And exercise is the one sure way to burn more calories safely. The improved health you will gain through regular exercise will increase your life expectancy so significantly that the benefits will far outweigh the aging effect of an increased metabolism.
At home, at the gym, playing sports, participate in both aerobic and strength building activities on a regular basis. Not only does the exercise itself increase your metabolism, but exercise — especially cardio — causes your metabolism to remain elevated for a period of time after you finish exercising. And strength building exercise builds muscle which helps to keep your metabolism elevated 24 hours a day.
Improve Your Body Composition or Percentage of Muscle vs. Fat
Generally speaking, aerobic activities like running burn more calories than strength building activities like weight lifting. But it is important to note that muscle burns calories, while fat does not. This means that the more muscular you are, the higher your metabolism will remain at all times.
If you examine the equation used to calculate RMR, you will see that metabolism decreases with age. This is largely due to the decrease in muscle mass typically experienced as people age, and can largely be countered by continuing to perform strength building activities.
While genetics will always have an effect on your appearance, through diet and exercise you can control your body composition.