So many times when it comes to maintaining or losing weight we hear “It’s all about the metabolism” or “Eat this to rev up your metabolism”, but do we actually know what the metabolism is? When I asked around most people couldn’t really define it, in fact many responded with “You know, I don’t know actually”. So today we’re going to explore what metabolism really means, the impact that it can have on your health and what you can do to maximize its effectiveness.
For starters, the metabolism involves chemical reactions in the body that occur in order to maintain its living cells. Its two categories are catabolism, which is the breakdown of molecules to get more energy, and anabolism, which is the synthesis and building of compounds needed by cells in order to function. Nutrition has enormous impact on these processes and the efficiency of the metabolism as it aids in the building, maintenance and repairing of bodily tissues and overall bodily functions. The metabolism can vary from person to person, which is why some people are able to lose fat fairly quickly with minimal effort while others have to try much harder and still won’t lose it as fast or as much. Apart from nutrition, the thyroid is a big component of the metabolism and its functionality. The thyroid responsible for the release of certain hormones into the blood stream which in turn impacts the how quickly cells can convert nutrients into much needed energy. As intense as this may sound, it really is amazing to think about all the processes that the body goes through without us even realizing it.
There are unfortunately some disorders associated with both the metabolism and thyroid that a person can develop overtime. Hypothyroidism involves an underactive thyroid gland, where it does not produce enough hormones leading to fatigue, loss of appetite, hair loss, mood swings, etc. Hyperthyroid is the opposite where the thyroid gland is overactive and produces too much hormones leading to symptoms of nervousness, irritability, weight loss, excess thirst, excess perspiration and heat intolerance, among others. Another disorder is Metabolic Syndrome which affects the body’s ability to store and use energy. This consists of a group of symptoms including elevated blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, excess visceral fat and high cholesterol which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Bear in mind that I’m not trying to freak you out here I’m just giving you the facts and warning signs. Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider for more information and to discuss any possible symptoms that you may be experiencing. A simple blood test is usually all that’s needed to diagnose and treatment typically involves medication and lifestyle changes (i.e. diet, exercise and rest), but for the most part as long as you are moving and eating a balanced diet, you probably won’t have to worry about this.
There are some strategies that you can incorporate into your daily life in order to improve your metabolism and ultimately turn your body into a lean machine. In terms of exercise, if you haven’t already, start incorporating interval training into your cardio regiment about 30 minutes 2-3 times per weeks as it allows your body to consume more oxygen, pushing it to burn more energy (i.e. calories). Be sure to also incorporate some weight training into your routine each week; as I have mentioned before the more muscle you have the more calories your body burns at rest. In terms of nutrition, consider increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon or in ground flaxseeds, walnuts and chia seeds. Omega-3s help balance the blood sugar, reduce inflammation and therefore help to regulate the metabolism. Another option is to drink green tea as the ingredient catechin has been shown to improve fat oxidation and thermogenesis; meaning that just one cup of green tea per day has the potential to help you burn 90 more calories than without. Many studies have shown that people who consume green tea daily lose more weight on average than those who do not. Eating breakfast within an hour of waking is also very important and everyone should do this each day and not just for the metabolism, but for overall health too. After fasting for at least 8 hours while asleep, the body needs sustenance to “get your engines started” and to wake up your entire body and its functions. It’s also important to eat every few hours throughout the day in order to maintain a steady blood sugar and keep your energy levels up all day; aim for a meal or snack every 2-3 hours. There has also been talk in recent years about how going organic can improve metabolism because consuming pesticides can reduce the efficiency of the metabolism. Studies are ongoing though so don’t start chucking all of your non-organic fruit just yet. Organic food can be more expensive so just do the best you when you can, and always look out for a good sale at the grocery store.
So there you have it, Metabolism 101 if you will. It’s not too complicated to understand, but it is such an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. As I mentioned visit your healthcare provider regularly as they can keep you on track health-wise and can be a great resource for any concerns that you may have. Start including some of the above mentioned strategies into your daily life if you don’t already and before you know it you’ll be feeling and looking better than ever!
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