What exactly is metabolism?

This word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days.

You know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight. But what exactly does this all mean

Technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body.  It’s how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel every action taken by your body.

Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and keep you alive.  Without this amazing biochemistry youwould not be here on this planet.

Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:

  • Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
  • Allow activities you can’t control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
  • Allow storage of excess energy for later.So, when you put all of these processes together, you can imagine that sometimes these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right.Which brings us to the “metabolic rate.”

Metabolic rate

This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!).

The calories you eat can go to one of three places:

  • Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
  • Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).
  • Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).

As you can imagine, the more calories you burn as work or creating heat the easier it is to lose weight, and keep it off, because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.

There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate. One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you’re not being physically active.

The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.

What affects your metabolic rate?

In a nutshell: a lot!

The first thing you may think of is your thyroid.  This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism.  Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is, the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn.

But that’s not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.

How big you are counts too!

Larger people have higher metabolic rates but your body composition is crucial!

As you can imagine, muscles that actively move and do work need energy. So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be: even when you’re not actively moving.

This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program: you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.

The thing is, when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down, which you don’t want to happen.  So you definitely want to offset that natural decrease with more muscle mass.

Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they’re doing “work.”

The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate.

Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food.  This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).

You can use TEF to your advantage when you understand the different ways your body metabolizes foods.

Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%.  By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.

Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow. You’ll find you will tend to lose weight and keep it off by working your muscles and feeding them what they need to optimally function and become strong: protein.

And don’t forget the mind-body connection.  There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate. Feel free to reach out to me for a free 20 minute metabolic assessment call and come away with one or two tips to set you on your way to transforming your body. You can make your request here.

I’m also including this lean protein recipe that your muscles will thank you for eating!

To your health, ease, and joy,

Carolyn

Easy Lemon Herbed Roasted Chicken Breasts

Serves: 4

Plan for some leftover sliced chicken breast for your lunch the next day! I like it chopped in a salad
Ingredients
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish or oven proof pan. Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.
  2. Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper. Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with a lid (or I will use a baking sheet as a lid for baking dishes).
  3. Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If you want the chicken to be a bit more brown on top then remove the lid and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).
 


References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/


Carolyn S. Barnes, CHC, LMT

Carolyn is an integrative health coach, speaker, Reiki Master and the author of Return to Ease: Gently Reconnect with Your Body’s Natural Mobility and Joy.

She writes and speaks from a personal place–her own journey of healing from various health issues (including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and obesity) and opening to her inner wisdom. Her mission at Return to Ease is to help women who want to reconnect with their personal power and true essence. This integrative process of reconnection allows her clients to align their hearts, minds, and bodies while creating a more sacred life filled with health, ease, and joy.

Carolyn received her coaching training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she learned about more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. She specializes in helping women who struggle with emotional/stress eating gain control and experience ease with food and their lives. As a result, her clients experience a newfound appreciation of their bodies, no longer obsess over food, and witness an amazing transformation of more ease and joy in their lives.

To learn more about Carolyn, apply to be a coaching client, order a copy of her book, or book Reiki session, please visit her website.

Leave a Reply

Rate this recipe: