What is metabolism and how to speed it up

What is metabolism and how does it affect weight and health indicators? Experts believe that 80% of success depends on lifestyle.

Working with the experts to figure out how to expend more calories effortlessly.

  • What is it
  • What affects
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Accelerated
  • Delayed
  • How to speed up
  • Expert comments

Material commented:

  • Natalya Antonova, endocrinologist, nutritionist, “CM-Clinic “;
  • Maria Volchenkova, nutritionist at Best Doctor, clinical psychologist, member of the Russian Union of Nutritionists, Nutritionists and Food Industry Specialists, an expert in working with DNA tests

What is metabolism

Metabolism is a process, the main indicator of which is the metabolic rate. It supports the work of all internal organs. The concept includes all the vital chemical functions of the body: respiration, cell repair, and food digestion. These processes require energy, the minimum amount of which is called the base metabolic rate, or metabolic rate (BMR). It can account for up to 80% of the daily energy requirement, depending on age and lifestyle. Metabolism includes two concepts:

  • Anabolism is the accumulation of energy reserves in the body.
  • Catabolism is their breakdown.

There are many online calculators available to help you calculate your daily energy requirement. For example, take a look at the Harris-Benedict equation:

Basic (basal) metabolism in women:

  • BMR = 655.0955 + (9.5634 * weight in kg) + (1.8496 * height in cm) – (4.6756 * age in years).

Basal metabolism in men:

  • BMR = 66.4730 + (13.7516 * weight in kg) + (5.0033 * height in cm) – (6.7550 * age in years).

Now the resulting value must be multiplied by a factor depending on physical activity:

  • sedentary lifestyle – 1.2;
  • moderate activity (light physical activity or classes 1-3 times a week) – 1.375;
  • average activity (classes 3-5 times a week) – 1.55;
  • active people (intensive loads, classes 6-7 times a week) – 1.725;
  • athletes and people performing similar loads (6-7 times a week) – 1.9.

For example, if you are a 30-year-old woman, 170 cm tall and weighing 65 kg, who spends most of the time sitting at the computer, the calculation will be as follows:

  • BMR = 655.0955 + (9.5634 * 65) + (1.8496 * 170) – (4.6756 * 30) = 1450.9
  • 1450.9 * 1.2 = 1741 kcal / day.

The final figure shows the daily calorie content that should be adhered to.

Maria Volchenkova, nutritionist:

“Thermal effect of food (TEF) can also be added to this formula, usually it is 10%, which adds to the metabolism. BMR + TEF (10% of basal metabolic rate) * factor of physical activity. “

What does metabolism affect?

Often people who are struggling to maintain their weight blame a slow metabolism for this. In fact, there is little evidence that it can be considered the main barrier to a slender figure. Studies show that overweight people metabolize faster than lean people . They need more energy to perform basic bodily functions. More often than not, you gain weight, not because of slow metabolism, but because you consume more calories than you spend.

Photo: Taylor Kiser / Unsplash

Only in rare cases does weight gain occur due to medical problems that slow metabolism, such as Cushing’s syndrome or an underactive thyroid gland – hypothyroidism. In this case, the metabolic rate is directly related to the normalization of weight. The more calories burned, the less fat is stored in the body. In conditions of their deficiency, the process of losing weight occurs, fat (lipid) metabolism is accelerated. Metabolism is also taken into account when gaining mass. In each case, it is important to disassemble the individual characteristics of the body and draw up a suitable nutrition and training plan.

What is metabolic disorder

The rate in each case will differ. The doctor can diagnose violations of protein, fat, carbohydrate, mineral and water metabolism . The most common reasons for deviations from optimal metabolism are:

  • violation of the rules of a balanced diet ;
  • lack of physical activity;
  • hereditary factors;
  • lack of water ;
  • intoxication, poisoning;
  • a reaction to certain medications;
  • endocrine diseases.

Metabolic disorders are expressed in the following symptoms:

  • deterioration of the condition of the skin, hair and nails;
  • excessive sweating;
  • overweight problems;
  • severe swelling ;
  • sleep disturbance;
  • dental disease;
  • reduced performance.

When making a diagnosis, the doctor takes into account the results of tests and examinations. Common signs of metabolic disorders are high levels of triglycerides and blood sugar, low levels of “good” cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Accelerated metabolism

People with an accelerated metabolism burn calories faster than those with a slower metabolism. They usually need a high-calorie diet to maintain their weight. For comparison: people with slow metabolism find it more difficult to lose weight – they need to increase physical activity .

Some of the most common signs of a fast metabolism are:

  • problems with weight gain;
  • anemia;
  • hyperactivity;
  • high heart rate;
  • increased body temperature , even at rest;
  • a good appetite;
  • low percentage of body fat.

Ectomorphs are people with a high metabolic rate, naturally slender, having difficulty gaining weight and building muscle. Metabolic rate is influenced by various factors, but mainly genetics, physical activity, gender and age. The muscles of the body are of great importance: compared to fat cells, they require more energy to maintain vital functions.

