Low Carb Living Made Tasty

News Archives

Metabolism - Get your motor running!

In the weight loss industry we often hear clients say "I put on weight so easily - I must have a slow metabolism". Sound familiar? If so don't despair. The following discussion gives a description of metabolism, and seven simple ways to boost your own metabolism to help those kilos drift away!

What is metabolism?

Metabolism is a two-phase process, both of which are happening inside our bodies all the time.

Phase one is known as anabolism, and involves all of the chemical reactions that the food we eat undergoes when building the body's tissues (muscles, organs etc), blood and hormones.

Phase two is known as catabolism, and involves the process by which the body turns food into energy, body heat, or body fat.

The metabolism is the body's natural way of regulating the amount of energy that is used immediately, and the amount of energy stored for later use (body fat). In ancient times this was extremely important. When food was plentiful the body would store as much energy as possible in the form of body fat to help get through the times of famine that were coming. (See discussion on genetics). As such, our bodies have evolved to be very good regulators of how much fat we store, and how much is burned up as energy.

Can I boost my metabolism?

The great news is that there are a number of simple things that everyone can do to boost their metabolism.

One - Always eat breakfast.

If you skip breakfast, your body is tricked into thinking that a famine is starting, and there may not be any food available for a long time (Remember - by breakfast time you probably haven't eaten for around 12 hours). To help you survive, your body slows your metabolism to ensure that what fat stores you do have last as long as possible. This is often called "survival mode".

By eating a proper breakfast, you are telling your body that there is plenty of food available, and there is no need to store excess fat. Your metabolism is boosted helping to burn excess calories.

For more information see Breakfast and Weight Loss - is it really important?

Two - Snack between meals.

That's right. If you want to boost your metabolism and lose weight, snack between meals! Having said that, you need to be very particular about the types of food you snack on (i.e. try to eat lo-carb, high protein and high fibre snacks), and only eat small amounts.

Snacking achieves two things. Firstly it keeps telling your body that there is plenty of food around, so it keeps your metabolism in top gear. Secondly, because you are less hungry, you will have more control over the type and amount of food you eat for your regular meals (i.e. you are less likely to "binge" at your next meal). Remember, if you do snack between meals, you shouldn't eat a regular serving at your next meal. Because you have already eaten, you won't want as much anyway.

Three - Aerobic exercise.

Do some aerobic type exercise like brisk walking (not just a stroll), jogging, swimming, cycling, etc. Get out there and do anything that will raise your heart rate. Don't limit this to a couple of times a week either. Our ancient ancestors evolved to be moving constantly - be it hunting and gathering or being hunted! Try to get out once a day if possible.

Remember that exercise is cumulative - you don't need to do it all at once. Try to park a little further away at the shops and walk briskly (you'll find parks much easier to get), walk up the stairs at work, get off the tram one stop earlier, walk to the local shops rather than take the car. There are heaps of ways that you can incorporate a little aerobic exercise into your daily routine.

Four - Resistance training.

One of the best ways to raise your metabolism permanently is to increase your lean muscle mass. That's right, the more muscle you have the more calories you burn even when you are just sitting around. This is because muscle is a metabolically active tissue meaning it burns a certain number of calories each day just to maintain itself.

The problem is that many "fad diets" cause your body to lose muscle mass. When you finally go off the diet, you have lost so much muscle that your metabolism has dropped and your body burns fewer calories. Any excess calories that are not used are now turned into body fat. Now you have less muscle AND a slower metabolism than before, so you just keep packing on the kilos! This is one of the reasons that many low fat diets lead to weight gain soon after you stop the diet.

If you don't like the thought of being muscle bound and rippling, don't worry. If you are female, it takes years of solid training with heavy weights to get those bulging biceps. Resistance/weight training a couple of times a week will give you a trim, athletic looking physique that everyone will admire.

Remember that protein is the building block for lean muscles, which leads us to the next point.

Five - Eat plenty of protein.

A recent study by Donald Layman, a professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois found that dieters eating more protein not only lost more body fat than high carb dieters, but also kept their metabolism running at full speed.

To keep your metabolism at top speed throughout the day, try to make sure you get plenty of protein with each meal, AND with your snacks if possible.

Six - Avoid alcohol.

One of the fastest ways to depress your metabolism is to drink alcohol. Even worse, it stimulates your appetite, usually when the only food you can get is high in fats, carbohydrates and sugars. If you can't avoid alcohol altogether, try to drink in moderation and only a couple of times a week.

Seven - Drink plenty of water.

Everyone should drink 8 to 10 glasses of water daily. Water is used in the body to help flush out toxins that have built up. This is especially true when losing weight, because toxins stored in the fat cells that are released when the body burns its fat reserves need to be flushed from the system.

By following the above steps you will improve the speed with which your body burns calories. When a boosted metabolism is combined with a lo-carbohydrate diet you will watch those excess kilos quickly disappear.