Metabolism: How it Works & How to Optimize it

By Alyssa Kessel, RDN, LD, Expert Dietitian

Let’s talk about Metabolism- this word gets tossed around a lot when talking about weight loss, food, and fitness. If you’re like many of my patients you’re probably curious about how yours works and what you can do to maximize its potential. 

What Exactly is Your Metabolism?

I’m sure you’ve all heard of those people with naturally fast or slow metabolisms, and therefore struggle to either gain or lose weight. Wherever you might fall within that spectrum, metabolism is something that affects us all.

Metabolism is described as a biochemical process. It’s the way our cells change the food we eat into the energy we need to breathe, circulate blood, operate our organs, think, move, and keep our bodies alive. 

The word metabolism is often referred to as your metabolic rate – the rate at which the body expends energy or burns calories. 

The speed of your metabolism depends on a variety of factors including: 

  • Body composition:  Lean muscle mass burns more calories than fat, even at rest
  • Body Size: Bigger bodies burn more calories
  • Gender: Men typically have less body fat and more muscle compared to women, which means they burn more calories.
  • Age: As you get older, the amount of muscle you have tends to decrease and fat accounts for more of your weight, slowing down the rate at which you burn calories.
  • Hormones: If the thyroid hormone is not produced properly, your metabolism may increase or decrease based on where your levels sit. It’s important to get your levels checked to see if they are imbalanced.
  • Activity Level: When you are more active during the day, either through exercise or routine daily movements like walking or standing, your body burns more calories.

How to Boost Your Metabolism

As seen above, there are some things you just can’t change about your metabolism like your age, gender, or genetics. But there are some things that you can change to help boost your metabolism.

These include: 

Eating the right number of calories. 

We know that eating too many calories can cause weight gain, but it’s also important that we eat enough calories. When we drastically reduce our calories for an extended period of time, our bodies adapt to needing that small number of calories, which decreases our metabolism. This is called metabolic adaptation.

Get plenty of protein at meals. 

Part of what accounts for your metabolic rate is the thermic effect of food, or how much energy your body expends digesting the food you eat. Protein burns more calories. About 30% of the calories from protein will go towards digestion, whereas that number is only about 10% for carbs and even less for fats. Protein also helps you to build and maintain muscle mass. 

Increase your exercise. 

Studies have shown that high-intensity interval training (HITT) can help you burn more fat, boosting your metabolism. Interval training burns more calories in half the time than steady-state cardio. In addition, your calorie burn may continue for up to 24 hours after exercise. 

Start strength training. 

Adding in strength training can help you build lean muscle mass, which can help increase your metabolism.  Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, which means you will burn more calories each day, even at rest. Strength training is important because it helps prevent muscle loss associated with aging. Experts recommend strength training exercises at least twice a week. 

Get enough sleep. 

Sleep deprivation or having an erratic sleep schedule can contribute to a sluggish metabolism. When you’re exhausted, your body lacks the energy to do its normal day-to-day functions, which includes burning calories. Moreover, a lack of sleep has been linked to increased blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. This can leave you vulnerable to health issues like diabetes and weight gain. 

Check out one of our previous blogs on how to get better sleep!

Drink water. 

Boosting your metabolism by drinking water might seem too easy, but it really does work. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed participant’s metabolism increased by 30% in just 10 minutes after consuming roughly 16 ounces of water. 

Learn more about the study here:

Get your hormone levels checked.

Did you know your thyroid runs your metabolism in every cell of your body? It’s important to make sure your hormones are functioning at optimal levels. The result of hormone balance has helped so many of my patients finally take control of their weight.

We actually offer Hormone Replacement Therapy here at Your Wellness Center! Click here to learn more about our program and how it can drastically help not only your metabolism, but also your weight loss goals.

The rest is up to you…

Although your metabolism influences your body’s basic energy needs, how much you eat and drink, along with how much you exercise, are what ultimately determine your weight. There’s no better day than today to take control of metabolism. 

Need help? Give us a call at (513)-791-9474 or fill out our consultation packet to get started with our Weight Loss Program. We’d love to sit down with you to discuss your goals and help get your health back on track.

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