Is your slow metabolism causing you to gain weight?
Despite everyone from your colleague to best friend swears their slow metabolism being the root of all their weight problems, metabolism is rarely the cause of excess weight gain.
You may not want to hear it, but your weight gain (and theirs) is most likely due to stress, bad eating habits and/or inactive lifestyle. But what metabolism can influence is your weight loss.
There is truth to faster metabolism speeding up your weight loss and slow metabolism slowing it down.
In all honestly, there are some who are genetically blessed with fast metabolism and rarely struggle with weight.
They are often categorized as ectomorphs.
On the other side of spectrum, there are endomorphs with slow metabolism. Somewhere in between mesomorphs.
It may look as your fate is determined, but if you truly uncover what affects your metabolism (other than your body type), there are certainly actionable steps you can take to fasten your metabolism and speed up your weight loss.
To illustrate what this means and what you need to do to boost your metabolism, we created an infographic that lays out every step.
Before jumping into the action plan, let’s cover the basics.
Metabolism is responsible for converting the food we eat into energy and then distributing it among all of our bodily systems.
Put it simply, when your metabolism works the way is supposed to, your body burns more calories.
In other words, boosting your metabolism is about getting your body to use more energy.
There are three ways your body uses energy and burns calories.
- By performing “hidden" bodily functions such as breathing, repairing cells and circulating blood
- By processing food
- By performing physical activities
According to Mayo Clinic, your bodily functions account for 70% of the calories you burn every day, and the number of calories your body uses to carry out it’s basic tasks is known as basal metabolic rate or resting metabolic rate.
When you rev up your resting metabolic rate, you transform your body into “skinny type” and turn your body into a fat burning furnace.
There are several factors that dictate your individual basal metabolic rate:
No.1: Genetics & body types
According to William H. Sheldom, PHD, MD who developed a theory of somatotypes: there are three body types with different body composition:
Ectomorph has the fastest metabolism, endomorph has the slowest, and mesomorph has an efficient one.
Body type with more muscle tone burns more calories than a type with less muscles.
Compared to men, women have less muscle mass and more fat, burning less calories than men.
We tend to lose muscle tone as we age, aging is often linked to declining metabolism.
This can be avoided by building and maintaining lean muscle mass.
In addition to basic bodily functions, there are two additional ways your body can burn calories:
- Food processing
Digesting, processing and transporting food takes energy and can burn anywhere from 100 to 800 calories a day.
However, not all foods break down and use energy equally.
For instance, It takes about twice as many calories to break down protein as fats and carbohydrates.
Eating foods that support metabolism can fasten your metabolism and speed up your weight loss.
Physical activity and exercise of any kind also burns calories.
Anything from doing chores to aerobic activities such as walking up the stairs and going for a run can burn additional calories.
Physical exercise is by far the most variable of the factors that determine how many calories you burn each day.
Althoug more intense exercise can actually elevate your resting metabolic rate for up to 48 hours post workout this is refer as exercise oxygen consumption or the afterburn effect.
Overall, there are three simple steps to a faster metabolism:
- Gain lean muscle mass
- Get plenty of rest
- Eat a proper diet
lean Muscle Mass
Muscle is made up of metabolically active tissue, which requires high amounts of energy in order to build and maintain.
Even while at rest, muscle requires a high energy expenditure to help it maintain itself.
This means the body will automatically burn more calories when at rest and performing any activity when muscle tissue outweighs fatty tissue.
Fatty tissue requires little to no energy to maintain and does not enhance the calorie burning process.
Having more fatty tissue than muscle tissue can actually cause the metabolism to slow down and stall the weight loss process.
There are several ways in which to gain lean muscle.
Weight training is the most well-known and fastest way to build lean muscle. However, high intensity cardio exercise can also help to build muscle and can burn excess calories in the process.
A study conducted at the University of Chicago Medical Center showed that individuals who suffer from sleep deprivation have irregular insulin production and higher levels of the hormone cortisol than those who got sufficient sleep each night.
Irregular insulin production and high levels of cortisol are both proven to slow down the metabolism, hinder the weight loss process and can even cause weight gain.
Getting 6 to 8 hours of good quality sleep per night and practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation helps to keep blood sugar levels stable and stress levels to a minimum.
Certain foods have been proven to enhance the metabolism’s function and aid weight loss.
A few of the most well-known are:
Green tea contains a component called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which is known to speed up the metabolism and enhance weight loss.
We have already discussed how lean muscle increases the metabolism’s calorie burning qualities. Protein is necessary in order to build and sustain lean muscle.
The USDA suggests individuals over the age of 18 consume 0.37 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.
Studies have shown that individuals who have a higher than normal level of a hormone called leptin have slower metabolisms than those who have normal levels.
The oils found in salmon help to reduce leptin levels and can help the metabolism burn at a more efficient level.
A study conducted by researchers at Beloit College showed because of its high levels of oleic acid, olive oil can help increase the metabolism and burn fat by hindering the absorption of fat from the bloodstream.
Because the body can rapidly burn and utilize the energy obtained from olive oil, it provides the metabolism with a boost.
Researchers at the Franz-Volhard Clinical Research Center discovered that overweight individuals who drank approximately 17 ounces of water had a 30 percent increase in metabolism function for several hours.
Although they cannot determine the exact cause, they believe it could be due to the energy the body expends heating the water to a temperature at which it can be properly assimilated.
Sources: The Joint/The Chiropractic Place, Comparison of Predictive Equations for Resting Metabolic Rate in Healthy Non-obese and Obese Adults: A Systematic Review, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, University of Chicago Medical Center, USDA, Beloit College Franz-Volhard Clinical Research Center