The best way to determine why you have an accelerated metabolism and whether you need to take any action to normalize it is by consulting your doctor. The specialist will help determine how normal this is in your case, whether it is a side effect of the disease and whether it is worth changing something.

Photo: rawpixel / Unsplash

Slow metabolism

Many factors affect the slowdown of metabolism:

  • chronic stress;
  • lack of trace elements, especially iron;
  • unbalanced, irregular diet;
  • substandard products;
  • lack of a daily routine, late waking up and going to bed.

Metabolism slows down when there are not enough calories in the diet, which is why it is often encountered by those who adhere to strict restrictive diets. This can lead to decreased performance, energy levels, and decreased thyroid hormone production. When the metabolism slows down, muscle atrophy and the growth of body fat develop. A doctor should diagnose this condition. For example, for endomorphs, a reduced metabolism and a tendency to gain weight are a kind of norm.

What can speed up your metabolism

Some studies confirm that metabolic rate does not always decrease with age, but mainly depends on lifestyle . Slowing down of chemical reactions leads to a lack of nutrition for body tissues, various dysfunctions appear. Consult your doctor to find the optimal therapy and nutritional system if you need to normalize your metabolism. There are several simple and affordable methods that you can use additionally.

1. Lie on the couch

Usually, lying on the couch is associated only with immobility and excess weight, but at the same time, these are moments of comfort and relaxation. Stress stimulates the production of the hormone cortisol. Increased cortisol causes metabolic disorders in the long term  . Therefore, if you are not one of those who can find peace of mind through a walk or dance, take time to just come to your senses. If necessary – on the couch with your favorite TV series.

2. Skip the evening glass of wine

All the same, stress can lead to the habit of relaxing in the evening with a glass of wine. But it is known that even one portion of alcohol can adversely affect metabolism, causing metabolic diseases such as diabetes. If you need a ritual for an evening break, try to build it not around alcohol, but around warm healthy drinks – herbal and berry teas.

3. Choose healthy desserts

Simple carbohydrates — sweets and white flour foods — quickly raise blood sugar levels, trigger fat storage and make the body insensitive to insulin. At the same time, desserts are an important part of a social ritual that you often don’t want to miss. Compromise – fruit desserts, cottage cheese treats with nuts without added sugar, whole wheat biscuits with banana and raisins. Yes, fruits also contain sugar, but together with fiber, it is absorbed and enters the blood more slowly.

4. Dance

Even a little activity during the day – dancing in line, beating rhythm with your feet while working at a desk, walking around the bus stop while waiting for the bus – burns calories and forces you to get rid of excess supplies. An hour of such activity per day without changing other factors can allow you to lose up to one kilogram per month.

5. Drink coffee

Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, and with it the metabolism, which can accelerate by 5-8% (100-150 kcal per day). Plus, having a cup of coffee before your workout can help you feel energized and exercise more effectively. It is important to discuss this issue with your gastroenterologist – for some gastrointestinal problems, the use of this drink is undesirable.

6. Compensate for disadvantages of a sedentary lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle causes a range of health problems and slows down the metabolism. To feel better and increase your daily activity, make it a habit to do a 10-minute warm-up every hour. Alternatively, you can install a table that allows you to work while standing.

7. Eat more vegetables

The fiber in vegetables requires additional energy (calories) from the body for digestion and absorption. In addition, vegetables in most cases are low in calories and high in vitamins, which are also beneficial for weight loss.

Photo: Anna Pelzer / Unsplash

8. Don’t worry about snacking.

The metabolic rate decreases with long, rather than short periods of time without food.

Maria Volchenkova:

“Intermittent fasting increases the production of several hormones involved in fat burning and weight gain. The first is insulin. Insulin that is too high gives the body a signal to store fat and is associated with an increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Hyperinsulinemia is an early indicator of metabolic dysfunction. Short cycles of hunger can lower the insulin resistance index. One interesting study by the University of Alabama of a small group of obese and pre-diabetic men found that after five weeks of intermittent fasting with meals over an eight-hour period, there was a significant decrease in insulin and an improvement in insulin sensitivity. In addition, the participants experienced decreased blood pressure and appetite. But what really slows down the metabolism is diets based on extreme calorie restriction, coupled with inadequate physical activity.

It is enough to pay attention to the participants of the famous American show The biggest loser, in which the participants tried to lose weight in every way. Doctors found that six years after the show, most of the heroes regained all the weight they had lost with such difficulty, but their metabolic level did not increase and remained on average 500 calories lower than it should be with their body weight  ” …

9. Exercise at least five minutes a day

An intense cardio workout burns calories primarily through high oxygen consumption. Plus, it boosts metabolic activity by 24 hours, even if it’s about five minutes a day. Take this time for yourself – and in a couple of weeks, you will feel more fit.

10. Try to walk more

Walking is an exercise that is easy for most of us to do every day. It helps to warm up, relieve stress, speed up metabolism and stimulate the body to burn more calories. Half an hour a day is a serious investment in your health.

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