At some point, we’ve all envied the young athlete that seems to eat and drink whatever they want and still carry around a carved mid section. Do they know something we don’t? Perhaps. But the answer to their chiselled frame is likely a fast metabolism. Oh yes, it is faster in youth and has a tendency to slow down with age! But rest assured our curious friend, there are solutions to this concern.
Let’s start with looking at what metabolism actually is. Metabolism refers to the complex set of chemical reactions that occur within living organisms to maintain life. These biochemical processes are essential for various functions in the body, including:
- Energy Production: Metabolism helps convert the food and nutrients we consume into energy. This energy is required for all cellular activities, such as muscle contraction, cell division, and maintaining body temperature. Can you see how having a slow metabolism could lead to fatigue?
- Anabolism: This is the process by which cells build complex molecules from simpler ones. For example, the synthesis of proteins, nucleic acids, and other macromolecules is an anabolic process. Can you see why “younger people” with faster metabolisms seem to get the muscle gains “more easily?”
- Catabolism: Catabolism is the opposite of anabolism. It involves the breakdown of complex molecules into simpler ones. For instance, the digestion of carbohydrates into glucose or the breakdown of fats into fatty acids and glycerol are catabolic processes.
- Detoxification: Metabolism helps the body eliminate harmful substances and toxins, often by converting them into less toxic forms that can be excreted.
- Maintenance of Cellular Structures: Metabolism is responsible for repairing and replacing damaged or worn-out cellular components, ensuring the proper functioning of cells. Hint – a better metabolism equals a slower ageing process.
- Regulation of Enzymes: Enzymes play a crucial role in metabolism by catalysing various chemical reactions. Metabolism helps regulate the production and activity of these enzymes.
The rate at which an individual’s body carries out these metabolic processes is often referred to as their metabolic rate, which can vary from person to person. Factors like age, gender, body composition, and activity level can influence an individual’s metabolic rate. And so we can start to see why understanding metabolism is crucial for managing weight, energy balance, and overall health.
So, let’s get to the real reason why you clicked on this link. What can we do to increase our metabolic rate? Here are a few starting points.
- Build Lean Muscle Mass: Resistance training or strength training exercises can help us to build lean muscle mass. Muscle tissue burns more calories at rest compared to fat tissue, so increasing our muscle mass can help raise our basal metabolic rate (BMR).
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT workouts involve short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief periods of rest or lower-intensity activity. This type of exercise can increase our metabolic rate both during and after the workout, known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) or “the afterburn effect.”
- Get Enough Deep Sleep: Poor sleep can negatively impact metabolism. Aiming for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night can definitely support healthy metabolic function.
- Eat Protein-Rich Foods: Protein has a higher thermic effect of food (TEF) compared to fats and carbohydrates, meaning our bodies burn more calories digesting and metabolising protein. Including protein in all of our meals can help increase our metabolism.
- Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can slow down our metabolism. Drinking enough water throughout the day to ensure we’re adequately hydrated can support metabolic processes.
- Stay Active Throughout the Day: Incorporating physical activity into our daily routine beyond structured workouts is a great way to keep our metabolism up. Simple activities like taking the stairs, walking instead of driving for short trips, and standing rather than sitting for prolonged periods can help keep our metabolism active throughout the day.
- Stay Consistent with Meal Timing: Eating at regular intervals and avoiding long periods without food can help maintain a steady metabolic rate. Irregular eating patterns may lead to metabolic slowdown.
- Stay Stress-Free: Chronic stress can lead to hormonal changes that may negatively damage the metabolic capacity of our cells. More of the stress hormone cortisol throughout the day leads to higher blood glocuse levels, which then leads to increased inflammation and reduced metabolism. Practising stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises can help mitigate these effects.
We hope this gives you a bit of clarity on some of the basics. Feel free to let us know on our social media how this is working out for you!
As always, if you have any concerns or if it’s been a while since exercising, please consult with your registered health professional.
Destiny Health, ‘Goals Make Destiny.’